Pandemic Paddlers: Americans Take Up Boating

By: Krystal Etienne · June 07, 2023 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Popularity Spike

As an intrinsically socially-distanced activity, boating made a big splash during the pandemic. And, unlike other pandemic trends like bread baking and Tiger King, boating has yet to drop off in popularity.

Between 2018 and 2023, the recreational boating industry surged 35% from $170 billion to $230 billion. Sales of new boats have normalized since the pandemic. But even still, many Americans are finding solace by taking to the high seas.

America’s Average Boater

Boating is often associated with expensive yacht clubs that require six-figure annual memberships. So you might be thinking, “Must be nice for those millionaires that can afford to float around on their mega yachts all day.”

However, data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association, or NMMA, suggests it’s not actually the 1% that’s responsible for the boating surge. Instead, it’s been largely driven by average Americans who developed a passion for fishing, sailing, and other water sports.

In 2020 and 2021, 800,000 first-time boat buyers entered the market, mainly in states with long coastlines like Florida, California, Texas, and Michigan.

Hitting the High Seas

With 85 million Americans planning to hit the seas this summer, it’s tough to find a good deal on a new boat. To help out, many companies, such as PowerTime and Get My Boat, are exploring new subscription-based boat-sharing clubs to make it easier and more affordable for people to get out on the water.

So, as summer rolls in, it’s worth noting you don’t have to buy or maintain a boat to give America’s new favorite hobby a shot.

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