Newport Beach residents Doug and Alice Brownell stood on the docks admiring a 39-foot catamaran exhibited Friday at the Newport Boat Show.
The couple has attended the boat show, now celebrating its 40th anniversary, nearly every year since the 1970s.
"We have our little Duffy, but it's fun to dream," Doug said, as Alice took photos of the catamaran.
The reason the event has grown so big is its location – Newport harbor rather than a convention center floor – greatly enhances the feel and experience of the show by putting boats in their "natural environment," according to founder and producer Duncan McIntosh Jr.
"This is the biggest water boat show on the West Coast," he said. "It's in the water, and because of that, you get the bigger boats."
About 15,000 visitors are expected to attend the show, where would-be-buyers can inspect the crafts.
The Brownells are among those who come to show in search of future upgrades. They said they like to host "happy hour" most weeknights on their Duffy boat, which is docked in Newport Bay, and attend the boat show every year to see what else might be in store for them in the future.
For some, that dream might include the nearly $9.99-million Leight Star, a 140-foot yacht complete with a helicopter pad, steam room, 16 flat screen TVs, 11 bathrooms and three bars.
"It's a party boat," said Captain Wolf Petrasko, who has been at the helm of the Leight Star, the most expensive boat docked at the show, for the past five years. "There are stories, but I don't think I can share them."
The yacht sleeps 12, plus a crew of six, and is available for charter for $15,000 a day.
Next to the Leight Star sat the Shogun, a 122-foot yacht on sale for $4.5 million. Some of its toys include a set of Waverunners, paddleboards, kayaks and an 18-foot inflatable tender.
And true to its name, the yacht is also home to a 400-year-old Samurai armor suit in a glass case in the main living suite.
Though the boat show leads to sales, for four decades the event has been selling dreams – often oversize yachts — to visitors of all walks of life. This year's Friday-to-Sunday gathering will feature about 230 boats — about 40 to 50 of them greater than 70 feet long. Of those, some six vessels are in the 100-foot range.
If You Go
What: Newport Boat Show
Where: Lido Marina Village at Via Lido and Newport Boulevard in Newport Beach
When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $15 for adults and free for children 12 and younger; credit cards are accepted
Parking: Free parking is available with shuttle service every 20 minutes from Hoag Health Center at 500 Superior Ave. on Saturday and Sunday.