"Never been to the Miami Show?" The salesman's eyebrows shot up, and I was almost expecting Water Rat's classic follow-up question from the Wind in the Willows: "Well—what have you been doing, then?"

We'd just arrived in Miami, ready for the biggest boat show of the year to begin. This guy was obviously a veteran: he knew where to catch the shuttle, rattled off the address of his favorite breakfast place, and will undoubtedly recognize many of the people he meets on the docks the next few days.

This newbie, on the other hand, will be winging it, attending press conferences, peering at name tags, and trying to absorb everything that's going on around me—an impossible task at such a huge show.

2013 Miami Boat Show setup Sea Ray

Workers at the Sea Ray display set up for the start of the 2013 Miami Boat Show.

I'm pretty excited to be here, a member of a 20-plus team from the editorial, sales, and marketing departments of boats.com, YachtWorld, and Boat Trader. And we've got plenty of veterans in our group, too: most of our writers have been coming to the show since the mid-80s. Which is hardly surprising, since the Miami Boat Show is the place to be for anyone buying, selling, dreaming of, thinking about, or otherwise interested in boats and boat-related products. New products will be recognized with innovation awards, marine journalists will be recognized by Boating Writers International, and friends and acquaintances from around the world will be reunited, joined together by a common love of boating.

With four locations including the separate Yacht and Brokerage Show, logistics are a challenge and advance planning is a must. Fortunately I've been well-coached, so I'm as prepared as I can be for the challenges and excitement of the next few days.

I don't know exactly what to expect, but I am sure of one thing: a leisurely row across The River (like the one the Water Rat was experiencing)  is not in the cards. Even with a busy Intracoastal Waterway to the west and open Atlantic whitecaps to the east, I will be too busy focusing on docks and displays and following my calendar of press events to enjoy any time on the water.

But I do know one thing. No matter what happens, four days from now, I'll no longer be a Miami Boat Show Newbie.

Don't miss any aspect of the 2013 Miami International Boat Show — whether you're at the event or checking in from afar. Join the conversation on Twitter by using #boatsdotcom. If you’re taking pictures at the show, we’d love to share them on our Pinterest boards! Create an MIB board on Pinterest and tag us in your captions.