Commodore Paul Astrella said the Squantum Yacht Club recruited their first new member of the season in February, months before membership calls generally started to arrive.
At 3A Marine in Hingham, both new and used boats have already sold out for the season.
The Marshfield Yacht Club is currently processing over 80 membership applications, and the waiting list is three to four years long.
The South Shore is bracing for what locals say it will likely be the busiest boating season in years, as seasoned sailors and young families turn to the water for a fun – and COVID-safe summer -.
“The whole boat industry in 2020 and 2021 has exploded, it’s just booming,” said Ed Lofgren of 3A Marine, who repairs and sells boats. “It’s one thing people can do with COVID restrictions being what they are. “
Boating industry experts first spoke of a boom last summer, when families shunned airlines, hotels and cruises in favor of motor and sailboats that made the struggle easier. against exposure to coronaviruses. This year, the South Shore boating season started months earlier with robust boat sales, crowded service appointments and full marinas.
“People think boating is safe, marinas are full and boat sales have skyrocketed,” said Astrella of the Squantum Yacht Club. “I’ve been to the shipyards before to buy batteries and other supplies. They can’t keep things in stock, there’s a shortage of new boats. It’s going like gangsters. It’s a business in full swing. boom right now. “
The latest sales data available from the National Marine Manufacturers Association indicates that nearly 320,000 new boats were sold last year, and local retailers say this year is shaping up to be similar. 2020 sales figures were 13% higher than the previous year and boat sales continued through the winter months.
“We’re busy in service, we’re busy in parts and accessories, we’re very busy in sales,” Lofgren said. “We’ve already sold new boats for the year. Every boat we have in stock or on order has sold.”
At 3A Marine, boat sales means that up to 120 new boats have been purchased in addition to dozens of used boats.
Local boat clubs, which offer moorings, slides and a social outlet for boaters, also say membership numbers and inquiries are on the rise.
“We are a small, unassuming yacht club on Quincy Bay. We have seen some increases – we already have four new members this year – and we expect to see another increase in May or June,” Gerry Hailer, Commodore of Le Wollaston Boat Club, said. “It’s hard to put your finger on it, but you wonder if people are like ‘We can’t go to the movies, we can’t go to the ball games, we might as well put a boat in the water.’ “
At the Marshfield Yacht Club, where there are 99 boat slips, the waiting list for a slip can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years, Commodore Pat Brennan said. The club is currently reviewing over 80 membership applications, and the waiting list for membership alone can last from three to four years.
“There isn’t a huge supply of chocks, but there is a huge demand in the area. They are easier to handle than moorings and the demand is really high,” said Brennan. “There has certainly been an increase in demand as people buy boats instead of going on vacation or spending their money on something else.”
Freedom Boat Club, a national chain with branches in Hingham and Quincy, offers day rentals for those not ready to get started in boat ownership. To rent, residents must join the club and take safety courses. Membership in the region saw record growth in 2020 and this year’s sales are already surpassing last year, said Matt O’Connor, general manager of Freedom Boat Club Boston.
“We have seen more people out on the water with their families across the industry,” he said. “The timing for COVID last year made boating that real-world outing that was 100% socially distant. People can be on the water miles from the next person.”
O’Connor said the shipping industry as a whole has performed well over the past 12 months, but industry experts are unsure of what to expect with the first hit of COVID.
“There was a period last March when we all thought the bottom was going to fall under us,” he said. “But the longer-term reality is that as COVID continues, people haven’t spent a lot of money on vacations and other leisure activities.”
As COVID-19 vaccines are distributed and the world contemplates a return to normalcy, O’Connor said he doesn’t think the love of boating will be washed away by the tide.
“I think you’re going to see the numbers stay strong,” he said. “The world has started to normalize and it has already become clear that most companies will not require employees to come back full time, so if I can have my laptop and phone with me on board and make sure that my job for the day is doing myself from a boat on the water with my family, that’s what I’m going to do. “
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Contact Mary Whitfill at [email protected]