May 2017

2017 Hilton Head Island Boat Show

Author: Lisa Simpson

The first week of May, Hilton Head Island becomes a temporary home to some of the country’s most impressive boats—all nested in the safe, locked Windmill Harbour Marina. These 60-plus boats are in town to celebrate the thirteenth annual Hilton Head Island Boat Show, one of only a handful of in-water boat shows in the Southeast. This year’s show is slated to be the largest yet, bringing together beautiful boats, an eclectic mix of vendors and fun things to do.

The 2017 Boat Show line-up includes power and sailboats of various sizes, including a selection of brokerage boats. The prospective buyer or curious show-goer, can tour all the show boats and meet with their dealers. New to the show is Vanquish Boats, who will have a center-console and dual-console on display. MJM Yachts will be back for a second year at the show, with the classy, New England-style 50Z. Coastal Carolina Yacht Sales will display a Tiara Yachts 44, a Back Cove 37 and a Pursuit 32, among others. Sailboats on display include a beautifully restored Mason 44 and a Beneteau Oceanis 35. A total of over 60 boats will be shown in water and on land.

Smaller boats will also be featured at the show, including the 14-foot Lightning Bug Electric, which will be available for test rides. Outside Hilton Head will be back for the fifth year with PaddleFest, a celebration of everything kayaking related. In addition to “sea trials” of all of Outside’s kayaks, PaddleFest will feature displays by YETI coolers, OluKai footwear, Exofficio clothing, Astral Buoyancy lifejackets, Watershed dry bags and several other product lines. Kayak and kayak fishing clinics will be offered by Outside Hilton Head on both days of the boat show.

Beyond the boats, the show has a mix of on-land vendors that complement the boating lifestyle. New this year is Selina King, a local jeweler now based in New York. Coastal Sunglasses will set up an eyewear store showcasing Ray Ban, Maui Jim and others. A total of over 45 booths will be set up, including art, décor, fashion and gear vendors from around the country. The boat show is a great place to shop for unique items you may not find elsewhere.

Information about boating education, services and organizations will also feature prominently at The Hilton Head Island Boat Show. The Coast Guard will perform a helicopter rescue demo on Saturday afternoon. A boating simulator, which teaches boat handling in virtual reality, will be available to try, presented by The Hilton Head Sail & Power Squadron. If you already own a boat or if you buy a boat, the Squadron will also offer free safety assessments. If you have questions about insuring your new boat or dock, Maritime Insurance, a premier South Carolina marine insurance broker, will have experts on hand.

Along with everything to see, try and buy, the boat show will feature live entertainment from the Chilly Willy band on Saturday and the Junior Jazz Stars on Sunday. A Kentucky Derby cocktail party, hosted by the charismatic Monty Jett, will be held on Saturday afternoon at The South Carolina Yacht Club pool bar. The event will feature eclectic bluegrass tunes from The Lowcountry Boil Band, Woodford Reserve cocktails, and traditional Derby fare– all overlooking the marina full of beautiful boats.

Among all its great features, the star of The Hilton Head Island Boat Show is Windmill Harbour itself. This scenic neighborhood is usually open only to residents, guests and club members. For boat show weekend, the community will on display for attendees to experience its waterfront lifestyle. Open houses will be held throughout Windmill Harbour from noon to 4 p.m. each day of the show. A dedicated group of Windmill Harbour property owners, slip owners and Yacht Club members will volunteer their time to run the show and provide community information. 

Ticket information and sales at

What: Hilton Head Island Boat Show
When: May 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; May 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Windmill Harbour Marina
• Over 60 boats to view and tour
• Over 40 on-land tents, including gear, fashion, art, décor and marine services
• Music, kayak demos, activities and Kentucky Derby party.
Who: Open to all ages. Pets discouraged, not permitted on boats
Parking: Free parking & trolley ride to show entry
Food & Drinks: The South Carolina Yacht Club Grille will have food for sale on the show promenade from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Drinks and ice cream will be available throughout the show.

Tickets: General admission for Saturday or Sunday is $15 for adults, $10 for children age 12 and under. Kentucky Derby cocktail party is $50 per person and includes Saturday boat show admission. South Carolina Yacht Club dining packages available. Sonesta Resort accommodations packages available.

Insider tips: It should be a bright, sunny day. Be sure to wear sunscreen, a hat and comfortable, non-marking shoes.

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