The Boat Show: Notes & photos

I hit “The Boat Show” on Thursday.

So, as I walked around, Capt. Bob Poteshman grabbed me and said, “You have to talk to this guy.”

He was right.

It turned out to be one of the coolest things at the Progressive Chicago Boat, RV and Strictly Sail Show, which runs through Sunday at McCormick Place South Hall.

With the additions of Strictly Sail and the move to the South Hall, “The Boat Show” is much bigger than in recent years and you need to allot more time than usual. It feels like a major show again.

What Poteshman wanted me to see was the plans for the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (booth A218) to place a research buoy on Lake Michigan somewhere north of Chicago. This is like the buoy that has been placed off Michigan City, Ind. for several years.

These are the cool buoys that relay weather (temperature, winds) and water information (temperature, wave height) back and the information is up at the Sea Grant site at


The exact location of the buoy north of Chicago is dependent on discussions with the Coast Guard, the National Weather Service and marinas, said Jay Beugly who manned the booth.

He  said they are also still looking for some way to get the 1,000-pound anchor out on Lake Michigan. The buoy north of Chicago is funded for its first two years. The hope is to have it in place by this summer. Then will come efforts to build funding for the buoy after the initial two years.


* Pontoons follow the trend of recent years and dominate the show. (OK, walking the big yachts remains a high point for many.)

Stan Croff from Fays Marina (booth P1050) of LaPorte, Ind. described the evolution of pontoons well, “It used to be the elderly who went out in the them. Now you can ski or wakeboard behind them. It is the most affordable way to own a piece of the lake.”

Let me add that pontoons are evolving rapidly even from what we thought of them 10 years ago. There are still basic models, but there are now fast mobile pontoons with all sorts of amenities.

Croff said the other hot item for them was the Yahama Jet Boat.

* The Strictly Sail portion basically integrated into the main part of the show, but also by itself. The forced marriage of sailboating and powerboating seems to be going well. There is overlap between the groups.


* I was solo on Thursday, so I did not have to deal with the kids desires. There’s plenty of kids stuff: fishing to “Rockin’, Rollin’, Bubbles. So, I could make my own pace through my favorite section, the wonderful display by the Blackhawk Chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society of America.

*The Westrec Marina-Chicago Park District booth (P1825) has a video of the history of the Chicago harbors over the past 18 years.

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