WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Attendees of the Wilmington Boat Show don’t have to look very hard for proof that the boating lifestyle has become extremely popular during the pandemic, especially in Southeastern North Carolina.
Experienced boaters and first-time buyers are entering the market in greater numbers.
“With us being in Hampstead — all the new neighborhoods coming in — we’ve seen a lot of new boaters,” said a boat technician with Carolina Outboard, a boat dealer located in Hampstead that’s participating in the show. “We still have the regular customers but there’s a lot of new boaters to the community.”
The demand for boats and marine products has skyrocketed during the pandemic. Not only is high demand weighing on supply, but supply chain issues are leading to delays for essentially everything.
“If you ordered an engine today from me you might see it next Thanksgiving,” said Dave Ittner with Yamaha Motor Corporation, which is the title sponsor of the event. “We’re sold out. The boat companies are sold out. They’re 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 is unlike anything she has ever seen.
“People get through the pandemic and during the pandemic what’d they want to do? They wanted to connect with their family and friends and what better way to do it except on the water?” said McGuinness. “So people were clamoring to buy boats.”
In past years, the show has utilized the Port City Marina. However, with more people buying boats — there’s, of course, more people who need boat slips.
“Due to the incredible demand for boating — they are full,” said McGuinness about the marina. “They are so full they’ve got a waiting list to get in which is unheard of because when we started with them they were empty and they had just opened.”
Following what experts call an unprecedented sales year the boat show is expected to reel in beginners, veterans and enthusiasts alike.
Cory Morrison grew up in the area and is looking to buy purchase 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 nice just to kind of get an idea of everything and see what’s out there,” he said as he perused the boats on display at the show.
The boat show is taking place all weekend inside and outside the Wilmington Convention Center with over 60 vendors participating. In addition, 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 online.
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