The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show almost always falls on my birthday, which kind of sucks since I have to be away from the wife and kids on what they consider to be my “special day.” The upside of the situation is that I get to have a pretty good time with a lot of friends I don’t get to see very often. As an added bonus, this year my birthday fell on the same day that we celebrated Marlin‘s 30th birthday with a party at the show.
A ton of Marlin‘s advertisers, supporters and just plain fans of the magazine showed up for the great time, all put together by Marlin‘s publisher, Natasha Lloyd, and our marketing team, headed by David Carr. Natasha even worked the bar all night. You couldn’t ask for a better hostess — or pour, for that matter!
She even arranged to have our own photo booth on site so that folks could pop in and take some candid photos of the night’s action. Some of the pictures were pretty hysterical, and I’m sure we’ll post all of the appropriate ones on marlinmag.com fairly shortly.
We even drew for a fantastic door prize. Anyone who “liked” Marlin‘s Facebook page while at the party got to throw their card into a bucket — Tripper Vincent of Cabo Yachts won himself an iPad! I could have used one of those myself!
After the Marlin party started winding down, a lot of the crowd proceeded over to Shula’s Steakhouse to attend Bobby Carter’s party, hosted by Mississippi Tourism and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic that Carter runs out of the Isle of Capri Casino. Since it was still my birthday, and I’d never made it over to this soiree before, I climbed into a taxi with Jim Turner, owner of Release Boatworks and the Casa Vieja Lodge down in Guatemala. The conversation and libations flowed freely, but for some reason I had enough sense to take it easy. I must be getting older and smarter. Turner or Herb Rosell bought dinner that night — I don’t think they have it figured out yet — and it was terrific. There’s nothing better after a long day at the show than a good steak dinner.
Even though there was plenty of partying going on — there always is — there was plenty of business getting done as well. Nearly every vendor I talked to said they were having a good show and that business was picking up — slowly, but steadily.
I watched John Bayliss wow one customer after another with every button he pushed while showing his fabulous Lights Out. He’d push one button here and a screen would pop down out of the mezzanine overhead; another push there opened the under-gunwale gaff locker. And would you like some cool air on your neck while watching the baits? You can have it without sunglass-fogging misters or air-conditioning vents dripping condensation on your head; on Lights Out, Bayliss plumbs the A/C so it bounces off the top of the mezzanine cushion onto the back of your head! Wow is right.
My show ended at the big Billfish Foundation dinner and auction on Friday night. I got to sit by some of my colleagues over at Sport Fishing and Salt Water Sportsman magazines — John and Poppy Brownlee, Nick Honachefsky, Scott Salyers and Mark Badzinski. The TBF dinner is always a great time for good cause, but it was especially nice to attend with my good friends. And they even let me in without a jacket!