PALMETTO -- Brandon and Barbie Wilt of Coral Shores subdivision off Cortez Road and their 11-year-old daughter, Brooke, want a new boat.
"Big enough to have all my friends on," said Brooke, who will attend King Middle School in the fall.
The family's 21-foot Sea Swirl is a little bouncy and not the kind of boat where the family and lots of friends can roam around easily or jump off for swimming and island exploring.
So, Brandon Wilt, who works in information technology at J.P. Morgan in
Tampa, brought his family Sunday to the final day of the three-day Onshore Offshore Boat Show at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.
"I would say things are doing a little better," Brandon Wilt replied when asked if he is comfortable enough with the economy to invest in a new boat.
The Wilts fell in love with a 26-foot Jupiter being shown by Capt. Mike Adams of Cannons Marina that can seat up to 12.
The Wilt's dream boat was made just a mile away at Jupiter Marine, 1103 12th Ave. E., Palmetto,
"It's the ultimate SUV," Adams said of the sleek Jupiter, which seemed to scream "p-a-r-t-y".
"You can go cruising for a day with your family or fish a tournament with your buddies."
The Jupiter listed for $134,000.
"We're looking for a newer used boat," Brandon Wilt whispered.
The Wilts gathered valuable shopping information at the show, but they didn't pick up a new boat.
Others did. And others purchased bows for bow fishing and a myriad of other items, said event organizer Jim Scilligo.
The crowds weren't huge during the revival of the show after a five-year absence but attendance was viable all three days, Scilligo said.
"We had steady crowds that slowed toward evening," Scilligo said. "In the future we will stick to more daytime hours."
The show is a remake of the old Manatee Convention and Civic Center Fishing College shows presented by the Herald. It will return in early January, Scilligo said.
Those who didn't make it over the weekend missed an interesting cast of vendors and outdoor experts, including Palmetto fishing Capt. Rachel Cato, who talked snook with fishing fans.
"Snook are definitely addictive," Cato said. "Once you catch one, you are hooked. They are drag-screaming fighters."
Cato takes in-shore fishing charters all year round right out of Palmetto.
Gary Norris came to Palmetto to represent The Archery Shop. He let people shoot a bow in his trailer and sold quite a few, he said.
"Bow fishing is a hot item right now," Norris said. "You can bow fish any non-game fish, so that includes mullet, catfish, drum, stingrays and many others."
Bill Erickson of Erickson Marine was another familiar face at the show. Erickson has run Erickson Marine for 16 years and was also senior vice president of sales and marketing at Wellcraft in Manatee County before it left the area.
Erickson said boats are manufactured better than ever these days.
"What we are seeing is that the entrepreneurs are coming back into the boat industry and they understand boats," Erickson said. "They are not a bunch of suits running the companies."
Lines such as Regal, Tidewater, Contender, Sportsman and others are building exciting boats now, Erickson said.
Erickson said he sold two 24-foot Sportsman Bay Boats at the show, each going for $59,900, including a trailer and a 300-horsepower Yamaha motor.
Adams praised Jupiter Marine, which moved from Fort Lauderdale to Palmetto in 2002 and is run by Carl Herndon.
"Simple elegance, with fit and finish second to none," Adams said of the Palmetto-made Jupiter.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.