Jacksonville Boat Show kicks off

Event held Friday through Sunday at Prime Osborn Convention Center

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The 68th annual Jacksonville Boat Show kicked off Friday with events, seminars, giveaways and, of course, boat displays.

The Jacksonville Marine Association and 121 Financial Credit Union sponsor the event, taking place at the Prime Osborn Convention Center through Sunday.

IMAGES: 2015 Boat Show

Times are Friday to 8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m..

There will be several seminars offered at the boat show:

  • Ladies Fishing Clinic led by Britteny Novalsk on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
  • Hook the Future Clinic led by Don Dingman. (Kids Fishing Clinic) Free Rods and Reels will be given out to all children who participate in the clinic. The clinic will be offered Saturday and Sunday at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Boat Care 101 Clinic led by Don Racine Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Buddy Haskell, president of the Jacksonville Marine Association, said boating is coming back as the economy improves. Boat sales are projected to grow 5 to7 percent this year.  Falling gas prices are helping get more people on the water.

"We've got the most affordable boats here," Haskell said. "Have a little Bayliner for like $17,000 to a Boston Whaler that's half a million dollars so we have anything in between that anybody would want in one location."

Boats range in price from $16,000 to $480,000. Financing is available at the boat show.

The biggest boat on display is the 30 Express Regal. The all-fiberglass made deck, hull and stringer is 30 feet with a twin engine. It costs $170,000 and has cup holders, a sink, fridge, cooler space, seating and lounging areas, and a bathroom facility in the cabin.

The event will have a number of features and giveaways, including eight food trucks and a dessert truck on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

There is plenty of help at the show for would-be boaters who aren't sure what they want. There are also educational areas, including a Boat Simulator by Jax Sail and Power Squad and a JU Interactive Salt Water Tank all weekend.

"You got to go through the slalom course and then there is a crossing and over taking where they have a boat going across you from different ways so you have to know who's the stand on or give what vessel," said Tom Anderson, power squadron commander.

Giveaways include free life jackets for the first 121 kids to arrive on Saturday. Also, a free stand-up paddle board from the Jacksonville Marine Association, along with a paddle board lesson from All Wet Sports. You can also enter to win a Mustang Survival MIT 100 inflatable PFD and a pair of Ocean Waves sunglasses.

The Boat Show will have a large variety of boats on display, from skiing, fishing, cruisers, personal watercrafts and more. There will be activities for the kids all day.

Tickets can be purchased at the Prime Osborn Convention Center at the following prices:

  • Adults $10
  • Children 12 and under $5
  • Seniors (55+) & Military with ID $8
  • Sea Tow Members $9

Fore more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.boatjax.com.

About the Authors: