The boating industry already has navigated the choppy seas of the recession. Now, it’s seeing smoother waters ahead.

U.S. boat sales

Figures include new traditional powerboats and personal watercraft sold in the U.S. About 940,000 pre-owned boats sold last year as well.

2016: 251,200 (projected)

2015: 234,750 (projected)

2014: 219,400

2013: 200,530

2012: 195,800

2011: 185,730

2010: 183,930

National Marine Manufacturers Association

The Charleston Boat Show comes to North Charleston on Friday through Sunday for the 36th time as dealers, manufacturers and trade groups all eye a year that is poised to lift boat sales back to prerecession levels.

If you go

What: Charleston Boat Show

When: Noon-6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Charleston Area Convention Center

Cost: $10 for adults; $4 for children 4-12; $5 for 65-plus and military with IDs; $35 VIP.

Tickets: www.TheCharleston BoatShow.com; or at door except for VIP, which must be bought in advance.

Powerboat sales estimates for 2016 are expected to rise on par with last year’s estimated 7 percent jump in sales, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which represents 1,300 companies that produce 80 percent of the marine products used in North America.

“A steadily improving economy and flurry of product innovation have boosted new powerboat sales, which is encouraging to see as we head into the winter boat show season, one of the busiest selling periods of the year,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the Chicago-based trade group. “We anticipate 6 to 8 percent growth in 2016, which would take total new powerboat sales back to prerecession levels of 250,000 units.”

Sales of larger boats, particularly those equipped for offshore fishing, are on the rise following a sharp decline during the recession. Sales of new powerboats 40 feet and above were up 10.7 percent through September, according to the association. Final figures for 2015 won’t be available until the spring.

“The saltwater category is hot and has seen double-digit growth for three years, likely given growing popularity of the sport coupled with the trend to make what used to be exclusively fishing boats into more versatile family day boats that can also be used for hardcore fishing,” Dammrich said. “The innovations we’re seeing in this category are bringing out buyers who want the best of both worlds — an eventful day of fishing and a relaxing day cruising with friends and family.”

Smaller, entry-level boat sales were the first to recover after the recession swamped the boating industry, but sales in most segments are up and larger boats are selling again, Dammrich said.

Steve Potts, president and owner of the recently expanded Scout Boats in Summerville, echoed his remarks.

“We anticipate 2016 to be as good or maybe even a little better than last year,” said Potts, who added 107 boat builders last year with plans to add another 70 or 80 this year. “Low gas prices are one thing that’s helping, and the economy is getting stronger. We feel good about this coming year.”

It’s a much different story from eight years ago as the recession set in.

“Those are the days we don’t want to remember,” Potts said. “The recreational industries really got clobbered because it’s based mainly on disposable income. Those days were pretty dire, which is just the opposite of how people are feeling now, especially in Charleston. Charleston is pretty dynamic with all the new industry and growth in the area.”

He added the number of units sold are up, but so is revenue, mainly because people are buying more expensive boats.

“We see a lot of people who sat on the sidelines who are getting back in these last few years and they have the expendable income to buy something a little nicer and a little bigger,” Potts said. “There are more affluent people getting into the industry buying more expensive boats.”

Palmetto Boat Sales General Manager Tony Blanchard anticipates sales becoming more buoyant as well.

“We had a good year last year, and I think we will do very well this year,” he said. “I think the trend is continuing into bigger boats.”

Jacqui Bomar with JBM Associates is producing the boat show again for the 15th year, which annually draws about 10,000 people from across the Lowcountry and beyond.

“There is a lot more interest this year,” she said. “If I had 50,000 square feet of more space, I could sell it. That’s a really, really good sign. I have a waiting list. It’s the best year we’ve had in the 15 years we have been doing it.”

She also is already seeing increased interest for the Charleston In-Water Boat Show set for April 29-May 1 at Bristol Marina and Brittlebank Park in Charleston.

“I’ve heard from someone in Maine who wants to attend,” she said.

One new feature for this weekend’s boat show is a VIP ticket. It will allow the more serious-minded buyers a chance to see a lineup of new boats in a preview event from 10 a.m. to noon Friday before the show opens to the public. The $35 VIP ticket also allows entry into the boat display throughout the weekend along with other perks, including drink tickets and a breakfast buffet Friday.

“It’s a great value and we’re excited to offer this new program,” said Bomar. “Oftentimes, at the start of the show, the line is so long. This will give serious boaters the luxury of taking their time looking at the hundreds of boats and talking to the experts without dealing with the crowds.”

The show also will feature lots of fishing seminars, fishing simulator, Angler Academy, treasure hunts for children and “Hook the Future” fishing clinics for kids by Don Dingman of Jacksonville. All children who attend the clinics will receive a free rod and reel.

“With this show in particular, more than any other, there is such an adrenaline rush,” Bomar said. “Everyone in the Lowcountry interested in boating seems to come to this show. It’s the kickoff of the boating season.”

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524.