With more than three million square feet of exhibitor space at six different venues, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is a behemoth and the possibility of being side swiped by Hurricane Sandy is not lost on the 1,200 vendors.
"Yes, there is going to be a lot of concern tomorrow with the squall bands that are probably going to roll through here," said Joseph Tress, captain of the Abracci. "We cannot get out. Nobody here can get out."
The Abracci is a renovated motor yacht originally built in Broward. Tress was working to secure the $4 million vessel on Wednesday.
"We are going to put out extra fenders and dock lines and everybody is going to double up on all their lines. Show management is going around putting in extra eye bolts on all their docks," said Tress.
"Everybody is getting chains and wrapping them around the dock and the big eye beams to hold us back," said Rick Lenardson, captain of the Status Quo, a 150-feet composite yacht built in Canada.
Lenardson said the $24 million luxury motor yacht should be fine thanks to safety in numbers.
"You see storms like this happen all over the world, and where they are really bad is down in the South Pacific and you will see all the fishing boats get together and do the same thing basically," said Lenardson. "When you are rafted together with fenders on like this, nothing really gets hurt."
But it's not just pricey yachts at risk. On the deck of the Status Quo is a five seater Eurocopter 120.
"It is not a Federal Aviation rule that would not allow us to take it off out of here. It is because the show management people are worried with liability concerns if something went wrong," said Lenardson. 'So what are you going to do?' So we will unbolt the blades and take those off and that will eliminate the problem."
"If you have the big boat, then you have to have the fancy car," Susan Penrod with Ferrari Maserati of Fort Lauderdale. "Basically, we turned on the news this morning and realized we are going to be effected by the storm, so we are regrouping on our display and where we were going to have a tent we are not going to have a tent. We are redirecting our plan."
About 100,000 people attend the show each year to gaze at over 1,000 boats both in and out of the water, so safety is a concern.
"You have to take weather seriously and as boaters here, we are always watching weather during the boat show and when we are not doing the boat show, so we are constantly keeping a finger on the pulse of what the weather is doing at all times," said Daniel Grant, a spokesman for the show.
The most expensive mega yachts are moored along the Intracoastal Waterway on a temporary dock system that is interconnected. Some yacht captains have reportedly considered using steel chains to secure their pricey products should rough weather from Sandy become an issue, but show management says they have been producing this event for 53 years and the show will go on.
"Nothing has changed. We are setting up the show as usual. It will run as usual, same dates as usual," said Grant.
The show's planned aerial flyover and fireworks show was rescheduled because of the gusty wind conditions expected this weekend. It will now happen at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and the fireworks show will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday.