Episode 17 - We're All Stars Now At The Boat Show

Tampa's a Hotspot for Boat Shows. Get the scoop on which one's best for you!


Show Notes

There’s water to be found everywhere in Tampa Bay, and water means BOATS.  In this episode, we cover the three major boat shows in the Tampa Bay area and tell you which one to go to if you’re looking for sailboats and which one caters more to the fishing boater in you.

We also read some listener email who talks about the greatest Meatloaf they’ve ever had and finish up with the HMS dolphin who found the deal of a lifetime in the south pacific.

Transcript at the bottom of this page!

Boat Shows

Tampa Bay Boat Show

Florida State Fairgrounds, twice a year.

Free Entry. Mostly small fishing boats and pontoons.


Tampa Boat Show

Tampa Convention Center

12$ Entry, Huge selection of power boats and small selection of sailboats on water.


St Pete Power and Sailboat Show

Albert Whitted Park, in front of Mahaffey Theater

Around 20$ Entry. Huge selection of power and sailboats, large and small. Easily the best onboard access of any boat show.

Tampa Boat Show

12$ Entry, Huge selection of power boats and small selection of sailboats on water.

St Pete Power and Sailboat Show

Around 20$ Entry. Huge selection of power and sailboats, large and small. Easily the best onboard access of any boat show.

Tampa Bay Boat Show

Free Entry. Mostly small fishing boats and pontoons.

HMS Dolphin

Friendly relations were established between the British sailors of the HMS Dolphin and the South Pacific locals. The relationships became particularly friendly when the sailors discovered that the women were eager to exchange sex for iron. This trade became so extensive that the loss of nails started to threaten Dolphin’s physical integrity.


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Great Things Tampa Bay is hosted and produced by Kyle Sasser.

There was no paid advertising in this episode.  All recommendations are given based on personal experiences.


Welcome to “Great Things Tampa Bay,” the podcast about great eats, great places, and great people in the greater Tampa Bay area. I’m your host, Kyle Sasser, a Tampa Bay native and realtor. This is episode 17, “We’re All Stars Now at the Boat Show.” This is the “Great Places” feed of the “Great Things Tampa Bay” podcast, where you will only hear episodes related to parks, stores, events, shows, and things to do about town. In our main podcast, which you’ll find under “Great Things Tampa Bay,” in addition to these chats about entertainment and events, we also cover great eateries and delicious grub, as well as interview some of the great people, movers and shakers in the area. You can find our main feed at greatthingstb.com. That’s greatthingstb.com, or you can subscribe to us on iTunes or Google Play just by doing a search for “Great Things Tampa Bay.” Thank you and enjoy.

So, Tampa Bay, you know, we got water all over the place. We got Tampa Bay Proper, Old Tampa Bay, Hillsborough Bay, Intracoastal Waterway, Gulf of Mexico’s out there. We got the Straits, all that good stuff. So yeah, lots of boats running around, and with that comes a lot of boat stores, and also, boat shows. We’re gonna be covering three boat shows, and these are the primary boat shows in the area. There’s two over in Tampa, and then, there’s one over here in St. Petersburg. They typically happen in the colder parts of the year. Most people do not want to be walking around outdoors when it is blazing hot. So, usually around late August, September, October, November, those are the times where the boat shows are gonna be up and going on.

The largest of the state’s is gonna be down, you know, the Miami/Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, I think maybe the largest in the world. Don’t quote me on that, but it is huge. The boat shows that we have up here are actually very respectable, lots of choices, and each one kinda has a little bit of a different focus. First up, we got Tampa Bay Boat Show, and some of these might have already passed. You know, you can just make a note to remember this for next year, but I have been to each one of these, so I’m happy to give my personal experience with each of these.

So, first up, we got the Tampa Bay Boat Show. Typically, this one is at the end of September. Takes place over at the Florida State Fairgrounds, which is…that’s over there where 301 crosses Interstate 4. That’s where all your concerts and a lot of Hillsborough County High School graduations happen. The nice thing about the Tampa Bay Boat Show at the Florida State Fairgrounds is that pretty much the only cost is parking, which when we went this year, 2017, it was about five bucks. So, the Tampa Bay Boat Show does not have any sailboats, so if you are in the market, or just want to look at sailboats, this is not the one to go to, and even the powerboats, they will be on the smaller end. I think there was maybe one or two that was over the 40-foot mark, and they were on the woodblocks, and all that. Mainly, this is small pleasure crafts, 15 to 30-foot range, lots of fishing boats, pretty good selection of pontoon boats and things like that. So, yeah, so if you’re in the market for something like 15, 30 feet, it’s around late September. Give the Tampa Bay Boat Show a try.

Next up, we have the St. Pete Power and Sailboat Show. This one is my particular favorite. You know, I like sailboats, mostly. This is the show to go for if you are in the market for a sailboat. This one takes place down in front of the Mahaffey Theater and the Dali Museum. They actually build some temporary floating docks over there, kinda up next to the airport. They also have some displays up on land, you know, like, the smaller 10 feet, maybe, like, 20-foot powerboats up on land, but the stars of the show is definitely on the water. And you will see everything from 30-foot Beneteaus up to, you know, like, the 96-power yachts with separate crew quarters, its own little, you know, engine room. So, crazy, crazy stuff. Problem with some of these boat shows as you go, and, like, the really big cool stuff you don’t really see all that much, a lot of times, they’ll want you to set appointments, and blah-blah-blah, and pre-verify your income and all that good stuff. But the good thing about the St. Pete Power and Sailboat Show is the boats are a lot more open, and yeah, you can go tour some really cool stuff.

