Pittsburgh Boat Show features dealers from around area

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Boating enthusiasts are expected to flock to the 53rd Annual Pittsburgh Boat Show opening today, Thursday, at the Monroeville Convention Center to find deals on watercraft.

Since it's the slow season for boat and watercraft manufacturers, they are cutting deals to their dealers, who are passing those savings along to buyers, said show manager Andy Talento.

“You can get the boat you want and you can get the pricing you want,” Talento said.

People who order a boat now can most likely get it in the water by spring instead of waiting a few months to buy when manufacturers are busy and orders take longer. And it's more convenient.

“You can come to the boat show and see dealers from all over the area. They're all going to be right here in one place,” Talento said.

The show runs through Sunday and will feature pontoons, ski boats, cruisers, jet skis, canoes, kayaks and more.

It's too early to tell what will be the biggest boat on display, as many dealers won't know until they arrive and see how much they can fit. Last year's biggest was a 32-foot cruiser, Talento said.

But lately pontoon boats have been popular, said Jay Sharer, a manager and sales representative for Fox Chapel Marine.

“They're very affordable. You can put a lot of people on them and have a lot of fun,” Sharer said.

Along with the estimated 30 boats they'll bring to the show, Sharer said the new Avalon pontoon boat should excite pontoon lovers. The brand is new to Pittsburgh.

The other boats on display will include 19- to 35-seat “roundabouts” or 24- to 35-seat cruisers, with the latter running $75,000 to $325,000.

Jet skiers can visit Mosites Motorsports of North Huntingdon, featuring at least 10 types of personal watercraft, said Mosites general manager, John Zalenchak.

“We offer pretty much the best deals of the year at the boat show,” Zalenchak said.

Mosites, which also offers vehicles for on-road and off-road sports, specializes in selling SeaDoo and Kawasaki jet skis, both of which will be on display.

Zalenchak said SeaDoo in particular “has been raising the bar on their products.”

Some of the displayed models will be set up to sit on so that boat show patrons can get the true feeling of riding a jet ski, Zalenchak said.

Whatever they are looking for, Talento said potential boaters shouldn't wait to buy when they retire or when the kids go off to college, especially in Pittsburgh.

“It think it's the greatest family sport there is,” said Talento, who said he owned a houseboat for his own family.

“Pittsburgh's really a boating community and I don't think the word is out there yet on how much there is do out there (on the water),” Talento said.

The boat show will offer a free boating safety course to obtain a boating safety certificate, which will be taught by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

The certificate is required for operators of motorboats with 25 horsepower or greater motors born after Jan. 1, 1982, and operators of personal watercraft.

Those who need a certificate can attend either the classes on Saturday or Sunday, both of which will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Talento said. To take the class, bring photo identification and arrive at the front entrance at 8:45 a.m. People who complete Saturday's course will receive one free admission to the show.

Educational opportunities will also be on the show floor at the Boaters are Voters booth, which is an organization that advocates for the needs of professional boaters, said representative George Boyle.

He will be there ready to answer questions regarding regulations affecting watercraft users, such as the importance of wearing life jackets or heeding off-limit waterways.

“Primarily we're around so everyone can have a good time enjoying the water,” said Boyle, who is also a licensed U.S. Coast Guard captain.

Boyle has explored waters from all over the world and recently wrote a book about his adventures, something prompted by other people's suggestions. It's appropriately titled “You ought to write a book.”

He expects to have some available for purchase at the boat show.

Also, at the show will be representatives from both the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary as well as the U.S. Power Squadron.

For more information on the show visit, www.pittsburghboatshow.com.

Natalie Beneviat is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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