Pittsburgh Boat Show offers deals, free safety classes
From kayaks and fishing boats to luxury yachts, houseboats, pontoons, personal watercraft and more, virtually anything that floats will be on display at the 53rd annual Pittsburgh Boat Show.
Recreational boating has launched a resurgence of interest in Pennsylvania's waterways, according to Andy Talento, spokesman for Tri-River Marine Trade Association, based in Verona, and manager of the boat show since 1984.
Pennsylvania is the 13th largest state in motorboat registrations, and Allegheny County and three surrounding counties account for 25 percent of the state's boating population, he says.
Locally, Pittsburgh's reputation as a recreational boater-friendly city has improved substantially in the past few years, according to Talento.
“Pittsburgh has always had a problem compared to other cities on the water such as Baltimore and Marietta, Ohio, due to the commercial industry here,” he says. “With new marinas and docks at places like Station Square, Sandcastle and Washington's Landing, recreational boating is picking up. And the economy seems to be improving, so interest is on the upswing.”
Across the state, 85,000 miles of rivers and streams and 76 natural lakes that provide 5,266 acres of flatwater offer unlimited opportunities for boaters, according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Talento says the Pittsburgh Boat Show offers boating enthusiasts a chance to preview and compare the newest models and negotiate “off-season deals” with any of the 20 registered boat and marine sales exhibitors.
“This is the best time of year for consumers to shop for their choice in boat options and colors and order it now, so they have their new boat in the spring,” he says. Besides dealers offering a variety of watercraft and accessories, the boat show features a number of other exhibitors, including the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, Professional Marine Operators, Tri-River Marine Trade Association Inc., U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron.
Dave Zazac, public affairs officer, Flotilla 78, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, says the boat show gives the public an opportunity to learn about vessel safety and boat equipment requirements and obtain information about volunteering with the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Members of the Allegheny Chapter Antique and Classic Boat Society will be on hand to display their antique and wooden vessels, answer questions about restoring boats and recruit new members. Spokesman Bob Miklos of Bellevue says the group includes many members like himself and his brothers who grew up in a family of boating enthusiasts.
“A lot of us have a lot of good memories,” Miklos says. “Our grandfather bought his wooden Century new in 1941 and the boat is still in the family.”
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will provide two free boating safety education classes at the boat show on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those who complete the eight-hour class on Saturday will receive free admission to the boat show the next day.
Completion of the boating safety course is a state requirement for all operators born after Jan. 1, 1982, who have motorboats with 25 or more horsepower motors or personal watercraft. Bring a photo ID or proof of identification by 8:45 a.m. to sign up for the class.
Candy Williams is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.