I think last time we went our favorite was the Beneteau 42. In addition to, you know, just being a brand-new sailboat, which is always awesome, the entire back transom kinda dropped down and made its own swim platform, which is sweet. And I know, you know, some of the old salty sailors don’t really like the Beneteaus and the Jeanneaus all that much. I don’t know, they’re missing that magic wooden something that people go gaga over, but I gotta say, it was pretty awesome. And the other cool thing about the Beneteau was that whenever you went down below decks, like, they didn’t really have the walls dividing up the space. It was just open. It made it feel huge, which was amazing. So, it’s good to see a ton of boats like that because you can really rapidly figure out what you like and what you don’t like. You do have to pay to go to the St. Pete Power and Sailboat Show. It’s usually about $20 each, and you know, there’s parking and stuff like that. It can get slightly crowded. Yeah, it’s not too bad. And, you know, you’re out there walking around on floating docks in the water, so, you know, if you get some motion sickness, sailboat might not be the best thing for you, but just be sure to take your Dramamine or associated motion sickness pills before going out there.

And last up we have the Tampa Boat Show, not to be confused with the Tampa Bay Boat Show. And just as a personal side, it does irritate me when there’s multiple things in the area, and one is the Tampa Bay whatever, and the other one is the Tampa whatever. And then, they get mad when you get them confused. And it’s just like, well, you know, there’s like three letters difference between the two of you. Maybe you should tighten the branding up a little bit.

So, the Tampa Boat Show takes place usually early October. I think this year it was October 13th through 15th. It was delayed a little bit due to Hurricane Irma, but it takes place at the Tampa Convention Center. You do have to pay to get in. Usually, it’s $12 to $15, somewhere in that neighborhood. They have a pretty good mix of both power and sailboats. So, in the convention hall proper, that’s where you’re gonna find the majority of your powerboats. And honestly, the selection is gonna be larger here than at the state fairgrounds boat show, so yeah, if you’re in the market for a powerboat, they definitely have the selection. They also have a marina section outside, kinda down across from Harbour Island where they have some docks set up. You can go out there and tour. Access isn’t quite as easy as the St. Pete Power and Sailboat Show. It’s also usually a little bit more crowded. Can be tight quarters if you’re trying to access boats out there. They don’t have as large of an on-water section, but they do have a really good selection of large power vessels, and some sailboats.

So, just to recap, you got the Tampa B-A-Y Boat show, which is at the Florida State Fairgrounds, typically at the end of September. You have the Tampa Boat Show, which is at the Tampa Convention Center, and that’s usually late September, early October. And then, the St. Pete Power and Sailboat Show, which is my personal favorite, and that is usually, like, November, December, somewhere around that time.

All of this information is in the show notes, so you can either click on the information button on the podcast app that you’re using, or you can just go to our website, and we’ll have it there. And, as always, if you have any questions, please just send me an email.

We did actually get some listener mail in. This email comes from Wendy, who states that her nine-year-old son claims that the best meatloaf in the world is at Ella’s Folk Art Café over in Tampa. And, for those of you that are not in the know, Ella’s Folk Art Café is on Nebraska Avenue, just south of Hillsborough, and that’s over in Tampa, basically across the street from Green Shift Comics. A little bit of a heads up on Sundays they usually change the menu up. Sundays is usually more of, like, a Southern barbeque sort of thing, and then during the rest of the week, they do, you know, the regular menu. Also, a good place to catch a live band if you’re into, you know, Rockabilly and people playing slap bass, in addition to other genres. But, yeah, it’s a good place to catch a relaxed show while having some delicious food.

Wendy also recommends the Smokehouse in Dunedin, which you longtime listeners know that barbeque is very near and dear to my heart. In the first episode of “Great Things Tampa Bay,” I led off with my favorite restaurant in the area, Urban Brew and BBQ. So, I have eaten at Smokehouse in Dunedin, and yes, they do have very delicious barbeque and sides, so definitely recommend if you’re up in Dunedin. So, thank you for that email, Wendy, and tell your nine-year-old son that he is a culinary genius, but thank you for the email, and please keep them coming.

So, the HMS Dolphin was a 24-gun frigate of the Royal Navy, and yep, she had many adventures. Main claim to fame was that she was the first ship to circumnavigate the world twice. As you can imagine, lots of interesting things happening on this voyage, and quite a few ports to call, one of the more notable ones being Tahiti. But probably the funniest instance that happened on this voyage was just how friendly the crew got with the natives, especially when they learned that the natives were eager to exchange sex for iron. As you can imagine, trade was brisk, eventually to the point to where it was actually threatening the integrity of the ship because the crew had pried so many iron nails out of the wood planks to ensure this goodwill with the locals. Luckily, the captain, you know, had the foresight to put end to all of that. Luckily, they made it back safely. Hats off, I suppose, HMS Dolphin.

So, I want to thank you for sharing “Great Things Tampa Bay” with your friends and family. You can share us by going to our website greatthingstb.com. There you’ll find “share it” buttons on nearly every page. You can share us on Twitter, Facebook, all that good stuff. If you are looking for your own great place in Tampa Bay, I’m also a licensed realtor, specializing in deep knowledge of Hillsborough and Pinellas County. So, if you wanna talk real estate, you can give me a call at 727-300-2111, or you can send me an email at kyle@sassergroup.com. That’s kyle@sassergroup.com, and I’ll be more than happy to help you find your next home here in Tampa Bay.

I also need your feedback. I need you to tell me where we should be going, and what we should be eating, and who we should be talking to. So, please go to our website, greatthingstb.com, and you can hit either the “Contact Us” link at the top or the “Get Social” links, also at the top. If you wanna be a cool guy, or a cool girl, you can call our voicemail number, which is 727-440-4455, and leave us a message. I’d love to hear from yah. So, thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.

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