VIBS 2014With steady attendance, motivated shoppers, reports of strong boat and retail sales plus unseasonably sunny weather to keep everyone smiling, the 2014 Vancouver International Boat Show apparently marked another positive milestone for the West Coast boating market.

This year VIBS moved to a new late-January slot from its traditional dates in early February, which conflicted with BC’s new Family Day long weekend. The new dates followed the Toronto International Boat Show closely and coincided with the opening weekend of the Seattle Boat Show, resulting in some notable absences in Vancouver as exhibitors were unable to overcome timing conflicts for displays and staff.

But the move to January 22-26 appeared to have little impact on show attendance, which built to a very busy Saturday and a stronger than usual Sunday. Sunny, dry weather shone on the floating exhibits at Granville Island ¬ – until a cool and foggy Sunday morning – and seemed to put show-goers in a cheery, let’s-go-boating mood.VIBS 2014 Indoor and On Water

From show opening, exhibitors reported seeing positive and motivated customers, among the best quality attendees in recent years, and anticipated strong sales.

“We have noticed that attendees are arriving very motivated and excited to get out on the water this summer,” said M&P Mercury’s Bob Pappajohn. “We anticipate finishing the show with a significant increase in sales from last year.”

“The majority of customers are all qualified and we have been extremely happy with what we have seen so far,” said Dave Turner of Port Boat House.

“We had a great first day and anticipate a strong weekend,” added Brendan Keys of GA Checkpoint.

By Sunday, dealers and brokers on the docks at Granville Island, where most of the show’s big sail and powerboats were displayed, were very upbeat, reporting multiple boat sales and strong leads.

Overall, the mood at BC Place and Granville Island was as positive as most observers remembered in several years, boding well for the health of the industry in 2014.

VIBS also attracted particularly strong media interest and coverage this year, much of it for actress Dawn Wells, who played castaway Mary Ann on the ‘60s TV series Gilligan’s Island and appeared at the show with the show’s original SS Minnow, now immaculately restored and berthed in Nanaimo BC.