After a long winter with an economy as bleak as the weather, the boats will return to Annapolis tomorrow, raising boat dealers' hopes of more prosperous times for the marine industry.
The second annual Annapolis Spring Boat Show runs through Sunday and, unlike the first, combines both new and used boats in one event.
With more than 150 new and used boats, this year's show will offer more boats for sale in one weekend that last spring's event, said Jeffrey Holland, show spokesman.
Overall, he noted, fewer boats will be for sale this year, because of a double blow to the industry -- the recession and the 10 percent luxury tax on new boats that cost $100,000 or more, Holland said.
The resulting dip in sales of new boats has forced more and more boat manufacturers and dealers out of business. The loss also has meant fewer boats being built and fewer vessels available for the show, Holland said.
Of the boats on displayat Annapolis Yacht Basin on Compromise Street, half will be sailboats and half will be power boats, he said. About 60 percent will be new.
New sailboats range from a JY 15 racing dinghy to a 50-foot Catalina cruiser. New power boats will include a Nimble Nomad Trawler anda Flye Point 36 Downeast Cruiser.
Yacht brokers, not boat owners,will sell the used boats. They include sailboats such as a Herreshoff 18-foot cat ketch, as well as 44-foot boats and such powerboats as the Glassport runabout to a more luxurious 56-foot Ocean motor yacht.
Prices will range from about $5,000 to $500,000. About 10 percentof the show's new boats cost $100,000 or more and would be subject to the 10 percent luxury tax that took effect last year.
The majority of the exhibitors come from the Annapolis area, though several hail from New Jersey and one comes from Nova Scotia.
Visitors will also have a chance to buy nautical equipment and accessories and talk to bankers about financing a boat purchase.
Last spring, some 10,000 visitors came to the new show, sponsored by the Marine Trades Association of Maryland Inc. and the Yacht Architects and Brokers Association Inc. Organizers planned the show to spotlight local marine businesses, rather than to draw the bigger, international companies that exhibit in boat shows the groups sponsor each fall.
Holland predictsanother strong turnout this year, noting that marine dealers have begun noticing slight increases in demand.
"The used market has had quite a good year," Holland said.
The fact that organizers have successfully put together a show of this scope during a recession bodeswell for its future in Annapolis, Holland said.
"The concept is sound," he said. "Here is a show where a local boater can find either a new or used boat and find financing, a slip and everything he needsto set himself up at the start of the boating season.
"People might not be following the old trend of buying a boat two feet longer every other year, but they're puting money into their boats and customizing them," he said.
The show runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrowthrough Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission will be $6 for adults and free for children 12 years old and younger, accompanied by an adult.