PORTLAND – It was both happy sails and happy sales at The Maine Boatbuilders Show this weekend.

Exhibitors reported a definite uptick in business at the show after several years of slow sales during the economic recession. One of New England’s premier boat shows with close to 200 exhibiting businesses, the three-day event was expected to draw about 6,000 visitors by the end of Sunday.

“People are looking at boats and writing checks,” said Phineas Sprague, owner of Portland Yacht Services on Fore Street, which hosts the three-day event.

The show is known for attracting serious boaters in the market for anything from a simple rowboat to a luxury yacht, or just for information. It draws heavily from the 45- to 95-year-old male demographic from all over New England.

Sprague said he has been told that the Portland International Jetport sees a surge in private airplane traffic when the show is on. Many of the exhibitors are from Maine, which has a reputation for high-quality boatbuilding.

On Sunday, there was still serious buying under way at the show.

Wickes Rossiter, a Scarborough summer resident, circled a flashy carbon-fiber dinghy built by The Rumery Boat Yard in Biddeford. He said he could easily see the highly polished vessel, which cost $5,000, being towed behind his sailboat.

“I am thinking about it,” Rossiter said.

Bill Walker, of Bay of Maine Boats of Kennebunkport, said the company’s 10-foot fiberglass Kittery Point Tender, a rower-sailboat priced at $6,632, was being snapped up.

“This one is headed to Canada,” Walker said.

Steve White, president of Brooklin Boat Yard, was in negotiations with a potential buyer of a sleek, $400,000 50-foot day sailer.

“We’ll see. It doesn’t happen that often,” White said.

If the deal was clinched, it would be White’s first sale at a boat show.

Hodgon Yachts, which makes luxury yachts in East Boothbay, hadn’t made any sales by Sunday morning, but controller Terri LaPointe said the company has been doing well this year. Recently, the company picked up four new contracts on top of the two already under way.

“Things are picking up,” LaPointe said.

Some attendees said they were at the show just to see and feel beautiful boats. Brian Hughes of Springvale and some of his seven children boarded several of the exhibits. Hughes owns several boats and spends much of the summer with his family off the Maine coast.

“We are enthusiasts and the kids just love it,” Hughes said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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