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  • Writer's pictureCaptain Newport

Why Boating is the Perfect Coronavirus Recreation this Summer

Over the last four months, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a growing sense of uncertainty for Americans about what life may look like in the days, months, and years ahead.

Amid ever-changing state orders, social-distancing guidelines, and the new normal, it is clear that there will be lasting impacts to the way we previously carried out our daily lives.

This new reality also applies to how we vacation, relax and blow off steam as summer enters full swing.

As springtime came to a close, fears of a "lost summer" echoed throughout the country.

Thankfully, our natural resources are wide open for the recreational activities that have long been a hallmark of the season, and this year, a growing number of people are turning to a longstanding American pastime — recreational boating.

Captain Chase Fulton takes guest fishing in the Florida Keys on his chartered sportfishing boat June 1, 2020, in Islamorada, Fla. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

First-time boat buyers are on the rise as Americans are recognizing that boating is one of the safest and most accessible atmospheres to enjoy quality time with their loved ones and improve their mental health outlook during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 100 million Americans go boating each year, and 62 percent of boaters have an annual household income of $100,000 or less.

With the retail price of a new aluminum boat package averaging $36,000, and new 3-passenger personal watercraft (PWC) averaging $12,000, there's an opportunity for boating to attract even more participants looking for responsible ways to spend time outdoors with their families. And new data indicates that Americans are doing just that.

In May, the recreational boating industry saw an unprecedented increase in PWC sales, which were up 75 percent compared to May 2019.

Outboard engine sales also saw an uptick of 7 percent in May.

To meet this demand, manufacturing activity is slowly starting to pick back up and saw impressive gains in May following two months of shutdowns.

Shipments of PWCs, outboard engines, wake sport boats, and jet boats increased by a range of 19 to 160 percent compared to April.

The recreational boating and fishing community is committed to helping more people get out on the water, especially during the social distancing era.

That’s why we teamed up this spring to launch the Get On Board campaign. This initiative aims to help more Americans experience the restorative health and wellness benefits of recreational boating and fishing.

While the accessibility of boating and its compliance with social distancing is attracting more people to the lifestyle, there is also the shared responsibility of ensuring boaters are recreating responsibly.

Discover Boating, the nation’s leading consumer boating resource, has answered this call by connecting boaters with resources on how to access boating in a way that adheres to public health guidelines—including boating education.

A boater who knows the rules of the water is more confident and ultimately creates a safer, more enjoyable boating experience for everyone.

Although many have long known about recreational boating and the unrivaled relief and relaxation it provides for families, what has been lesser known is the strong, uniquely American industry behind it — made up of small businesses, manufacturers, and mom-and-pop shops across the country.

With 95 percent of boats sold in the U.S. made in the U.S., becoming a boater is a great way to stand with the 35,000 businesses and 691,000 American workers our Made-in-America industry supports.

Over the past several months, the American people have been carefully deciding what is most important in their lives and it is really no surprise that recreational boating has made that list.

Since the founding of our great nation, boating has been a favorite American pastime.

At this critical time, we look forward to playing a restorative role in the health and wellness of our country’s citizens and welcoming more people to the lifestyle in the months and years ahead.

Frank Hugelmeyer is the president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

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