Onshore Offshore Boat Show expected to draw 9,000 to Palmetto

rdymond@bradenton.comJanuary 3, 2014 

PALMETTO -- Mike and Jeanie Lynch of Northwest Bradenton have a pontoon and an aluminum boat up north, but sold their Florida boats when they decided they just wouldn't be using them that much.

But the boat bug just won't go away for the snowbird couple.

"Whenever we drive over the bridge onto Anna Maria Island and see that sparkling water, we think, 'We gotta get back out there,' " Jeanie Lynch said.

The Lynches were part of a small but steady crowd that populated the Bradenton Area Convention Center, One Haben Blvd, Palmetto beginning at 10 a.m. Friday for the start of the Second Annual Onshore Offshore Boat Show.

The event hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults age 13 and older and is free for children age 12 and younger.

"She loves to fish and I love the water," Mike Lynch said. "So the boat will have to accommodate fishing."

"It just needs to have a little potty," Jeanie Lynch said with a grin.

The Lynches and the rest of Friday's crowd had plenty of vessels to choose from.

The show, which is expected to draw 9,000 fans of boats, fishing and marine and fishing gear over the weekend, has more than 100 boats, said Jim Scilligo, event promoter.

"We had our first OnShore Offshore over the summer at the Convention Center but we didn't have boats outside," Scilligo said. "This weekend we have more boats outside than we have inside."

There are about 12 dealers at the show and all together, roughly 20 or so lines of boats, Scilligo said.

Boats range in price from $20,000 to more than $150,000.

"All of the boats at the show are for fishing and family recreation and we made sure that all are accessible to all income levels," Scilligo said.

Scott Traylor and Ryan Cook of Discount Tackle Outlet, 3113 First St., Bradenton, have brought about a half dozen kayaks to the show, ranging from $850 to around $2,000.

The kayaks at the show are all one-person and can allow the boater to stand up while fishing, Traylor said Friday morning.

"With gasoline prices, kayaks have become hugely popular for exercise and fishing," Traylor added.

Although Discount Tackle Outlet hadn't sold any kayaks Friday afternoon, they have had people drive from the show to their downtown location to look at other varieties, Traylor said.

Mike Sfura, a sales representative with SaraBay Marina at 7040 N. Tamiami Trail in Manatee County, just north of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, was showing people a Key West model 15-foot Sportsman fishing boat that with motor and trailer, was less than $20,000.

Sfura said people were serious about buying a boat at the show.

"They are inquiring, not just looking," Sfura said.

SaraBay Marina, which sells boats and stores them as a full service facility, is coming off a strong year for boat sales, Sfura said.

"During 2013, our company had a 25 percent increase in volume of sales over 2012," Sfura said. "The economy is getting better. People were holding onto their boats and now they are trading up. So used boats are more readily available."

Banks have also gotten "very aggressive" about loaning money on boats, Sfura said.

"Banks stopped financing boats in 2007 and 2008," Sfura said. "That has changed. Now they want the loans."

Most banks will want to see 20 percent down on a boat, Sfura said.

The Key West fishing boat, motor and trailer that Sfura has for sale will go for about $300 a month with $3,000 down for a buyer with good credit, Sfura said.

"But about 50 percent of our customers are just writing a check for the whole amount," he said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-0772 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.

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