It’s Time to go Boating!

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

June 3, 2015

It’s June, and that means it’s time to take the boat out for fishing, recreation and family fun! And, following years of sluggish sales and dismal manufacturing forecasts, the recreational boating industry announced this week it posted significant increases for 2014.

Boat Industry Cruising Again
According to numbers released last week by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the $35.4 billion U.S. recreational boating industry grew by a healthy 6.4 percent in 2014 over the previous year, indicating a continued rebound for boat makers.

Absher's ONH 2 6-3-15Florida, the perennial leader in national boat sales, sold $2.3 billion in new powerboats, motors, trailers, and accessories last year, up 22.5 percent from 2013. In the No. 2 state, Texas, boat buyers spent $1.3 billion, an increase of 11.9 percent over 2013.

Categories exhibiting growth within the powerboat segment include jet-drive boats, up 16.7 percent, to 3,500 units; ski/wakeboard boats, up 16.4 percent, to 7,100 units; and outboard boats, up 7.4 percent, to 144,800 units.

The popular outboard boat segment, which includes pontoons, aluminum and fiberglass fishing boats, and small fiberglass cruising boats, comprised about 84.4 percent of the overall powerboat market. Outboard boats were the most popular type of new powerboat sold in 2014.

The NMMA anticipates that sales of new powerboats will continue to grow through 2015, with an increase in unit sales of as much as 5- to 7 percent.

Boating: by The Numbers
– U.S. expenditures on boats, engines, accessories, and related costs totaled $35.4 billion in 2014.

– The recreational boating industry in the United States has an annual economic impact of more than $121.5 billion (includes direct, indirect and induced spending), supporting 650,015 direct and indirect American jobs and nearly 35,000 businesses.

– Annual retail sales of new boats, engines and marine accessories in the United States totaled $16.4 billion in 2014.

– Americans are taking to the water: 35.7 percent of the U.S. adult population — 87.3 million Americans — participated in recreational boating at least once in 2014.

– Boats are uniquely made in America: 94.9 percent of powerboats sold in the United States are made in this country.

– There were an estimated 12 million registered boats in the U.S. in 2014.

– 95 percent of boats on the water (powerboats, personal watercraft and sailboats) in the U.S. are less than 26 feet — boats that can be trailered by a vehicle to local waterways.

– It’s not just new boats Americans are buying; an estimated 940,500 pre-owned boats (powerboats, personal watercraft and sailboats) were sold in 2014.

– Boating is primarily a middle-class lifestyle, as 71.5 percent of American boat owners have a household income less than $100,000.

Outboard boats were the most popular type of new powerboat sold in 2014.
Outboard boats were the most popular type of new powerboat sold in 2014.

Top States For New Boat Sales
Leading the nation in sales of new powerboats, motors, trailers and accessories, the top 10 boating states in 2014 were:

– Florida: $2.3 billion, up 22.5 percent from 2013

-Texas: $1.3 billion, up 11.9 percent from 2013

– Michigan: $762.4 million, up 13.1 percent from 2013

– Minnesota: $601.5 million, up 3.9 percent from 2013

– New York: $597.8 million, up 7.3 percent from 2013

– North Carolina: $580.2 million, up 16.9 percent from 2013

– Wisconsin: $560.3 million, up 2.9 percent from 2013

– California: $546.8 million, up 20.9 percent from 2013

– Louisiana: $529.9 million, up 11 percent from 2013

– Alabama: $457.7 million, up 19.6 percent from 2013

Boating as Safe as Ever

Boating deaths in 2014 were the second lowest on record. According to the U.S. Coast Guard data, 610 people died in recreational boating accidents last year.

The lowest number of fatalities in a year was 560 in 2013. The highest was 1,754 in 1973.

The Coast Guard reports boating is safer now because of boater education programs, strict laws on boating under the influence of alcohol (the penalties are as severe as DUI) and enhanced patrols by law enforcement agencies.

Where cause of death was known, 78 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 21 percent of deaths.

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at


How about it Guide Outdoors Readers? What’s your waterccraft of choice … .a pontoon, aluminum or fiberglass fishing boats, pleasure cruiser/ski boat, kayak, canoe, or?




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