The Miami Herald
For the first time in 51 years, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show -- which runs Thursday through Monday at five locations -- will offer an expo devoted to diving, complete with seminars, retailers and travel agents.
The Blue Wild Dive and Travel Show will be located near the entrance to the Broward County Convention Center.
The Blue Wild is the creation of U.S. champion spearfisher and Outdoor Channel television personality Sheri Daye of Boca Raton, who launched it four years ago in South Florida as a stand-alone, specialty expo. In June, it drew a crowd of about 2,000 to the convention center.
Dane Graziano, senior vice president of Show Management, Inc., expects the new element to enhance the experience for show goers.
``We're trying to make some good, positive changes to the show to make it something for everybody,'' Graziano said.
``Diving has always been a popular sport, but it never got its recognition here.''
Daye has lined up an eclectic range of speakers. They include: internationally acclaimed freediving coach Kirk Krack and South Florida safety expert Julie Richardson on breath-hold diving; shark-bite survivors/captains Mike Beach and Kent Bonde of Miami Beach on shark conservation; U.S. Coast Guard search-and-rescue experts Kent Reinhold and Bob Hovey on rescues at sea; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law enforcement personnel Lt. Dave Bingham, officers Rob Murphy and Hank Juntunen and Juntunen's dog, Gauge; Daye and colleague Dave Earp on spearfishing and lobstering tactics; and boating and diving in the Bahamas with spearfisher/angler Jon Cooper and boat dealer Gary Lawson.
Several local retailers will display scuba and freediving gear for sale, and a host of travel agencies will present their dive vacation packages. Show goers will be able to meet and chat with speakers at happy hour Friday and Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., featuring refreshments and raffles.
Daye said he hopes the displays and seminars will attract new diving enthusiasts.
``A lot of boaters do dive,'' she said. ``I think a lot more fishermen should jump in and look around. ''
The boat show almost always has showcased fishing, and this year is no different. But new this time is the International Game Fish Association's eight minisessions of its popular School of Sportfishing at the convention center.
From Thursday through Sunday, would-be anglers can learn the fundamentals of sportfishing from captain Tony DiGiulian; kingfish, sailfish, wahoo, and dolphin tactics from captains Jamie Bunn, Josh Brown and Ray Rosher; swordfish strategies from captain Bouncer Smith; inshore snook, tarpon and trout fishing by captain Mike Holliday; marlin and tuna fishing from captain Karl Anderson; and flats fishing with captain Rick Murphy.
Saturday and Sunday will feature fishing opportunities for children. Don Dingman, founder and host of Hook the Future, will conduct youth fishing clinics from noon to 2 p.m. at the convention center for ages 5-16.
For the niche market of saltwater fly fishers, Hell's Bay Boatworks -- maker of custom flats skiffs -- will hold a joint public appearance by two of the sport's greats, Flip Pallot, creator/producer of the long-runningcable television show Walkers Cay Chronicles, and Chico Fernandez, author and expert fly caster.
Pallot and Fernandez will be at Hell's Bay's booth No. 2040 in the convention center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.