Boating business during drought

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Dry weather and low lake levels — two big things boat stores are battling right now. But the boat show at the Austin Convention Center must go on this weekend.

If you’re a boater or thinking about becoming one, the Austin Boat Show is the place to be this weekend.  More than 400 watercrafts are on display and offered at showroom pricing.  And despite low water levels boat sales people say they’re still selling them.

“Once you get that love of being on the water, nothing is going to stop you,” said VP of Sail and Ski Center Buzz Watkins.

Boat salesmen call it the “boating gene,” and they hope that gene and the selection of boats will attract big crowds to the Austin Boat Show.

“In Central Texas there are so many great lakes and its such a great family lifestyle, it brings families together,” said Watkins.

Although water levels on Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan could reach all-time low levels by this summer, boat sales are up for many dealers.

“We’re looking at our fall and even so far what we’ve sold in January, and we’re way ahead of last year and we had a full lake last year. So, people definitely still want to go boating,” said Watkins.
Grant Eriksen, who owns Eriksen Marine , said his used boat sales are up as well. He said more people overseas are buying them. And said used boat sales adjust to shifts in the economy.

“When times are tough, prices are low, so it’s really always a good time to buy,” said Eriksen.

And Eriksen says there’s still plenty of water in Lake Travis.
“Marinas are in different places, it’s a little harder to get to your boat.  There are some inconveniences but it’s still a great lake to be out in,” said Eriksen.
Jim DeGroat, general manager of Tracker Boat Center , said he explains to customers if they have a trailer — many other lakes besides Lake Travis, have easier access.
“You still have Lake Austin which is a constant level lake and several ramps that are available on it,” said DeGroat.

Boating season is just around the corner and those who sell boats are confident the lifestyle will stay afloat.

“It’s still Austin, Texas, it’s still an amazing, fun place to be and a great place to have and use a boat,” said Eriksen.

The bat show runs through 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for kids and seniors, and there are discount coupons on

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