JobbieCrew Tours the 58th Annual DETROIT BOAT SHOW at Cobo Center! See the entire photo gallery down below!
One of the best and biggest boat shows in the USA, the annual Detroit Boat Show, is produced by the Michigan Boating Industries Association and has been going strong since 1958!
The boating culture in Michigan is phenomenal. And here in the center of Detroit with their excellent 9-day long annual event, the MBIA have done it again. What a great event!
Over 700 shiny beautiful boats, including dozens of new models, are showcased for some 70,000+ attendees over a 9-day period every February at Cobo. The Jobbie Crew Captain and I are walking through rows of hundreds of boats and it’s wild.
From the Swampmaster gator wrestling to water toys. Pontoons, Cruisers, Ski Boats, Fishing and rubber boats with every type and size of motor you could imagine. If you need something for your boat and can’t find it here then it’s not available!
The State of Michigan has an $8 billion dollar per year boating industry. We are one of the top boating states in country, with an especially dense concentration of boaters in the St. Clair Shores area of Lake St. Clair. Even Kid Rock is an avid local boater with his wood Grand Craft (made in Holland, Michigan) with the word ‘Cowboy’ in gold lettering on the stern.
58th Annual Detroit Boat Show (February 13th-21st, 2016)
Wilson Marine, Skipper Bud’s, Colony Marine, Grand Pointe Marina, Wonderland Marine, Krupa’s Boat Mart, etc, there are a ton of great boat dealers with some fantastic boats on display here at Cobo.
So who is at the show?
Wilson Marine (multiple locations www.wilsonboats.com) by far has the biggest exhibitor space. Every time they sell a boat, they ring a bell. And that bell rang several times while we were there!
We spoke with Stephen Elliott, Sales Manager at their Harrison Township location:
“We’ll sell about 300 boats at the boat show this week. Our two most popular right now are the 21-foot long Bennington pontoon ($32,0000) and the Sea Fox Commander Center Console, 18-28ft, $32-50K. Wilson Marine is headquartered in Brighton but we have stores in Harrison Township, Commerce Township and Howell as well. Our Howell store for example is on 37-acres with boats stacked 4-rows high.”
Skipper Bud’s (ton of state-wide and national locations)
2015 Cruisers 328 CX, 32-feet long with an open bow, joystick control, 350hp engine ($245,000).
Orion Marine (Lake Orion) Bill Nickolopolous
Cool orange 25-foot long Manitou X-plode XT pontoon ($100,000) 300hp Orion Marine motor, custom fiber glass exterior, custom “Lamborghini Pearl Orange” paint job, stainless steel, gray teak vinyl flooring.
Colony Marine (St. Clair Shores, Michigan)
2015 Chris Craft 21 Capri ($103,000)
47-foot long Sea Ray 470 Sundancer
Some fun random things we saw:
– Doggy life vests
– Yellow Dragon paddle wheeler boat from Owosso, Michigan www.paddlewheeler.com
– Wolf’s Marine (Benton Harbor, Michigan) Aqua Marine raft, 10ft long, 4-person dinghy www.wolfsmarine.com
– Mercury 400R Racing Motor (expensive) New Mystic Maiden motor? maybe one day
– Dockbright = remote controlled polyurethane lighting for docks www.dockbright.net
– Mobile Toys = Soundcast OutCast = 360-degree wireless Bluetooth outdoor speaker, waterproof, works up to 300ft away; about 2.5ft tall; $1,000 www.mobiletoysmi.com
– Evinrude had 40-50 powerful and expensive engines on display
– Ton of great Lund fishing boats, some go 75mph with 250-300hp engines
Pier 53 Marine (Cataba Island, Ohio) Bryan Collins
2016 344 Center Console $298,000
Triple engines, Optimus 360 joystick control, cabin inside the center console.
Dockside Marine Sales (Waterford, Michigan) Dan Cline
25ft Signature tri-toon loaded with amenities
Plus intrior, LED package, blue tooth, gps, fish finder, vinyl floor, etc
Viscosity Sports (Harrison Township, Michigan) Brad Bertels
$100 (6ft long personal) to $1,000 (30ft long)
Flyboard ($6,000), hoverboards
Dryboat Company (Grand Rapids, Michigan) Jon Bartnick
They dry inner cores of boats, usually 30-footers and up and fill with epoxy. Takes 3-5 weeks.
Motor City Power Sports (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan)
2016 Polaris Slingshot car
Paradise Pad (Des Moines, Iowa) Mike Hayden
Father and Son team from Des Moines selling Kevlar infused, heat-welded, tear-resistant 18-foot long float pads. Skipper Bud’s is a dealer.
Grand Pointe Marina (Dimondale, Michigan)
Grand Pointe has several outstanding $300,000-1,000,000 boats for sale.
We capped off the boat show with a fun rarity in Detroit:
The Swampmaster: Wresting a Florida Alligator Live!
Bleacher seating overlooks a shallow pool of water inside a wire-fence enclosed area. Inside of the pool is an 8-foot long 200-pound alligator. Standing on deck above the pool is wild alligator handler, Jeff The Swampmaster, in his camouflage kneepads and holding a long stick. Little girl sitting behind us says, “He’s gonna die.”
Jeff has been doing these traveling shows since 1994. He said “The Seminole Indians of Florida would wrestle alligators for sport. Nowadays there are about 1.5 million wild alligators in Florida. I purchase my gators from alligator farms legally, then retire them to a private no-kill pond after a few shows. I usually go thru 20-25 gators per year.”
After this, Jeff jumps into the water with the alligator, walks around, gently prodding him for theatrical effect before leaping onto the gators back, grabbing his jaws and hoisting his head up for the audience to see the gators 80 teeth. “Alligators have 1500lbs per square inch bite-strength pressure, so I gotta watch my hands here.”
Luckily, Jeff ends the show with both hands and The Captain and I exit the Detroit Boat Show, overwhelmed by the dazzling variety of boats and extremely thankful that we went!
You should check it out while there’s still time!
Detroit Boat Show homepage
Michigan Boating Industries Association
The first few years, the boat show was held at the Michigan Light Guard Armory (4400 East 8 Mile Road, Detroit) before moving to its current 350,000sq ft space on the 2nd floor of Cobo Center (1 Washington Blvd, Detroit).
And Cobo is a great place to have this event.
At 2.4mil sq feet, Cobo Center is huge. Opened in 1960 on the very site where Frenchie Cadillac landed on the banks of the Detroit River in 1701, Cobo Center has hosted a massively diverse slate of events over the years.
Some fun quick recaps:
– 1961-1978-the Detroit Pistons played here
– 1963-Dr. MLK gave his first I Have a Dream speech here
– 1968-The Doors with Crazy World of Arthur Brown concert
– 1969-Jimi Hendrix concert
– 1975-KISS record their ‘Alive’ album live
– 1976-Detroit street gang The Erroll Flynns (of which Judge Greg Mathis belonged) riot during an Average White Band & Kool and the Gang concert
– 1994-Nancy “Why Me” Kerrigan gets her knee clubbed in the Tony Harding conspiracy
However, out of all the events Cobo hosts, the annual Detroit Boat Show is one of the most enjoyable events held here every year.