Hi gang, Rick here again with Used Pontoon Boats with a eport from the the Greater Rochester Boat Show. Clifford Anderson stopped by the Greater Rochester Boat Show on a mission — to see in person what he has been ogling online for months: the 2008 Tahoe Q6 SF.
The 21-foot midsize runabout would be perfect for family fun on the Finger Lakes, said Anderson, 52, of Caledonia, Livingston County. Also, the two rear bucket seats can be moved to the bow for an optimal fishing position. That $23,495 price tag is what's standing in his way.
Anderson works for auto-parts manufacturer Delphi Corp. and has decided to wait another year before making the plunge, because of the company's economic troubles. So for the next year, he said, "I'm really going to work hard with my wife and talk her into getting it."
While marinas across the country have had a tougher time reeling in prospective buyers like Anderson over the last two years, local dealers at the Greater Rochester Boat Show said Sunday that recent economic pessimism hasn't dampened sales.
"All major shows around this area have done well," said David Heimes, sales manager for McMillan Marine in Webster, who helped organize the show at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.
Nationally, retail boat sales fell 10 percent last year after slipping 6 percent in 2006, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. The organization expects that this year won't be much better, hoping that sales at least stay flat.
It's a common misconception that only the rich can afford a boat, said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. He points out that 75 percent of all sailboats and powerboats are owned by families with household incomes less than $100,000.
"Boating is solidly a middle-American, middle-class activity," Dammrich said.
The recent drop in boat sales correlates with the recent dip in the housing market, he said, with sales in California, Florida and Michigan — which also are traditionally boating hotbeds — taking the hardest hit.
But, Heimes said, the Rochester region has bucked the trend. The Greater Rochester Boat Show, which ran Thursday through Sunday, had more than 8,000 visitors — up from the 7,000 who attended in each of the previous two years.
A survey of residents in Monroe County and portions of Wayne, Ontario, Livingston, Genesee and Orleans counties by Scarborough Research, which measures consumer shopping trends, found that about 37,000 people in the area own powerboats and about 5,000 more plan to buy one within the next year.
Heimes said relatively low interest rates, ranging from 5.99 percent to 7.99 percent, depending on a person's credit history, have lured in more potential buyers. Many of those, he said, have been our northern neighbors, taking advantage of the Canadian dollar's relative strength.
This year's hot seller: pontoon boats. Once considered the staple of the senior demographic, pontoon boats are becoming popular across generations because more powerful motors have made it possible to use them for tubing and waterskiing, said Quinn Bellamy, vice president of Silver Lake Marine in Wyoming County.
"Now, you've basically got a floating living room with all your amenities," Bellamy said.
Mark McMann, president of Ballantyne RV & Marine in Victor, said pontoon boats are perfect for groups that want to chug along at low speed or even turn off and have a little summer afternoon party on the water without burning fuel.
Penny Britton of Canandaigua, Ontario County, said she is very worried about the rising price of gasoline, but not enough that it would stop her from letting her husband, Kurt, buy a boat this year.
"She's looking for something practical. I'm not," Kurt Britton said with a chuckle.
The Brittons have been looking to buy a boat for three or four years. Now that Kurt is retiring from his position at the Monroe County Water Authority in July, they are planning to buy a 20-foot boat, something that fits in their price range of $20,000 to $25,000.
"If you can afford a big boat, then you can afford the gas," he said.
Bellamy said the prospect of buying a boat can seem less intimidating when the cost is considered over time. Someone who buys a $15,000, 18-foot fiberglass runabout can pay about $150 a month. Add in the $350 or $400 it costs to winterize and store, and the boat can cost less than $2,500 a year.
"You can't go to DisneyWorld for four days with your family for that," Bellamy said.
Barry Brenner, 59, is looking to trade in his 18-year-old boat for a higher-end 22-foot craft, something in the $40,000 to $70,000 range, to use at his cottage on Keuka Lake. Brenner, who retired last spring from his job as a corporate strategist for Kodak, said the boating industry will compete for the attention — and pocketbooks — of the barrage of baby boomers retiring in the coming years.
"There are only so many hours in a day to play with my toys," Brenner said, "and I have to choose among them." Thanks to James Hawver, democratandchronicle.com
Used Pontoon Boats, By Rick Ostler
Used Pontoon Boats-North American Waterway
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