Boat Show from last week

While Melissa and I didn’t go to the Atlantic City boat show, her parents did and they were quoted on press of Atlantic City.com. This update is a week late, but as you can see, I was kind of busy last week and didn’t post anything. Enjoy:

Opening day of Atlantic City boat show draws a mix of buyers and browsers

By KEVIN POST, Business Editor | Posted: Thursday, February 4, 2010 |

ATLANTIC CITY – Bruce and Paula Doty came to the opening Wednesday of the Atlantic City International Power Boat Show prepared to buy.

“As the family grows, the boat grows,” Paula Doty said.

“The daughters are getting married, and now we need two more seats for the two sons-in-law, and the 16-footer doesn’t hold them all,” Bruce Doty said.

The Dotys, of Pemberton, Burlington County, said they found great deals and the Carolina Skiff they wanted at the display of Jarvis Marine, of Tuckerton. But the boat packages at the show were top-of-the-line, Bruce Doty said, and they wanted something simpler, so Jarvis will put together a package for them a week after the show.

The boat show was busy for a midweek day with a mix of buyers and just-lookers, and everyone was talking about the discounting brought on by the biggest boating industry slump in 40 years.

“I think the prices have dropped in comparison to previous shows,” said Gayle Lazarus, of South Hampton in Burlington County. “I think the deals are good,” said her husband, Adam.

The Lazaruses weren’t ready to replace their 30-foot Seaswirl Striper, which they’ve had for five years and use mostly for day-trip fishing with an occasional overnight.

They came to see the latest in boats and were a bit disappointed that the show and the boats were smaller this year.

“The sad part of this show right now is I think there are three boats on the floor that are bigger than mine,” Adam Lazarus said. “Even Seaswirl has stopped bringing the big version of my boat.”

This year, as last, there has been no crane to lift big boats from the water to trailer them into Atlantic City Convention Center because demand for the service fell along with the boat market.

“I think this is probably the smallest show I’ve seen, which just shows you the effect of the economy,” Gail Lazarus said.

Jonathan Pritko, who manages the Atlantic City show for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, agreed that this year’s show is the smallest in eight years – “but we still have a great representation of the manufacturers and their product lines.”

Pritko also managed the New York boat show in January for the association, where attendance was up 51 percent and the exhibitors “were very happy,” he said.

Recent show successes and increased activity at boat builders – including those in southern New Jersey – have convinced Thom Dammrich, association president, that the industry is starting to come back after dropping an estimated 30 percent last year from its 2008 U.S. revenue of $13 billion.

“We were predicting 2010 retail would be flat from last year, and we haven’t revised that, but based on some of the early responses from boat shows, it wouldn’t surprise me to see retail sales up a little bit in 2010,” Dammrich said.

Pritko said inventory reductions by boat builders have put the focus back on shows.

“The shows are important because you order your boat now so you’ll have it for spring and summer,” he said.

Pritko’s goal for the Atlantic City show took a step forward this year with first appearance of sailboats in the show. He said he sees future shows running in the Convention Center and Boardwalk Hall, which would exhibit large sailboats with the masts and riggings.

“There are very few venues in the country that can house sailboats with the masts up,” he said.

While a prospective customer with an old sailboat scrutinized a new Beneteau 37, Glenn Winter, of Riverside Marina and Yacht Sales, said the sailboats on display are the least expensive big boats at the show.

Sailboats cost about half as much as similar length power boats, Winter said, with the 36- to 40-foot sailboats at the show selling for $100,000 to $250,000.

This year’s show has given visitors several attractions to see besides boats and every boating accessory imaginable.

Twiggy, a waterskiing squirrel, will perform behind a radio-controlled boat in a pool at 5 and 7 p.m. weekdays and seven more shows on the weekend.

A ship-shaped marine environmental trailer has educational displays and activities for families.

Anglers can tell their best fish stories at 6 p.m. Thursday in hope of winning $1,000 and money to stuff their prize fish (assuming the tale is true).

And at 6:30 p.m. Friday, the show rounds out its demographic appeal with a bikini contest to crown Miss Boat Show 2010.

Overhanging the cheerful, bargain-hunting crowd and exhibitors Wednesday was a cloud – one that drops snow. A winter storm is forecast for the weekend, threatening the shows two biggest days.

Pritko was able to find a silver lining even there.

“When it snows, usually the people who come are very serious,” he said. “That’s usually what we see.”

Contact Kevin Post:

609-272-7250

KPost@pressofac.com

Posted in ATLANTIC CITY on Thursday, February 4, 2010 2:20 am Updated: 3:03 pm.

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