Things to look for during boat shows in Canada

4 minute read Published on Apr 5, 2021 by BrokerLink Communications

Things to look for during boat shows in Canada

Boating season is upon us! Whether you’re new to boating or an avid sailor, We can help prepare you for this season’s boat shows.

What are boat shows?

A boat show offers a time and place for marine manufacturers, ship and boat builders to show off their latest equipment and accessory offerings on the market. Most boat shows occur once a year, and typically last one week. They may have exhibitions on land or on water, or depending on circumstances, they may even be virtual. Boat shows are vital to marine manufacturers and local dealers. They help get the word out as to what offerings there are and what new designs have been released.

Boat show season runs from late fall to early spring, the time when dealers and vendors are anxious to get a jump start on the new season, and are ready to make a deal. Boat manufacturers often offer special boat show incentives, such as lower pricing, package deals, and special financing.

Bigger boat shows often have a number of demonstrations or seminars on topics ranging from boating safety and seamanship to fishing tips from pro anglers. These seminars are often free to attend, and they are a great way to rest your feet and learn something new.

Boat shows can be very overwhelming. Take the time to plan your visit, and determine what you want to get out of the show before you go. Decide on your reason is for attending, and plan accordingly. For example, do you want to purchase a boat, check out the latest gadgets or attend educational seminars? Review what the show is offering and see if they have a schedule so you know what to take in at what time.

Should you buy a boat in a boat show?

There are pros and cons to purchasing a boat at a boat show. Weigh your options and make the choice that’s best for you!


  • The high-traffic nature of boat shows makes for a competitive environment for dealers. Buyers can take advantage of this sense of competition to score a great discount on a boat they’ve been eyeing.
  • There are often special “show-only” deals at exhibitions that are unavailable any other time. Dealers use many resources to be at the boat show and might be more willing to negotiate on price or offer incentives like a better financing plan or warranty to close the sale.
  • At a boat show, you can climb into the vessels to get an in-person experience of being aboard. Bring your family with you and allow them to explore the boats you’re interested in to get their input.
  • You can also get advice about boats you’re interested in from competitors. They’re more likely to point out flaws or drawbacks of the craft and give you a helpful outside perspective on the boat.
  • Often dealers will showcase the base model of a boat. If you find a boat you like, you can inquire about upgrading to high-quality enclosures made from Herculite marine fabric or Strataglass. This fabric replaces lower-grade original-equipment-manufacturer (OEM) materials which have diminished clarity and functionality.


  • The pressure from dealers to make an on the spot purchase to take advantage of show-only discounts or incentives can leave buyers worried about an impulse decision they’ll later regret. If this is something you’re apprehensive about, it’s best to attend boat shows with the goal of having a great time and learning more about boats.
  • You probably won’t be able to take the boat on a sea trial. That means you’ll be making a purchase without having the chance to test drive your new boat. While the salesperson’s description and the boat’s specs paint a detailed picture, they don’t make up for the lack of a sea trial. If you subscribe to the notion that you should never buy a boat without a test drive, you shouldn’t buy a boat at a boat show.
  • There’s a vast number of boats available for purchase at boat shows, but they’re mostly new boats. Before you make a purchase at a boat show, keep in mind that a similar used boat might be available for a better deal. Or you could buy a more upmarket used boat for the same price as a new boat at a boat show, even with the deep discounts.
  • Another drawback to buying a new boat at a boat show is the length of time it can take to have your purchase delivered. If you’re buying a new model or request for upgrades to the base model, it can take as much as a few months to have your boat delivered. That’s a long time to wait to drive your new boat for the first time.

What to do once you have purchased a boat

Whether your boat is docked at a marina, or stored in your own boathouse it’s important to have insurance for your new investment. Don’t forget to buy boat insurance right away. This new investment needs protecting, and it’s a good idea to have boat insurance in place even before you leave the boat show if that’s possible. To learn more about insuring your boat with BrokerLink, visit our Boat Insurance page.

Remember it’s a good idea to keep your boat insured all year. Risks such as fire, theft, and other forms of damage can still occur during the off-season.

FAQs for things to look for during boat shows in Canada

What is boat financing?

Financing for a boat is similar to an RV or car loan. Payments are usually made weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Term length is usually 15 to 20 years, and a down payment is required by many lenders.

What are the two basic types of boat insurance?

Property coverage – helps protect your boat from certain risks. If your boat is damaged or stolen, this type of coverage will cover repairs or replacement.

Liability coverage – helps protect you against lawsuits and claims if you are involved in an accident or cause damage to another individual’s property, similar to car liability insurance.

Do I need to have a boat license to insure a boat?

As a boat owner, you need to carry a pleasure craft operator card if you are operating a boat or a yacht. This allows you to operate a boat legally. It does not matter what size, type, age or how powerful the boat is, you need a boating license. It is required that you provide this number when adding a boat to a policy.