Boating, it seems, is the perfect answer. In a time of COVID-19 crises and social distancing, taking to the water is an increasingly attractive proposition.
At least that seems to be the case for a lot of people buying new and used boats. Across the country, many dealers are reporting near record boat sales for the past month or so.
MarineMax in Quincy, Massachusetts, for example, says they sold 100 boats in May, a 30 percent increase from last year. In Clinton, Connecticut, John Benchimol, the owner of Harborside Marina and Yacht Sales, told WTNH that when the pandemic hit “it was a ghost town here. I mean, nothing was going on at all.” Then, last month, the phone started ringing and buyers came in. “Now it’s gangbusters,” he said.
In San Francisco, Geli Burgin told the Chronicle that things were slow through March. “Who wants to buy a boat during a pandemic?” she said. Two months later she had a sold a dozen brokerage boats and had more under contract. Tommy’s Boats in Detroit said sales were skyrocketing last month.
Small boats are selling at Midway Marine in Fulton, Mississippi, where sales are up 25 percent over last year. So are larger ones. Hinckley Yachts, for example, reports near record sales of brokerage boats so far this month. (A 2008 Hinckley Picnic Boat is pictured above.)
Boats, of course, are a way to get families and friends together. And during the COVID shutdown, people are looking for things to do. Many families have cancelled vacations and summer travel; kids’ summer camps are shut, or curtailed. And boat buying, either new or used, is attractive right now. Interest rates are at almost historic lows; fuel costs are low. Boating, even for people who’ve never owned a boat before, is now an option.
For its part, the National Marine Manufacturers Association thinks the boating forecast for the rest of the summer looks good. Boating, it says, “is an ideal outdoor activity to de-stress and unwind that has known mental health benefits, while naturally allowing you to abide by social distancing guidelines.”
But if you’re interested in buying a new or used boat for this summer, you need to act fast. Inventories are running low, and most boat manufacturers have either shut down or are working on reduced COVID-related schedules. On the other hand, the fall shows are not that far away. Read more: