Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Show Brings out All the Boats; Dealers Heartened by Increased Sales at Convention Center's Annual Event

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Show Brings out All the Boats; Dealers Heartened by Increased Sales at Convention Center's Annual Event

Article excerpt

Byline: Roger Bull

The boats ranged from those powered by a paddle to those that could top 70 mph, thanks to 700 horsepower worth of engines. There were people who just came to look, and those who walked out owning one more boat that they did when they walked in.

The 66th annual Jacksonville Boat Show finished up Sunday afternoon at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. Ken Sherwood, manager of the show, said that there were 18 dealers displaying 300-400 boats.

The boats went from the $749 kayak to the 32-footer with a $219,000 price tag before the options were added.

Actually, the prices went higher. But yacht broker Mark Zeigler just brought photos of his boats, including the 56-foot Neptunus motor yacht listed at $499,950. And it's been a good year for him so far.

"I've been selling yachts for 24 years," he said, "and I can't recall a January where I've had four transactions."

But he does this year. And the increase in sales has a couple of reasons.

"There's pent-up demand," he said, "and a lot of sellers have come to grips with where the market is."

That means they're dropping their prices. He pointed to a photo of a 74-foot Huckins that had been listed at $800,000.

"We dropped it to $599,000 and got some calls," he said. "Now we've got it at $475,000 and we're getting lots of calls.'

He also pointed to a 30-foot Catalina sailboat priced at $20,000.

"A few years ago," he said, "that would have been $50,000. It's unbelievable."

But boats were selling. Zeigler had written a contract on a 32-footer that morning for $133,000.

A 19-foot, $33,000 Yamaha jet boat had a handwritten sign on it: "Sold, but can get another."

Johnny Craig with Stingray Boats stood next to a 24-footer he sold that morning for $49,995. Actually, the buyer just put down a deposit.

"We won't sell a boat without a test drive," Craig said. "That way, someone doesn't go home thinking 'My God, I just spent $60,000,' and can't sleep for two weeks."

No one had bought the 32-foot Contender with the two 350-hp engines yet. …

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