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Detroit show bombards boaters with options

Showgoers shop around Cobo Center


DETROIT -- In one corner of Cobo Center, volunteers with power tools refurbished an antique Chris Craft motorboat.

A few hundred feet away, visitors slipped off their shoes before stepping aboard a 55-foot Sea Ray luxury vessel.

The Detroit Boat Show, now in its 46th year, attracted all sorts of people with varying interests Wednesday -- the main reason many dealers say they would not miss this show for anything.

"You can't afford not to be at the show for what it drives into your showroom," said Mark Weber, co-owner of Compass Pointe Marina in Ira Township.

Weber was one of 200 exhibitors trying to get people's attention at what is considered one of the top boating shows in the Midwest.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS: Colony Marine Sales Associate Jim Sroka, far left, listens Wednesday to prospective boat buyers, from left, Steve Mallie, Joel Radu and Joe Kuc, all of Dearborn, as they sit aboard a 21-foot Sea Ray 200 Select powerboat in Cobo Center during the 46th annual Detroit Boat Show. Radu was looking for a new ski and fishing boat. The boat sells for $31,327 at Colony Marine of Algonac, Pontiac and St. Clair Shores.

Weber was one of 200 exhibitors trying to get people's attention at what is considered one of the top boating shows in the Midwest.

Dealers said crowd size has been fair this week and are hoping for a strong finish this weekend. The show ends Sunday.

The big finish is crucial for the local boating industry, which relies heavily on shows such as the one in Detroit.

David Hare, chief operating officer for Sunsation Powerboats in Clay Township, said the timing of the shows isn't a coincidence.

"All boat shows are timed for the season and the manufacturer," Hare said as he stood next to a $200,000 powerboat.

The winter months are crucial for boat sales because that's the time people typically want to buy. The improving economy is proving itself this week, Hare said.

"You're starting to see the first-time boat buyers coming around," he said.

SHOPPING AROUND: Joel Radu of Dearborn hops aboard a 21-foot Sea Ray 200 Select powerboat Wednesday at the Detroit Boat Show.

The Detroit show brands itself on the larger boats, and this year is no different. Vessels pushing the 50-foot-lengths span the floor at Cobo like giant beached whales.

Bob McFarlane, 60, of St. Clair was walking between 30- and 40-foot boats on display by Colony Marine of Clay Township.

McFarlane is considering downsizing from his 39-footer to something that can fit in his boat slip.

He's looking for "something I can do some fishing in on the (St. Clair) River."

Cobo is the perfect spot to shop compared to other shows, he said.

"It's bigger. It's better."

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