ATLANTIC CITY — Dozens of new sport fishing boats and yachts bobbed gently Wednesday at the docks at Farley State Marina, as workers washed and detailed their glistening white exteriors for the Atlantic City In-Water Power Boat Show.
Perhaps no finishing touch is too small for boats whose price tags are more than most cars.
Some — like the Azimut 64 — has a cabin as large as a living room and a list price of nearly $2.7 million. A sign on the yacht asks browsers to take off their shoes.
The boat show takes place from today through Sunday at the Farley State Marina, where organizers say more than 350 boats will be in the water and on land.
That is 100 boats more than last year, and a sign the economy is improving, said Jerry Flaxman, co-producer of the show.
“The economy is getting better and people feel more secure about themselves … and they’re getting back to do what they enjoy,” he said.
The prices of boats will range from around $20,000 for pontoon boats to high-end yachts in the millions of dollars, he said.
The boating industry took some seriously hard knocks from the economic downturn as sales plummeted from 2007 to 2010 and remained nearly flat in 2011. The industry saw positive signs in 2012
Traditional powerboat sales reached 157,300 boats in 2012, a 10 percent increase from the year before when they reached 312,700, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
Overall unit sales for powerboats are still about half those from 2005, the association says.
The average retail price of a new traditional powerboat last year was $37,140.
“The market we want to see come back is the over 35-feet (boat),” Flaxman said.
Lou Piergross, sales manager for South Jersey Yacht Sales, said the economy somewhat shifted more customers away from bigger boats, which are more expensive and costlier to operate.
Even with a somewhat shaky economy now and high fuel prices, boaters are anxious to get in the water, he said.
“I see it to the point where people are tired of waiting,” he said. “Even though the stock market is up, business is difficult, fuel prices are up. I think people are tired of waiting,” he said.
“It’s very important to invite your customers and let people see your boats and get a chance to see what you have to offer,” he said of boat shows.
He said spring is still the prime buying season, when about 75 percent of sales take place, but fall offers times to see the new models and make orders for the spring.
“We do get a lot of boats ordered for spring delivery,” he said. “We sell a decent amount at the fall in the shows.”
The upcoming boat show is one of a few big shows that take place in Atlantic City throughout the year.
Each February, the Atlantic City Boat Show takes place at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
At the Atlantic City In-Water Power Boat Show, Flaxman expects 15,000 to 18,000 attendants this year and said about 2,000 tickets were already sold online in advance.
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