Big Boats

SANDUSKY A mile of docks to set up. A week and a half of organizing and prepa
May 24, 2010



A mile of docks to set up.

A week and a half of organizing and preparation.

And now, the 35th annual North American In-Water Boat Show is underway.

"We wanted to get a running start into the weekend," said Mike DiLorenzo, assistant advertising and public relations manager for the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, which organizes the show.

About 700 boats are on display at the five-day event at Cedar Point Marina. The usually empty space on Cedar Point's south harbor is now filled with lines of sparkling clean boats, mesmerizing boating enthusiasts at the largest in-water boat show on the Great Lakes.

This year's event has the most boats on display in the last 10 years. The show continues to be successful every year because of the number of boaters in the area, DiLorenzo said.

"It is one of the densest boating populations in the country," he said. "It's definitely grown a lot."

The event began 35 years ago with fewer than 100 boats on display and one tent filled with just 16 accessory displays. Fast forward to 2007 and there are nearly 700 boats and more than 100 accessory exhibits.

Gary and Bev Ontko of Perkins Township enjoyed strolling up and down the docks Wednesday afternoon in between rows and rows of shimmering boats. Warm sunshine and a crisp breeze made the day even more enjoyable for those visiting the boat show.

"This time of year being outside ... it really puts you in a boating mood," said Gary Ontko, who has enjoyed boating all his life. "It gets you excited about boating next year."

Tim and Gloria Smith of Sandusky leisurely walked the docks browsing the different types of boats on display. They bought an 11-foot powerboat Wednesday at a price they considered "a wonderful deal."

"I love to see the boats ... the ideas ... the new designs. This is where you see it," Tim Smith said.

Tents filled with display booths and food vendors dot the water's edge at Cedar Point Marina, creating a fun and relaxing atmosphere. There are plenty of sights and sounds to enjoy at the outdoor event, including a boat shaped like a Tobasco hot sauce bottle.

Ron and Mary Doe of Huron took a boat ride over to Cedar Point from Kelleys Island to see the newest boat models on the market.

"They've got a little bit of everything," Ron Doe said.

"And food," Mary Doe added.

Several activities were added to the show this year.

Last year's popular powerboat demo dock has returned to this year's event. Free test-drives from several manufacturers are offered on boats in the 20- to 35-foot range.

A free half-hour sailboat ride will be offered to guests at the Discover Sailing Center, courtesy of Sail America. A party barge with music and audience participation activities will also be available for people looking to take a break or catch up with old friends. Allstate Insurance Agency will give away free lifejackets to children on Saturday and Sunday -- while supplies last -- as part of its safety weekends program.

Boat brokers and dealers agree that the North American In-Water Boat Show is one of largest boat shows in the region.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't think people were interested in purchasing (boats)," said Randy Dystra, regional sales manager for Zodiac brand boats.

Meg Anderson, a yacht broker for Tartan C&C Yachts of Ohio is anticipating a great turnout this weekend.

"Weather this year is supposed to be great," Anderson said. "I'm expecting this to be a great show."


Today: noon to 7 p.m.

Friday: noon to 7 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Sunday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Adults: $9

Children 12 and under: FREE

Seniors: $7 (Today and Friday only)