Boat Show Deals

Looking for good value during boat show season.

Miami Boat Show Floor

Brian Daugherty

I was walking the convention center floor at the Miami Boat Show, and every time I passed the Bayliner Element display I noticed a crowd of people looking at it. I don't have any official sales numbers--the show officially ends today--but it was interesting to see the Element, at least by anecdotal evidence, do what Bayliner desinged it to do: Bring people into boating. Boat Shows can be great places for new boaters to get a feel of everything that's out there all at once, but they can also subject neophytes to new boat sticker shock. A boat like the Element lets first time boaters get in on the fun with a cool-looking fiberglass boat without paying big bucks to do it. I'd call that a boat show deal.

Check out these good boat show values:

ELECTRONICS:DRAGONFLY Sonar/Plotter MFD from Raymarine, which I summarized in a previous post, gets you CHIRP technology for $650.

SAFETY:**** MCMURDO Fast Find 220 Personal Locator Beacon is listed at around $300 but retailers sell it for between $250 and $290. It offers a small, relatively inexpensive way to call for help should you need it. Unlike some competitors, it doesn't require a subscription service so there are no additional fees. When activated the unit will send your pre-established ID (you have to register) and GPS coordinates into the emergency satellite system, hastening your rescue. It's also waterproof to 10 meters.

FISHING: PENN BATTLE COMBO This rod-reel combo won an award at the 2012 ICAST show and features a high-value Penn Battle reel (shown in the video) balanced with a 6'6" to 7' rod, ranging from light to medium to heavy, depending. The combo units start at $119, a terrific deal for a saltwater rod and reel package.

Got any more great boat show deals? Let us know.