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Charleston Boat Show adds boating classes for women

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Women on Water offers instructions on how to safely operate and dock a boat. Photo provided

Coming up with innovative ideas for a boat show that will be celebrating its 40th anniversary can be a challenge, but the Charleston Boat Show thinks it has come up with a winner this year.

The Charleston Boat Show, set for Jan. 24-26 at the Charleston Area Convention Center, is set for Jan. 24-26. The show is put on by the Tri-County Marine Trade Association and will feature more than 85 boat brands and more than 100 vendors selling marine-related products and services. In addition to the new boats, there also will be a variety of classes and seminars, including MarineMax Women on Water boating classes.

"I've always wanted to do something more for women," said Jacqui McGuinness, whose JBM & Associates has been producing the show for 19 years. "We came upon this talking to one of our dealers in Jacksonville and found out MarineMax in Charleston does a huge program. It's going to be very interesting, teaching women all different things about boating. They're going to be in a comfortable environment. There's a huge market, and more women are buying boats on their own now."


Diana De Carvalho of MarineMax. Photo provided

Diana De Carvalho, regional marketing manager for MarineMax Hall Marine Charleston, said this will be a more condensed version of the classes the dealership regularly puts on for women with four classes during the show. Unlike the store classes where students get time actually driving and docking a boat under a licensed captain's watch, the boat show will be strictly classroom. Preregistration is required and can be done under the events tab at

"We will be learning about rules on the water, the waterways here in Charleston, how to tie knots and answer any questions," De Carvalho said.

"Our classes are all done by our licensed store captain. They've been a huge hit, always a full class, and we have a waiting list. It's a comfortable, relaxed environment for ladies to feel comfortable asking questions, learning more about docking.

"After doing these classes for a few years, what I've noticed and I get from all the ladies is that they just don't feel comfortable with their husbands or boyfriends or whoever. There's just too much pressure and in this kind of environment they always come out of it really relieved with how much they get out of the class."


MarineMax Women on Water classes will be part of the Charleston Boat Show. Photo provided

But Women on Water won't be the only classes boat show attendees will enjoy. McGuinness said the fishing clinics put together by Tim Wilson of Wilmington, N.C., have also been expanded. Musicians Pernell McDaniel and Waltzing Matilda will perform throughout the show, and there will be pirates, Mermaid Oracle face painting and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources' boating simulator for the kids. All seminars and classes will be held on Saturday and Sunday.

McGuinness said the show has grown immensely in its 40-year history and will recognize its origins at a now-defunct shopping mall in North Charleston with pictures from the first show in 1980 that was put on by Duncan’s Boat City, Summerville Marine, Dorchester Marine, Outboard Shop, Seels and Marine Center (now Hanckel Marine). Half of the show is now in the parking lot at the Charleston Area Convention Center, and McGuinness said the show could use twice as much space on the exhibit hall floor.

The Charleston Boat Show tickets are: $12 for adults; $5 for kids 4-12; free for kids under 3; $5 for adults with military IDs; $8 for seniors. A two-day pass is available for $20. Hours: Friday noon-6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Parking is free.

For tickets and details, go to

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