Hi gang, Rick here again from Used Pontoon Boats. Area boat dealers were more than nervous heading into this week's Cleveland Boat & Waterfront Lifestyle Expo at the I-X Center. The economy is stumbling while marine fuel and boat prices are on the rise.
The recent recreational vehicle show, usually an indicator of success for boat sales, did not set the world on fire.
Cruising the I-X Center during the opening weekend of the Cleveland Boat Show, it was evident many dealers were pleasantly surprised with boat sales during the first few days of the long show, which runs through Sunday (Jan. 20). With good weather - at least for a boat show - the crowds have been fair to good.
The most robust segment of the boating industry has been the sales of the biggest boats. Some boat makers have scaled back the production of mid-size boats in the past year and focused on the ultra-expensive yachts for the mariners who can best handle $4 per gallon marine fuel.
Ted Patrick, of Lake & Bay Yacht Sales in Marblehead, sells luxury Egg Harbor yachts. Boats that can cost $1 million, and sometimes quite a bit more. His customers aren't as concerned with the price of fuel as they are with the availability of diesel fuel and gasoline, he said.
Sales of small boats and personal watercraft have been good, too. The fishermen in the crowd were looking at smaller boats and less powerful, more fuel-efficient outboards. Only the tournament bass anglers and walleye fishermen want to pin the largest outboards possible on the transoms of their sleek boats.
The everyday anglers are more willing to downsize. Fuel-saving outboard motors in the 40- to 115-horsepower range are becoming the standard. Boats that spend much of their lives on trailers, and can be fueled at the local gas station instead of the more expensive marina gas pumps, are dominating the market.
It's difficult to call the expansive show the Cleveland Boat & Waterfront Lifestyle Expo. For many of us, the winter event will always be the Cleveland Boat Show. And, despite the Cleveland Sports, Travel and Outdoor Show being trimmed to just five days on March 12-16, don't expect the Cleveland Boat Show to shorten its stay.
Executive Director Ken Alvey of the sponsoring Lake Erie Marine Trades Association said his show is hosted by the area's boat dealers, who demand a 10-day show that covers two weekends. Bad weather - a blizzard is always a possibility at this time of year in Cleveland - would be devastating to a show that has only a single weekend to do business, Alvey said.
The most attractive boat of the show was the glamorous Italian 44-foot Mochi Craft from the Ferrette Group and displayed by MarineMax. The on-water two-story condos from Coastal Floating Homes at Coastal Marine II in Port Clinton are expensive, but solidly built. Boats in the 16- to 22-foot range abound, with the high-sided Lund and Starcraft models perfect for the big waters of Lake Erie.
The pontoon-style boats plush each year. Some are designed with a shell that can turn a pontoon boat into a summer cottage. Charles Mill Marina on Charles Mill Reservoir in Mansfield has a model with a pop-up, private portable bathroom.
The marine electronics on display at the show are more sophisticated, as expected. The Lowrance models that combine sonar and Global Positioning System (GPS) are all capable of teaming with a radar antenna. Thanks to D'Arcy Egan, cleveland.com for this.
Used Pontoon Boats, By Rick Ostler
Used Pontoon Boats-North American Waterway
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