This past spring, i was getting peppered with boat pictures and questions from friends who decided it was time to transition from landlubber to seafarer. Given the state of the COVID-19 pandemic at the time, it’s understand­able why. Everyone wanted out of the house, and boating is a sport you can do safely with your family on your time. ¶ “How about this one?” a friend asked after sending a for-sale-by-owner listing. “Or this one?” The next message read, “Maybe this?” as boat picture 19 hit my inbox. The pace was fast and furious. ¶ After weeks of intense searching for a brokerage boat, another friend decided against buying one for the season but joined a boat club to get a taste of the lifestyle. One season into the pastime, it appears the hook is set and ownership is on the horizon for 2021. Another friend pulled the trigger on a new boat. I smiled often as my social media feeds filled with friends and their families enjoying time on the water, introducin­g the sport to a new generation of boaters. ¶ These stories were replicated across the country in big numbers. Depending on the state you live in, some summer months saw

families enjoying time on the water.

10-, 20-, 30- or 40-plus percent increases in boater registrati­ons. The boating market was buzzing. As I write this, it still is. Brokerage boats are selling. New boats are selling. Personal watercraft are selling. It if gets you on the water, it’s selling. Inventory of new vessels is at nearhistor­ic lows. ¶ With the unexpected boating boon, builders have been working feverishly to replace out-of-stock boats. Many new models are expected to debut this fall, and more sales are likely to follow. ¶ Fishing tournament­s also saw massive participat­ion. The White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Maryland, had 433 teams descend upon the mid-Atlantic town in August to compete for $6.7 million in prize money. Even Michael Jordan came to fish in his Viking 80 Convertibl­e, Reportedly, this past summer saw the event’s biggest turnout in about 14 years. The same kind of enthusiasm was seen at North Carolina’s Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in June, as well as at the Gulf Coast marlin tournament­s in May and June. They all saw record payouts and increased participat­ion. ¶ Will this superenthu­siasm for boating continue into the fall? I hope it does. But even if sales cool a little with the weather, a legion of new boaters has been created. That’s something to smile about.

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