Southeast US Boat Show

Today, we went to the Southeast US Boat Show, held in Metropolitan park in downtown Jacksonville, FL. We had one task on our agenda – find the sailboats, walk on board, and get a feel for what it’d be like on board for the 3 of us.

The boat show was originally scheduled for April – but was cancelled at the last minute due to complicated circumstances involving payment and the city of Jax. We were very disappointed. Fortunately, the show was saved and we were able to attend today. Parking was $10, tickets were $12/person and free entry for kids under 16.

Once through the gates we had to run the gauntlet of vendors trying to sell their products, get you to sign up for timeshares, and enter raffles for prizes. Following that was a maze of power boats, a food court, and other distractions. Our hopeful eyes were searching along the riverfront until we saw the masts. We were beginning to worry that there wouldn’t be any sail boats! We had called before and confirmed there would be sailboats to view – but that was before the cancellation and rescheduling.

Turns out there were a meager 3 sail boats – 2 monohulls (a 42 foot Beneteau and a 42 foot 2017 Catalina) and 1 catamaran. The Catalina had a tri-cabin layout, and was incredibly spacious compared to the Beneteau of the same size – but this may just be because it is brand new. On both boats, it was reassuring to see how the 3 of us could comfortably move around. I realized the v-berth was much larger than I expected and could comfortably sleep Michael and I. They always seemed smaller in the videos and pictures online. Our son, Alex was super excited to see below deck and seemed ready to immediately move into the aft cabin. On both, the hanging locker space and storage seemed perfectly adequate for our clothing and personal belongings.

We had really hoped to see a Hunter but they were absent from the docks. Despite the lack of sailboats, attending the boat show was a valuable experience because it allowed me to finally walk on a sailboat over 14 feet! Strangely enough, it felt like home. I was already imagining making meals in the galley, eating in the saloon, reading charts at the navigation station, sleeping in the v-berth, reading in the cockpit..

Overall, this confirmed for me that a 42 foot, tri-cabin, monohull would more than suit our needs. The tri-cabin layout is my preference because I’d like to use the 3rd cabin for guests or storage and eventually the next addition to our family. Anything larger would be too much, and I can’t yet comment on a smaller sized model because I don’t have any personal experience.

We met some fellow sailors who were happy to chat with us and share experiences. The broker, Julie Tijerina, whom me met on the Beneteau and also recently became a live-aboard , offered us the advice: don’t wait like we did! 

We get that advice a lot. Life can’t wait.


If you’d like to check out some of Julie’s listings go to