WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Wilmington Boat Show attendees don’t have to look hard to prove that the boating lifestyle has become hugely popular during the pandemic, especially in Southeast Carolina North.
Experienced yachtsmen and first-time buyers are increasingly arriving on the market.
“With us being in Hampstead – all the new neighborhoods coming in – we’ve seen a lot of new boaters,” said a boat technician at Carolina Outboard, a Hampstead-based boat dealership that attends the show. “We still have repeat 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 ordered an engine from me today, you might see it next Thanksgiving,” said Dave Ittner of Yamaha Motor Corporation, which is the event’s title sponsor. “We are exhausted. The boat companies are exhausted. 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 the interest and demand during the pandemic was unlike anything she had ever seen.
“People are going through the pandemic and during the pandemic what would they want to do? They wanted to connect with family and friends and what better way to do that than on the water? said McGuinness. “So people were clamoring to buy boats.”
In recent years, the show has used Port City Marina. However, with more people buying boats, there are, of course, more people needing boat ramps.
“Due to incredible boating demand, they are full,” McGuinness said of the marina. “They are so full they have a waiting list to sign up which is unheard of because when we started with them they were empty and they had just opened.”
After what experts call an unprecedented 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’s in the works. We’re looking at a few different boats now, but it’s good to get a feel for everything and see what’s out there,” he said as he browsed the boats on display at the show.
The boat show runs all weekend inside and outside the Wilmington Convention Center with more than 60 vendors in attendance. Plus, there will be fishing seminars, food trucks, live music and more.
The show will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets are available on line.
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