National Houseboat Expo in Louisville_ KY

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					                                        Fond Memories of Houseboat Magazine’s
                National Houseboat Expo in Louisville, KY
          After participating as an exhibitor
(and visitor) at our nation’s largest house-
boat show, all I can say is “Wow.” That’s the
word most frequently heard when I toured
with hundreds of smiling sightseers the half
dozen magnificent houseboats that were on
display in the Kentucky Exhibition Center
at Houseboat Magazine’s National House-
boat Expo held in Louisville, KY on the
dates of 18 - 20 March 2011. I was there as
a representative of the United Safe Boating
Institute (USBI), an umbrella organization
of boating educational associations (more
on this later) with a brand new hot-off-the-
press,12-page booklet entitled 10 Tons and
No Brakes, Suggestions for Houseboat
Safety, paid for through a grant adminis-
tered by the U.S. Coast Guard. All in all
there were 61 exhibitors at the Expo, and
thousands of guests who paid $15 per per-            Some of the magnificent showboats at the Louisville Houseboat Expo
son to visit the show. Although Louisville       lishing. Harris publishes a total of 14 mag-      The showboats on display at the Expo were
(pronounced Lou-a-ville), is well known na-      azines and the company also produces the          truly magnificent with sizes and furnishings
tionally for The Kentucky Derby, and the         Houseboat Expo. This is their 12th year for       that were nothing less than deluxe. A ninety-
Louisville Slugger, the official bat for major   this extravaganza. A busy man at the show,        five footer by 20-feet was offered for the
league baseball, the city is also the house-     Brady was kind enough to take time to pro-        show price of $745,500.00, a ninety-footer
boat capital of the nation. Based on my per-     vide some history and information about           by 20-feet for $523,673,000, and smaller
sonal experience, Louisville is also an          houseboats and the industry. According to         houseboats for less. Brady mentioned that
extremely friendly and polite city of            Brady, there are presently 18 houseboat           one of the houseboats on order for Bravada
557,224, over one million if you include the     manufacturers, mostly in Kentucky, fol-           Houseboats was over 100 feet, four stories
entire metropolitan area, and the location       lowed by Tennessee, which is a close sec-         high and included a helicopter pad. The
                                                 ond. A few years back there were 25               price tag, $1.2 million,
for the show was appropriate since Ken-
                                                 manufacturers, but the economy has had an
tucky has the largest number of houseboat
                                                 adverse affect on many businesses, includ-
manufacturers in the nation.                     ing boat manufacturing.

                                                 A Brief History of Houseboat Shows
                                                              The first show produced by
                                                 Houseboat Magazine was in Nashville in
                                                 1999. Based on the attendance and house-
                                                 boat sales it was quite successful. The sec-
                                                 ond show was held in Louisville and it was
                                                 so successful that it’s been held in
                                                 Louisville ever since. Harris Publishing also
                                                 experimented with two shows in Reno, NV,
                                                 but the distance the manufacturers had to
                                                 trail their boats, and the sales racked up, did
                                                 not justify that location. Houseboat Maga-
                                                 zine is also running their third in-water
                                                 houseboat show this year (Aug. 26 - 28) in
              Brady L. Kay                       Lake Cumberland, KY, and based on last
         Brady L. Kay is the executive ed-       year’s results, it should also be very suc-
itor of Houseboat Magazine, one of three         cessful.
boating magazines published by Harris Pub-                    Floating Palaces
                                                                                             Wayne Sabisch, shown below, cooked and
                                                                                             provided samples to those seated in front of
                                                                                             his kitchen. It was one of the most popular
                                                                                             exhibits. There was even a fellow opposite
                                                                                             me who sold E-Z Hang chairs. Based on my
                                                                                             observation, he did very well.

   A Sharpe 95-footer on display. Price tag: $523,673,000. Two were sold.

Each time a houseboat was sold a ship’s        Yamaha F200TXR engine and Trailmaster
horn would sound and I counted 11 horn          trailer. The winner was picked by random
blasts. The CEO’s and presidents of house-     from the houseboat purchasers.
boat companies were also aboard their ves-
sels and, all of them were as hospitable as
any good sale representative.These included
Shawn Heinen of Thoroughbred, Joe                                                            Brand new houseboat safety booklet
Sharpe of Sharpe, Terry Aff of Stardust,
Sheldon Graber of Destination and Jim                                                        I handed out our new 10-Tons booklet to
Goetti of Bravada. George Roberts from                                                       approximately 1,000 houseboat enthusiasts
Sunstar and Bryan Lambert from Sailabra-                                                     and virtually everyone who took the free
tion were also there with a booth.                                                           booklet thanked me.

