If you want a new boat this summer,  you should probably buy now.

Demand is up, and supply is tight, boat dealers say. And besides, dealers and manufacturers are offering their best deals at the Mid-America Boat Show in Cleveland, which starts Jan. 18.

South Shore Marine in Huron is carting about two dozen boats, beginning today, to the I-X Center for the four-day show. The dealership, which opened a gleaming navy-and-white showroom in November, sells more than 250 boats a year, ranging from about $10,000 to $1 million, to customers all over the South Shore of Lake Erie. About two-thirds of the boats are used (or “pre-owned” in dealer parlance).

“The boat show always marks an exciting kick-off for the new year,” said South Shore Marine general manager Tom Mack. “You can feel the emotions rise as (people) want to get thinking spring. You go to the Cleveland Boat Show to go inside and stay warm and see all the new exciting products, and see friends who you see on the water.”

Cleveland is Ohio’s oldest and largest boat show, and this year, since no outdoor show is coming to Cleveland, the event will feature the Fish NOW Expo, with a 5,000-gallon aquarium on wheels. Fishing experts will demonstrate how fish take bait and lures. And they’ll teach kids how to rig and use a cane fishing pole.

Vendors will also have kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. The Cleveland Metroparks will have the elCee 2 water taxi.

And the Put-in-Bay pavilion will have lobster bisque from the Boardwalk restaurant on South Bass Island and live music by popular island entertainers, including Ray Fogg and Westside Steve Simmons.

So why is demand up? It’s probably still from years of recession, Mack said. Consumer confidence has now increased, and people are ready to buy for the first time, or upgrade to a new boat.

“They want to go out and celebrate,” he said. They want to be out on the water. They want that family time. So what’s happened, the manufacturers can only build the boats so fast and still do it right. So there’s probably more buyers than supply right now. So you need to get with your dealer and figure out what you want and get out there.”

While demand for power boats is up, both sailing and cruising — traveling on your boat for longer than a weekend — are down, Mack said. People just don’t have the time for long trips, and they don’t want to spend their leisure time rigging lines and hauling up the jib.

“Time is precious,” Mack said. “They have an urgent desire to play and have fun, but they don’t have time.”

Are you going to to the boat show? Look for RocktheLake. We’ll be there all four days!

 

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