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Marinas, boat launches gear up for start of boating season in Western New York

Crews are working to get boats out of storage and out onto the water ahead of Memorial Day.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Memorial Day is a little more than a week away, and that means the start of the busy season for Western New York marinas.

At Anchor Marine on Grand Island, crews are busy making repairs and doing routine maintenance for boat owners, cleaning and polishing vessels, and working to move more than 600 boats from land to water.

"The boys are putting in some overtime, so everybody is working hard to make sure everybody who wants their boat in for the holiday is going to get their boat," sales manager Shawn Conschafter said. "Typically sun-up to sun-down, the guys are here."

Business is also ramping up at Smith Boys Marina at Erie Basin Marina in Buffalo. 

"There are going to be a lot more people coming in [over the next week or two] because they're going to be bringing their boats in. Usually around Memorial Day is when we get our rush. Then we are basically busy, nonstop, from Memorial Day all the way until Labor Day," said Rebecca Scalzetta, officer manager for Smith Boys Buffalo Harbor at Erie Basin Marina.

There are more than 200 slip holders at Erie Basin Marina, but the launch is also open to the public and transient boaters who tie off for a night or two.

So after a long winter of hibernation along the lakefront and river, things are about to come alive again.

"It's a double threat because not only [does the upcoming weather look] gorgeous, but it's the holiday weekend. I expect us to be very busy," Scalzetta said. "We can have three to four people at the gas dock itself with people in the water circling waiting to be served. We have a lot of traffic because like you said, it is a public park."

Boat inventory is rebounding too post-pandemic. Supply chain issues left showrooms nearly empty in 2021, but dealers say the selection is much better.

"In terms of inventory, we are certainly getting back to normal status. We have boats in the showroom. We have SeaDoos in the showroom. We kind of did a hard reset over the last 16 months. Things are creeping back to some normalcy, and inventory is healthy," Conschafter said.

And personal watercraft are going out just as fast as they can get them in.

"They are back, and we have about 80 of them on hand. We have more coming in. As soon as we get them uncrated and in the showroom they're leaving for the water. So it's a hot commodity. The great news is now, unlike years past, we have them in stock," Conschafter said.

Development in recent years along Buffalo's waterfront is also drawing more people to boating.

"The destinations are huge. We have a lot of people who put their boats in the water. You've got people who are coming down on Tuesday night with a boat full of people who are headed up the canal to go to dinner and a show at the Riviera. What fun is it to hop in the car and head to North Tonawanda when you can hop in a boat and do the same thing?" Conschafter said.

"You have a lot of stuff to do on the water. You have Canalside. You have RiverWorks. You have the Erie Canal with all the restaurants, the activities, the concerts."

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