A little water can't keep the boat enthusiasts away.
The threat of flooding on the heels of a nor'easter didn't deter boat lovers from packing the Atlantic City Convention Center on Saturday, day four of its biggest event of the year.
The Progressive Atlantic City Boat Show, a five-day affair, featured more than 500 vessels and exhibitors this year, ranging from small kayaks and fishing boats to luxurious yachts with price tags pushing $1 million.
Friday saw a drop in attendance because of the storm and foreboding forecasts. But attendance bounced back Saturday, said John Pritko, show manager and vice president of Northeast Shows. That's great news for dealers, who attended from throughout the United States.
"This show is very important, and for some dealers, their boat show can be up to 50 percent of their sales for the entire year, it's so significant," Pritko said. "And unlike an auto show where people just go and look, people purchase."
Dealers offer special discounts that aren't repeated any other time of the year.
Dean Mancini, the owner of Riptide Marine Center in Bayville, N.J., has been attending the show for about 20 years, priding himself on selling well-built boats for affordable prices. The event is the source of 50 percent to 60 percent of his dealership's annual sales.
"We sell Carolina Skiff, Stingray, and Sea Chaser boats. We sell boats from a real good category … pretty much an affordable boat or an affordable dream," he said. "In our dealership, we don't sell big boats. We don't sell things that are $230,000."
The show offers his and other dealerships the opportunity to display new models for the season, allowing people to gather under one roof to make fair comparisons with other sellers.
And while March and the winter's wrath it often delivers might not seem conducive to selling boats on the East Coast, Pritko said it's actually an ideal time – if a buyer wants to be on the water by summer.
"You have to order it now; otherwise it's not going to be ready," Pritko said.
For those in the market for something a little less, well, traditional, the show offered the Water Car, capable of driving on land and in water. It no doubt would have appealed to many residents of Shore towns whose streets were underwater during high tides thanks to the nor'easter.
"You can drive it right out of your house and down the local ramp and right into the water with it," said Tim Jones, a salesman for Water Car, a company headquartered in California. "I use it as a shortcut to get to my beach house in Long Beach Island. Miss all of the bridge traffic."
The amphibious vehicle, which generally retails above $100,000, can reach 45 mph on water and 60 mph on terra firma.
"In the last two months we've sold about 200 of them," Jones said. "I've got a boat and jet skis – and I didn't even use them last year, I used this."
The popularity of the boat show mirrors a growing industry for boats in New Jersey and the Philadelphia area, which gives a boost to local communities, said Amanda Brokaw, a spokeswoman for the event.
New Jersey sees an economic impact of $2.2 billion a year from boat sales, as well as almost 12,000 direct and indirect maritime jobs, according to a news release for the boat show.
Not that buying a boat is the only way to enjoy the event. There are also boating courses, boat-racing virtual reality, and boat tours, including one of a working Coast Guard vessel.
But for Mancini, it was all about sales. And he was a satisfied guy Saturday.
"Right now the economy's very good, so the boat sales are very good," he said. "We're happy and we're doing very well down here again."