(BPT) - Post-holiday sales aren't the only deals to be found this winter. Winter boat shows offer some of the best pricing and incentives of the year - a major draw for the estimated 87 million Americans who take to the water each year, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. For those ready to plan summer fun, boat shows can be a good place to start.
Unlike auto shows, boat shows are the place to buy. They create a unique shopping experience since hundreds of boats of all types are under one roof ready to board, browse and buy. Consider it a quick and convenient way to get familiar with manufacturers and your local dealers as you compare their products. Boat shows also offer the chance to shop the latest gadgets for your boat, and attend an array of boating educational seminars for all levels of interest.
Discover Boating, the national awareness program to help get people on the water, offers the following tips for navigating buying a boat at a boat show:
* Do your homework. Before attending a local boat show, a little research can go a long way. Spend time on DiscoverBoating.com to identify the different types of boats that fit your budget and lifestyle - try the boat selector and loan calculator tools. There's even a boat show finder to locate a boat show in your area.
* Warm up with hot deals. Hundreds of new models are available to buy on the show floor at some of the best prices of the year. Exhibitors generally offer special show pricing or other incentives at shows. Plus, it's the perfect time to order a new boat to ensure it arrives ready to launch in spring.
* Develop your nautical know-how.Boat shows are a great place for beginners to learn about the boat buying process as well as the boating lifestyle. Many provide boater education seminars and hands-on training, as well as displays of boats that can be financed for $250 a month or less.
* Get your feet wet. Boat shows bring the great outdoors indoors in the middle of winter. Participate in an array of activities (often at no additional cost) including fishing for kids, paddlesports, seminars, antique boats and more. Take the opportunity to meet other boaters, as many make their local boat show a winter rendezvous.
* Look for the seal of approval. Look for boats marked NMMA Certified, as they have met strict industry product quality standards. Also look for Marine Industry Certified Dealers - boat retailers who have made a commitment to top-quality buying and maintenance experiences.
Winter boat shows are an easy way to learn how to get on the water, plus a chance to enjoy a taste of summer during the coldest months of the year. Visit DiscoverBoating.com to find a boat show near you, a list of certified dealers and manufacturers, and unbiased advice for getting started in boating.