Escape winter doldrums: Warm up with hot deals at your local boat show

(BPT) - Winter may be frigid for many, but it’s an ideal time to plan for warmer days ahead that could be enjoyed on a boat with friends and family. Beginning in January, boat shows take place across the country offering some of the hottest deals around with special pricing and incentives on new boat models and marine accessories — a major draw for the 142 million Americans who take to the water each year, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

For those ready to plan their summer adventures on the water, boat shows are the perfect place to start. Whether it’s fishing, sailing, cruising, riding personal watercraft, wakesurfing or tubing — attendees have the unique opportunity to browse and board the latest boats and marine accessories. Take advantage of educational opportunities and discover various ways to get on the water — from buying, trying, sharing or renting.

Discover Boating, a national program to help people get on the water and experience the fun of boating, offers four tips to get the most out of your visit to a boat show near you this year:

Escape cabin fever for the year’s best deals.

Unlike auto shows, boat shows are the place to buy with hundreds of new models available for purchase right on the show floor. Boat shows make it easy for you to shop all the region’s dealers in one location. Plus, it’s the perfect time to order a new boat to ensure it arrives ready to launch in the spring. Find out what a boat show is all about.

Test the waters.

You can learn the ropes of boating and take advantage of onsite training, which is usually offered at little to no cost. Beginners can learn about boating, and more experienced captains are able to hone their skills. Plus, boat shows offer fun and interactive activities for the whole family from knot-tying and boating 101 seminars to remote-control docking ponds and virtual reality boating simulators and more.

Find your virtual dreamboat.

Before visiting a boat show, you’ll want to know which boats to shop. Start your search online with DiscoverBoating.com’s Boat Finder tool to identify which boat types fit your lifestyle, interests and budget. Plug in your preferences for on-water activities, number of passengers, propulsion, etc. to narrow down boat options before heading to your local boat show.

Look for the seal of approval.

When shopping for a boat at a show, online or at a dealership, always check to make sure it is NMMA Certified. NMMA Certified boat and trailer manufacturers have been independently inspected to ensure they meet strict industry standards for safety and construction, as well as all federal regulations. Look for the NMMA Certified sticker near the helm of a boat.

Find out what a boat show is all about by visiting DiscoverBoating.com, where you'll find a list of certified boat manufacturers, a boat loan calculator to estimate monthly payments, plus more interactive tools and resources for getting started in boating.