Gulfcoast Yacht and Boat show enjoys first weekend on Coast

GULFPORT-- Boating, fishing and water sports enthusiasts may consider the Gulfport Harbor a dreamland for the next two weekends at the fourth Annual Gulfcoast Yacht and Boat Show. The show continues Sunday and returns April 15-17.

For five years, the event was held in Orange Beach, Ala. until show owner Rob Lynch moved it to the Coast four years ago.

"You've got the fishermen, the pleasure boaters, the cruisers; there's different demographics that makes up the overall demographic of the boating community," Lynch said. "It was really a no-brainer decision to bring it from a smaller facility with a lack of support to a place like this, where we get so much help and so much support from everybody."

The Gulfcoast Yacht and Boat Show is exhibiting up to 600 different types of bass boats, pontoons, center console cruisers, runabouts and yachts of every make, ranging from 10 to 70 feet in length and representing the top name brands of boat makers in the boating world.

"We're very proud to be the only power, paddle and sail shows on the Gulf Coast," Lynch said. "We encompass all the divisions of watercraft. Plus, we're the only show on the Gulf Coast that has factory displays from Mercury Marine and Yamaha Marine, the two major dominant outboard engine manufacturers in the world."

Lynch projects up to 30,000 people to visit the Yacht and Boat Show, drawing in from 18 states and three countries. The Show may also be considered a haven for those in the boating and fishing industry as substantial dollars are expected to be passed through during the six-day event.

"We have different style of boats; we have bay boats for fishing, we have bay/deck boats that does both, as long as they provide for family fun," said Junie Creel of Biloxi-based Seven C's Marine. "We want to get them out on the water and have fun."

Ed Braswell, associated with Cape Fear Catamarans, a boat building company, brought four boats from their home base in Wilmington, N.C.

"A lot of people like versatile boats that can go either out into the ocean or to the bayous and lakes, so that they can go anywhere in the water," said Braswell. "A lot of people appreciate good quality boats and want to buy them."

Several boats on display serve different purposes, more than fishing and riding.

"We're looking for something for a combination of fishing and just riding for pleasure," said Hank Anray of Ocean Springs. Anray and his wife, Ellen, were looking for a new boat. They've owned a 39-footer for the last 14 years looking and considering switching to something smaller.

The Yacht and Boat Show also includes seminars, entertainment and activities for the entire family.

"It's really a whole combination of everything you think of when it comes to boating," said Lynch. "There's something for everybody from three to 70 years old; that's how we create the show."