BANGOR, Maine — Some men and women came to dream of sailing on the open seas.
Lots of couples arrived in search of bargains their families and friends can share and enjoy.
Most people, however, said that for them, the annual Boating and Marine Show held over the weekend at the Bangor Auditorium and Civic Center is a sure sign that winter finally is ebbing and open water soon will beckon.
Wes Gerrish, 38, and Tim Quinn, 34, both of Bangor, come to the show every year.
“We never buy anything,” Gerrish said Saturday. “We just drool.”
Both men said that if they won the lottery or suddenly came into enough money to do something more than dream, they’d buy fishing boats.
“I have a young son I like to take fishing,” said Gerrish, who owns a canoe. “My first pick would be a boat that I could use to water-ski and fish from on fresh and salt water.”
Cara Pinkham, 32, and her husband, Rod Pinkham, 58, of Franklin sold their motorboat last year, she said. They came to the 2009 show to look at pontoon boats. On Saturday, they were close to deciding on a model to use on Donnell Pond.
“We want to entertain a little more,” she said. “I have a sister in New York who visits and my parents are in the area, plus we have friends we like to hang on the dock with in the summer.”
To help turn more lookers into buyers, manufacturers and dealers offered show specials and sale prices. Business was better this year than last, according to Frank Michaud of Hamlin’s Marina in Hampden.
“They’re buying,” he said of the people who came to the Boat Show in Bangor and the Sportsmen’s Show last weekend at the University of Maine. “We had very good luck in Orono, so we brought 34 boats to display at this show. We’ve never brought that kind of inventory before.”
Michaud speculated that people who have held off buying for the past two years will buy this year to spend more time with their families in Maine enjoying nearby recreational opportunities.
“Instead of spending $2,000 to $3,000 to take a vacation out of state,” he said, “they’re spending a bit more money to buy something they will be able to enjoy with their families a lot longer.”
Michaud said people were buying small- to medium-sized fishing boats and pontoon boats for lakes and ponds.
Bill Bragdon of McKay’s RV and Marine Center in Brewer said people seemed to be looking and coming to the show as part of “day out” activities to take in the sunny weather Saturday where temperatures were in the high 30s in Bangor.
Sensitive to the difficult economic times, Aqua Patio Boats of Elkhart, Ind., a manufacturer of pontoon boats, cut prices for the show and even manufactured a special model available only at boat shows, Dan Higgins of Hamlin’s in Hampden said.
“It’s not even in the catalog,” he said. “It’s definitely a buyers’ market.”