Is the recreational boating industry declining? Mr Jones and I took the kayak out for a spin this weekend to make a few observations of our own, and our answer is: yes... and no.
First, we paddled across the way to the Lido Yacht Expo. Attendance did seem a little sparse, judging only by the dock traffic. There were certainly boats aplenty and, no doubt, many a deal to be had, but the shoppers seemed to be elsewhere.
After completing our meandering circuit around the show, we made a slow u-turn in the water and cruised back down the harbor. We snaked around at least a dozen stand-up paddleboards, as many Duffy boats, several kayaks, an Italian-speaking gondolier, two wedding party boats, a few party-hearty boats, and even escaped a sailboat that decided to get in a little mark rounding practice just as we were passing the mark. It was a busy afternoon on the harbor - that is to say... recreational boating was booming!
My theory? Even though buyers aren't entering the market or upgrading at their usual pace, they are still finding a way to do what they love - get out on the water. That may be sailing or motoring in what they already own instead of something new, or renting, chartering, or buying in partnerships - but it seems like there are as many people as ever, out on the water and - isn't that the best way to GROW the boating market?
So, yes, it looks like the buying side of things is currently less active, but based on the participation side of things, I'd say the industry is in for growth ahead.