The Old Man and the Sea may get another crack at the big fish.
The 23-foot center console “Ernest Hemingway,” a Pro-Line boat customized with input from the late author’s family, will be among the numerous boats on display at the Atlantic City Boat Show this week.
Bud Dailey, general manager of Avalon Marine Center in Middle Township, said it is one of four different boats the business will bring to the annual indoor show at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
The hope at the show is obviously to sell a few boats, but it also helps boat sellers make contact with prospective buyers who are considering a purchase, Dailey said. It also helps gauge consumer sentiment early in the year.
“Are we getting some good feedback, are people interested in putting deposits on boats, what’s the mood of people?” he said. “With all this snow, it’s going to be an exciting thing to bring people into the show and start thinking about boating.”
The Atlantic City Boat Show will run from Wednesday to Sunday. Last year, more than 32,000 people attended, show manager Jon Pritko said.
This year, the show is expected to draw an audience about 15 percent larger, he said.
The Chicago-based National Marine Manufacturers Association said the industry in 2013 continued its climb from the recession and its aftermath, which battered many segments from 2006 to 2010.
New powerboat sales increased 5 percent last year. This followed 2012, when these sales grew by 10 percent — the industry’s first significant sign of a post-recession recovery, the trade association said.
Retail dollar sales increased an estimated 8 percent, indicating Americans are starting to buy higher-priced boats.
The bulk of the industry’s growth has come from fiberglass and aluminum outboard boats smaller than 26 feet, which increased nearly 7 percent last year.
Boating tends to follow the trends of recreational vehicle industry, housing and other economic indicators, Pritko said.
“Consumer confidence in the economy is increasing, and we see that consumers are going out and are more willing to spend,” he said.
Meanwhile, more boats today tout fuel efficiency, and incorporate the latest trends in technology, including iPad integration, Pritko said.
Apps for iPad can incorporate navigational charts, astronomy, marine regulations, tide charts and even animated instructions on how to tie an Oysterman’s Stopper Knot.
Watercraft at the show will range from 8-foot kayaks to a $1.2 million cruising yacht.
Pontoon boats — a segment that has increased in recent years — remain big sellers but have leveled off, he said.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association said recreational boating is a $35 billion industry when factoring in new and used boat sales, accessories, storage, fuel and other factors.
Pritko said shows like Atlantic City’s play a crucial function to boat sales.
They also offer a series of instructional seminars, events and entertainment.
Some features of the show this year include Dave Carraro, captain of the FV-Tuna.com on National Geographic’s Wicked Tuna, at various times on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
There will also be fly fishing, casting and paddle sports seminars, demos and lessons.
For more information, visit www.acboatshow.com.
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