Phyllis McFarland stood back while her husband climbed into a Trophy sport fishing boat and checked out every inch.
The Genoa couple already have a boat and are looking forward to dropping an anchor and fishing lines into Lake Erie. But they couldn't help looking some more.
More than 200 boats are nestled among clothing stores and jewelry shops at the 36th annual Woodville Mall Boat Show. The 10-day event lasts through Feb. 27 at the mall, Woodville and Williston roads, giving local boat enthusiasts a chance to jump aboard even when there's still snow on the ground.
"The boats bring us out," Mrs. McFarland admitted. "Every year we come, and every year we almost buy a new one."
"I think this is the year," added her husband, Sam, a self-professed avid fisherman.
The Woodville Mall Boat Show comes a month after the Cleveland show and on the heels of the Detroit show. Although smaller than its competitors, the show offers visitors a chance to browse - or buy - without having to pay an entrance fee.
That's what brings out Elmore resident Bob Herrig and his son, Chad, every year.
"This is our favorite pastime in the winter," Mr. Herrig said. "When we can't be on the water, we go look at the boats indoors."
Despite the weather, boating season is not all that far off, said Eric Christen, a watercraft officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Because many fishermen hit the water soon after the ice breaks, Mr. Christen manned a booth at the center of the mall to remind boaters to be safe.
Joined by Greg Hartland, Division 11 captain of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Mr. Christen offered brochures with boating laws and safety tips.
Mr. Christen emphasized what should be second-nature for boaters - wearing life jackets.
"Life jackets save lives," he said. "It doesn't work if you don't wear it."
Contact Erica Blake at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6076.