Farmingdale residents Paul McQuade right checking out a boat while...

Farmingdale residents Paul McQuade right checking out a boat while his son Chase, 3, enjoys himself behind the wheel at the Long Island Boat Show, Feb. 11, in East Meadow, NY. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

This dud of a winter makes Peter Morris wish he had kept his boat afloat.

The 66-year-old Babylon resident said he plans to get back in the water on St. Patrick's Day, having stored his boat in December. "I'm sad I took my boat out of the water, but spring is around the corner."

The unusually warm winter weather -- a forecast of up to 4 inches of snowfall Saturday turned into less than an inch -- has boating enthusiasts looking forward to an early spring. And some didn't miss the opportunity Saturday to prepare for the upcoming season.

Boating fanatics filled the 55th annual Long Island Boat Show, being held through Sunday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale.

The boat show, organized by the New York Marine Trades Association, features more than 100 new boats ranging in price from $7,000 to $400,000.

"If the spring comes earlier, people get in the water earlier," said events manager Vincent Mazzone, adding an estimated 6,000 people usually attend the show over three days.

The nearly snowless winter swayed Bayside resident Marc Rotun to return to the water earlier than usual on his father's 32-foot Sea Ray boat, he said. "I would go out in this weather," said Rotun, 34, who was looking to buy his first boat.

National Weather Service meteorologist Lauren Nash said the average temperature for December was 40.5, 4.9 degrees above normal. For January, the average temperature was 36.2, 5.6 degrees above normal. The February average has been 38, about 6.5 degrees above normal.

Amie Sponza, a customer relations specialist with the Port of Egypt Marina in Southold, said some boaters begin to re-enter the water in April, but this year they hope it will be sooner.

"Some of the customers who like to stay in the water until Thanksgiving say they wish they would have kept their boats in [the water]," she said, but most insurance companies only offer coverage from March to November.

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