A wake-up call for the boating industry and all boaters: An ominous age gap

An ominous age gap.

This is a great article from Trade Only Today that everyone involved in boating, both on the industry and end user side, need to take to heart. Even though our population is aging as a whole, the growing age of our boating population is a troubling tend.

Builders need to keep focus on entry level boats to capture those first time buyers and get them hooked on boating. Thom Dammrich, NMMA president put it well, “…But when the kids are grown, are they going to sit around talking about all the great times they had in the minivan going to soccer? No, they’re going to talk about the times they spent on the boat.”

For all us brokers out there this is another reason why we’ve got to keep focus on the small boat market. Sure, we all want to sell big boats but if we forget the younger generation we’re not growing our base.

While industry plays a part, the larger responsibility for growing the population and fixing the generational gap goes to the boating public at large, because they are the ones that have the motive and opportunity to introduce people to boating. As boaters we want the industry that supports us to provide high quality products at reasonable prices, but if the boating population gets older and shrinks then the basic laws of economics will make this harder to achieve. So, take a friend (and their kids!) boating. It’s a sure thing they’ll have a great time and you’ll be doing the long term prosperity of the boating world a favor.


Broker with United Yacht Sales, retired Marine aviator, passionate boater, student of naval architecture, runner, triathlete and coffee geek


  • I absolutely agree. We organize in-water boat shows in Bay Area Houston, Texas and spend a lot of time trying to think of new fun things to do on the water at each show. We do this to attract non boaters to the show and, hopefully, convince them that “messing around in boats” is fun. We have an event in October with everything from a Battle of the Badges( USCG, HPD and HFD battling it out in kayaks for local bragging rights), Tri-Hull powerboat racing, Chili Cook-Off, Live Music and a Kid’s Build a Boat event etc etc. Putting these type of events together take a lot of time and effort but if we are to get new first time buyers to attend shows we need to do a little more than just stand back and wait.

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