Fantasy flotilla ties up For nautical dreamers among us, the Seaside Boat Show beckons

February 07, 1993|By Pat Emory | Pat Emory,Contributing Writer

Big nautical dreams and small landlubbers' hopes alike are riding on the sale of boats and gear at the 11th annual Ocean City Seaside Boat Show, which takes place Feb. 12-14 at the Ocean City Convention Center.

The sponsoring Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club hopes that many of this year's visitors fulfill fantasies by purchasing boats. And dealers, for their part, are anticipating a surge in boat sales that will end a four-year drought.

"A lot of the newer small boats are much more affordable," says David Pilvelait, spokesman for Boat U.S., a national boat owners association. Jet skis, too, have been big sellers, he says, and they also will be displayed at the Ocean City show.

Aside from hoping for purchasers aplenty, the Optimist Club has big dreams of its own that are tied to the turnout. Money from each ticket will go toward helping children in Worcester County in some manner: providing books or perhaps a coat; setting up an athletic league or a 4-H Club; and enabling someone to attend college.

The so-called "Show that Helps the Kids" is expected to raise more than $80,000 to benefit about 3,000 children in Worcester County through 38 different organizations and programs.

There will be still other opportunities to fulfill dreams at this year's boat show. First, there's the door prize that's too big to get in most doors: a 20-foot Sweetwater pontoon boat that will be sent home with one of the expected 10,000 visitors.

And those with even more expensive dreams can invest in a $100 ticket that could land them a $100,000 oceanfront condominium.

Businesses associated with the show believe it is the Optimist Club's charitable aspirations that help make it such a success.

"Almost every other boat show is profit-motivated," says Scott McCurdy, owner of North Bay Marina.

He donated the $8,800, shallow-draft pontoon boat for the raffle because, he says, he knows how hard the Optimist Club volunteers work to put on a good show and raise money for the children of Worcester County.

Each of the 65 members of the Optimist Club donates time to make the boat show a success, Mr. McCurdy says. "For some of these guys, it's damned near a second job."

In 1988, the boat show's best year, 150 boats were sold, Mr. McCurdy says. Although boat sales slumped dramatically in the years since, he nevertheless believes that the ratio of visitors to boat sales has been encouraging.

"For its size, this show is probably one of the best in the country," he says.

This year, the Convention Center will again be filled with more than 100 exhibitors. Thirty boat dealers from the mid-Atlantic region will be showing 250 different watercraft, from jet skis, canoes, inflatable dinghies and small sailboats to large custom workboats and deep-sea fishing boats.

Show hours are from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14. Admission is $4 for adults, $1 for children accompanied by a parent.

The price of admission automatically qualifies visitors for the pontoon boat door prize, which is to be raffled at the end of the show Sunday. The drawing for the condo lottery also will be held Sunday afternoon. The club will offer only 1,600 tickets, to ensure that raffle ticket holders will have a realistic chance of winning.

This year's condo prize is an oceanfront two-bedroom, two-bath, fully furnished unit on the 15th floor of the Atlantis Condominium at 103rd Street. Its furnishings are new, and the Optimist Club will pick up the tab for settlement costs and a buyer protection plan for the winner, bringing the value of the prize to about $110,000.

To purchase a ticket, send a $100 check, made payable to the Ocean City Optimist Club, to: Ocean City/Berlin Optimist Club, P.O. Box 26, Ocean City, Md. 21842. In Ocean City, tickets can be purchased at Donald's Duck Shoppe in the Gold Coast Mall, 115th Street. Tickets also will be available at the boat show until they run out.

For additional ticket information, call Cleaning Management Inc. at (410) 289-1857.

All funds raised through the condo lottery go into the Optimist Club's Student Scholarship Program.

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