The show has expanded by 25 percent this year due to the increasing popularity.
"Look where we live. You either have a surf board, a boat or something to go in the water," said Jeff Hancock, the boat show's regional manager, explaining why boating is so popular in San Diego.
Nearly 30,000 people from all over California, including Los Angeles and Orange County, as well as from Nevada, Arizona and Mexico, are expected to venture to San Diego to view the over 500 boats and yachts.
"I think people think that it's a rich man's sport," Hancock said, "and that's not exactly true. I'm a boater myself; I own two kayaks. The thing is to be on the water."
He explained that while the boat show does include many yachts and big boats, the event also showcases kayaks, inflatable boats, wakeboards and more.
"It's not only the boats but it is all the things that people use in and around boats," Hancock said.
Old favorites, such as the Discover Boating Center, which provides unbiased education and resources for people interested in becoming more familiar with boating, and the big bay kids area, featuring a giant inflatable slide, boat painting, balloon expert and water safety puppet show, will remain as even more fun and exciting activities join this year.
The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) is partnering with the National Marine Manufacturers Association, organizers of the boat show, to introduce the new feature exhibit called Take Me Fishing, which is an educational and entertaining interactive information center that promotes freshwater, saltwater and fly fishing.
"It will be real hands on and demonstrative and people can ask questions. It's more of an informational entertainment-type thing," Hancock said.
He explained that this portion of the event would include new product information as well as interactive kiosks that identify fish types, local activities and clubs and information on aquatic stewardship.
Take Me Fishing Centers will also include guidance and instruction from on-site fishing experts on everything from equipment and water access to tips and skills. Attendees will also have the chance to get involved in the "Anglers Legacy" program and practice casting in simulators and catch fish.
There will be two casting contests daily as well as a tank fully stocked with fish from local lakes. The exhibit will have six fishing centers where visitors can learn about licensing, products, tips and where to fish locally. There will also be seminars on both saltwater and freshwater fishing.
New to the big bay kids area is the Splash Dogs event, featuring local dogs broad-jumping from a dock into a pool.
"Dogs and kids and boats all naturally fit together," said Hancock. "They even have life jackets for dogs."
Tony Reed, president of Splash Dog LLC, had a simple explanation why dog pier diving events have become so popular.
"People like to watch their dogs jump off the dock." he said. "They live vicariously through their dog and they just enjoy being around their dog. It's great exercise, and we all hang out and it's a lot of fun."
Splash Dogs has a new event daily and participants can register the day of but are encouraged to read the rules and pre-register at the Splash Dogs Web site.
Attendees can also experience life on the seas during free boat rides, which include a mini-lesson on sailing.
"We can indulge those kinds of fantasies," Hancock said. "It's nice to see boats in their element."
Seminars are offered throughout the event, including how to cruise in Mexico, salt-water kayak fishing "” a new popular thing to do in San Diego "” how to teach kids to sail and basic sailing.
"Sailing is more arcane than other aspects of boating," Hancock said, explaining why instruction in basic sailing is important.
The event also gives experienced boaters and boating enthusiasts the opportunity to shop for the best deals this season.
San Diego Boat Show hours are Thursday and Friday, Jan. 4 and 5 from noon to 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 6 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 7 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The marina portion of the show closes at 6 p.m. every night. Entrance fees are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 12 to 16 and children under 12 are free. Active duty military, law enforcement and firefighters are invited to attend for free on Thursday and Friday.
For more information call 858-274-9924 or visit www.sandiegoboatshow.com.