WEST PALM BEACH — Not everyone came to buy. Some came to gawk at vessels like the 200-foot Diamonds Are Forever yacht built in Italy, which features its own gym, beauty parlor and sauna. Others took their kids to learn angling tips or see vintage boats like a tug with a cartoon face.
But the "sold" sign on a $2 million yacht symbolized better days in the upscale end of the boating world.
Sales traffic and results were "far better" at the 27th annual Palm Beach International Boat Show than during the economic squeeze of three or four years ago, said Steve Moynihan, a founder of HMY Yachts, a Dania Beach-based sales and brokerage business with three offices in Palm Beach County.
"I'd say this is for a couple of reasons: general upswing in the economy, and pent-up demand for people to go enjoy themselves and their passions," he said.
Attendance climbed 12 percent in the first two days compared to last year, organizers said. All told, the four-day event that ended Sunday was on track to draw more than 50,000 people.
It covered more space than ever, thanks to the addition of 40 in-water slips at Palm Harbor Marina at the show's north end along Flagler Avenue. In square footage, it ranks among the nation's top 10 shows.
All told, more than $350 million worth of marine merchandise was on display, including more big boats. The number of boats longer than 100 feet was up 35 percent from last year.
Aside from the occasional rain shower on the closing afternoon, there was little to dampen the mood of show organizers.
"It's been a great success," said Andrew Doole, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Show Management. "People are buying boats again."