Boat Show Blows into Miami

Hanse, solo
Miamarina at Bayside was relatively quiet Wednesday night, as a small squad of handlers put the final coats of wax on the sailboats in preparation for this weekend's Miami International Boat Show, which is expected to draw more than 200,000 visitors this weekend. On the way out to the docks at sunset, a yellow-shirted security guard could be seen dozing in her chair.

At 86 feet, the tallest mast at the downtown marina (site of Strictly Sail Miami, the "all-sail" show) belonged to a gorgeous, teaked-out, 54-footer. The Hanse 540e was being tended to by my brother and one of the partners in his St. Petersburg-based boat detailing business, Sunfish Marine. The vessel gleamed in the twilight, newly painted with a coat of Stars & Stripes Blue. You could smell the freshly applied teak oil wafting off its deck long before you caught sight of the boat.

Hanse is headquartered in Greifswald, Germany, a port town where (according to company literature) "boats have been built since 1361." But the company's push into American waters is new; like the rest of East Germany, the company and its hometown only recently shook off the chains of communist rule.

The 540e on display at Miamarina is Model No. 1, and goes for a mere $600,000 — a steal in boat show circles. (At last year's show, a sailboat sold for $2.7 million.) This puppy has an epoxy hull, whatever that means, and a self-tacking jib (ditto). I'm no boat expert, but it looked and smelled good to me, especially the cherry wood-infused interior.

After my brother and his partner had showered in the public restroom of the marina facilities building, we ate a late dinner among the throng at Bayside. Lombardi's Ristorante reminded me of the first line in Annie Hall: "There's an old joke ... two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of them says, 'Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.' The other one says, 'Yeah, I know; and such small portions.'" (Woody Allen meant the joke as a metaphor for life, but in this case it was a metaphor for, well, dinner.) Lombardi's service crawled, the food finally arrived overcooked, and when it was brought back a second time it was bland.

But of course, the fifteen percent gratuity was automatically added to the check. Welcome, tourists! --Frank Houston

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