WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Wilmington Boat Show attendees don’t have to look too hard for proof that the boating lifestyle has become extremely popular during the pandemic, particularly in southeastern North Carolina.
More and more experienced boaters and first-time buyers are entering the market.
“With our presence in Hampstead – all the new neighborhoods are coming in – we’ve seen a lot of new boaters,” said a boat technician from Carolina Outboard, a Hampstead-based boat dealership attending the show. “We still have regular customers, but there are a lot of new boaters in the community. “
Demand for boats and marine products has exploded during the pandemic. Not only is high demand weighing on supply, but supply chain issues are causing delays for virtually everything.
“If you order an engine from me today, you might see it next Thanksgiving,” said Dave Ittner of Yamaha Motor Corporation, who is the title sponsor of the event. “We are sold. The boat companies are sold. They are building boats now and taking orders for 2023. “
Show founder Jacqui McGuinness, president of JBM & Associates, has been producing boat shows for 20 years and said interest and demand during the pandemic was unlike anything she had ever seen.
“People are going through the pandemic and during the pandemic what did they want to do? They wanted to connect with their family and friends and what better way to do that than on the water? McGuinness said. “So people were crying out loud to buy boats.”
For the past few years, the show has used the Port City Marina. However, with more people buying boats there are, of course, more people who need boat slips.
“Due to the incredible demand for boating – they’re full,” McGuinness said of the marina. “They’re so full they have a waiting list to get in, which is amazing because when we started with them they were empty and they had just opened.”
After what experts are calling an all-time sales year, the boat show is expected to attract newbies, veterans and enthusiasts.
Cory Morrison grew up in the area and is looking to buy his first boat soon.
“It’s definitely something that is in the works. We’re now looking at a few different boats, but it’s good to get a feel for everything and see what’s out there, ”he said as he walked through the boats on display at the show.
The boat show takes place all weekend inside and outside the Wilmington Convention Center with over 60 participating vendors. In addition, there will be fishing seminars, food trucks, live music and more.
The show will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets are available online.
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