They’re calling it the “Safety First Boat Show Experience”. And as you walk the miles of aisles at FLIBS 2020, you’ll see endless crews of “sanitizers” spritzing disinfectant, signs on the floor urging people to “Keep A Fathom Apart” – that’s six feet in boaty terms – and emphatic reminders for everyone to Wear A Mask!
Skip the facial covering and you might just get a socially-distant finger-wagging from one of the red-shirted “Safety ambassadors” – or more authoritatively, from black-masked cops strolling the show.
But after eight months of uncertainty, during which time the FLIBS organizers watched as pretty much every other major global boat show got canceled, FLIBS 2020 is well and truly open for business.
OK, there are plenty of empty slips compared to last year – it’s more like 500 boats in the water compared to over a 1,000. There’s no Superyacht Village this year. And many of those vast exhibition tents have empty booths as overseas exhibitors decided not to make the trip.
But make no mistake, for any boat lover worth his deck shoes, FLIBS 2020 is still a terrific show, and still the world’s biggest in-water display, with more than 50 stunning superyachts to gaze at.
One interesting development is that with the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center – one of last year’s show venues – still shuttered for renovation, many of the oh-so-popular center console models are now on display at the main Bahia Mar show site.
They’re even using a number of those vast exhibition tents to show them off. And with the tent sides removed, they provide welcome shade to kick the tires of everything from a 10-foot rubber tender, to a 45-foot quad-outboard fishing machine.
Of course there are still lovely air-conditioned tents displaying the latest in nautical nick-knacks – everything from electronics, pumps, inboards, outboards, water makers, water purifiers, fishing tackle, to coolers and chart-plotters. Everything, in fact, you’d ever need for your boat.
And FLIBS wouldn’t be FLIBS without the fun booths selling cheesy t-shirts, the polarized sunglasses, the scary-sharp knives, the multicolored nylon hammocks and fold-up bikes.
But if you want to see boats, big and small, new or used, this is the place. Stroll socially-distant along the superyacht docks and your jaw is guaranteed to descend at the sheer enormity of such floating palaces as the stunning gray-hulled 133-foot “Serenity”, on sale with Worth Avenue Yachts for a mere $13.5 million.
Or the breathtaking 157-foot “Top Five” superyacht from Vancouver builder Christensen, looking for a buyer with a spare $17.7 million to spend. Moran Yachts will happily show you around.
Want your jaw to really drop? Wander over to the Prestige Yachts dock and take in the funky, angular lines of the remarkable X70, a mini superyacht that’s been likened to having your own private island. It’s making its global debut here at FLIBS. While just 70-feet in length, inside it feels like a 100-footer.
If the heat – both of the show and the midday sun – gets too much, there are always the “cocktail” barges. These FLIBS mainstays are just as much fun as ever, with great music, great margaritas but, this year, with socially-distant tables.
FLIBS runs through Sunday with one-day admission costing $35 for adults, $15 for kids aged six to 15. Just book your tickets online before you go. For all information, go to flibs.com.