                                                    Leisure Craft Pontoon boat
                                                              61 Dealers
                                                        The show also featured many
                                               other exhibitors and these included pontoon
                                               boat manufactures, generator companies,
                                               insurance and finance brokers, thruster
                                               manufacturers, boat brokers, marinas, pub-
                                               lications, accessories, Floating Cabin
                                               Homes (towed to a location on the water),
                                               sunglasses, tourism bureaus, wakeboards,
                                               skis and paddle boards, bath remodeling,
                                                                                                       USBI is an umbrella organization,
                                               cleaning products, boat transport companies
                                                                                             and it is made up of representatives of The
                                               and Royal Prestige Cooking Gear. Chef De-
                                                                                             American Red Cross, The American Canoe
                                                                                             Association, The United States Coast Guard
                                                                                             Auxiliary, the United States Power
                                                                                             Squadrons, The United States Sailing Asso-
         Among those fortunate boaters                                                       ciation and the Canadian Power and Sail
who purchased a houseboat at the show, or                                                    Squadrons. It was formed back in the mid
placed an order with money down, this elite                                                  80s to eliminate duplication of effort among
group also qualified for a $70,000.00 prize,                                                 the leading teachers of safe boating, and the
or kickback, as the sponsor described it, of                                                 organization works closely with the US
a Hurricane Sundeck 2400 deck boat from                                                      Coast Guard. 10-Tons & No Brakes is our
Nautic Global Group, complete with a                                                         latest publication, measuring 5 & 1/2 inches
                                                                                             by 8 & 1/2 inches and has 12-pages.
It includes sections on the following: About
those Brakes, If someone Falls Overboard,
Docking, Refueling, Keeping Your Bear-
ings, Check your Local Weather, Some
Rules of the Road, First Aid, In the Still of
the Night, Fire, Dangers Astern: Carbon
Monoxide & Propellers, In case of Emer-
gencies/ Abandon Ship, Dangers when your
boat is Towed, Four No-No’s: No Water
Skiing, No Tinkering, No Operating Under
The Influence & No Wake, and, lastly, Take
a Boating Course. The booklet also contains
14 color photos and illustrations and has a
postage-free return post card that asks the
opinion of the reader of the booklet. USBI
booklets and posters with these postage-free
return post card usually generate positive
changes on the following editions. If you
are a boat manufacturer, a marine insurance
broker, a state organization, or any business          Brady L. Kay and crew at the Houseboat Magazine Booth
connected with houseboats, you can order a
supply of these new houseboat safety book-
lets at no charge. Simply contact Bob Green
at To view other
free USBI boating safety products, go to
          The show ran three days--Friday,
Saturday, and Sunday. Saturday, as ex-
pected, had the largest attendance. Although
the Kentucky Exhibition Center is also the
location for a traditional boat show, accord-
ing to the volunteer members of the
Louisville Sail and Power Squadron, (and
their booth was next to mine), the House-
boat Expo attracts people from all over the
country and world. The traditional boat
show attracts people mostly from the
Louisville Metro area. The Louisville
Squadron attends both shows and Com-                         Floating Cabin Homes latest model for $59,500.
mander Tom Binzer reminded me that all
420 units of  US Power Squadrons provide
a great variety of boating courses and sem-
inars. Many people signed up for courses
during the three-day Expo. For information
on other squadron locations call 888-For-
USPS or go to As a member
of USPS since 1968, I would remiss if I did
not thank the members for the help they
provided in setting up and breaking down
my booth and delivering me to my hotel,
The Hilton Garden Inn. The Squadron vol-
unteers are a great group of boaters.

        I have fond memories of the
Houseboat Magazine National Houseboat
Expo and plan on attending next year. If
you’re a houseboat enthusiastic, visit the
USBI booth.
                  Article and photos by
                                                Cdr. Tom Binzer, standing left, and three other USPS members at their booth.
                      Bob Green, USBI

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