Non-boaters might not understand, but the boating season in Charleston officially kicks off this weekend.
It's still a little nippy on the water, but it will be warm and comfortable inside the Charleston Area Convention Center for the 32nd annual Charleston Boat Show, which runs today through Sunday.
"It's like somebody turns the switch on. People start thinking about boats and that's a good thing," said Milo Hanckel of Hanckel Marine, who is president of the Tri-County Marine Dealers Association.
While the industry has been hampered by the recent economic downturn, the outlook is starting to look a little more sunny. Hanckel said dealers are beginning to see more foot traffic and "if that's any indication, it's going to be a good show."
Jacqui Bomar of JBM Associates, which has promoted the event since 2002, said the Charleston boating market has done a good job of maintaining its position in the marine industry.
"I think that's a testament to the smart group of dealers we have, that they could weather the storm so well," Bomar said. "All of our major dealers have survived. They put so much into the show and a lot of their success is based on how they do at the show."
She said the show has two major sponsors this year -- Mercury Marine and Allstate -- which is a good sign and that she has hasn't felt as optimistic since 2008
"Once sponsors start coming back, you know people are spending money again," Bomar said. "Sponsorships for shows, any shows, have been very difficult. Sponsors didn't have the money to put into events. Now they do. They see the value."
While the show is primarily about boats, it also offer other exhibitors, seminars and other activities. Manufacturers involved in the marine industry will be on hand as well as local merchants involved in boating, fishing and hunting.