Notes from the Cape: A Trip to the Boatbuilders Show

Text and Photographs by Mike King

A warm breeze and bright sunshine guided me onto Cape Cod this past Saturday, and with them came the promise of spring (much needed after the winter we’ve had). I was thinking warm thoughts too, as I was headed to a boat show, but not an ordinary boat show. I like to think that the other folks who made their way to the 9th Annual Cape Cod Boatbuilders Show felt the same way. This show is special, this show is different, and that’s the whole idea.

For the last 9 years the Cape Cod Marine Trades Association has worked to set the Boatbuilders Show apart from other, more mainstream boat shows. Aside from membership dues, the show is the primary source of funding for the education programs supported by the Association.

The philosophy behind the show was summed up nicely by organizer Scott Dayton: “This is the show where you can meet and speak with the guy who’s going to build your next boat. You begin a relationship that allows you to be a part of making that boat your own, where there is quality beyond what you can see, and people who care.”

After a day of visiting the 51 or so exhibitors at the Resort & Conference Center of Hyannis, I have to say that Dayton was right on track. Aside from the amazing and unique boats on display, I was able to speak with a lot of the builders. The rest were busy selling boats, sails, hardware and software, cordage, clothing and service. There was commerce taking place—a nice change of pace from all the gloom and doom we’ve been hearing about the marine industry in the last few years.

The Cape Cod Marine Trades Association is an organization of 100 or so businesses and people working to grow boating on the Cape and Islands, but the show also attracts builders from Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Boats of all sizes, types and construction were on display at this year’s event, all made by small independent shops and people who are passionate about what they do—and who want to share that passion with others.

Perhaps the only problem with a boat show like this is that it plants the seed of owning a boat that’s beyond one’s means. But we can all dream, right? In the meantime, I still have that 1971 Ranger 33 that’s a work in progress, and the 19-foot 1940 Maine Coastal that came with the house we just bought. And I can rest easy that the maritime trades are alive and well on Cape Cod.

Did you attend the Boatbuilders Show?

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