Basic Facts of Recreational Vessel Population and Recreational Boating Demographics



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Basic Facts of Recreational Vessel Population and Recreational Boating Demographics
The vast majority of recreational boats sold are small, inexpensive pleasure craft which are used infrequently, and the overwhelming majority of recreational boaters are middle-class Americans with an average household income of less than $100,000 a year. Of the recreational boat population in the U.S., 95 percent of registered mechanically-propelled boats are less than 26 feet in length.

Boater Demographic Facts & Boat Usage Facts


  • Boating is Popular. There are a total of 17 million recreational boats—13 million registered plus 4 million unregistered—currently in use in the United States. One in ten U.S. households owns a boat. In 2009, 75 million adults—or 32 percent of all adults—went boating.




  • Boaters are Middle Class. More than 3 out of 4—79 percent— current boat owners have an average household income of less than $100,000. Sixty-two percent of current boat owners earn less than $75,000 per year.




  • Most Boats are Inexpensive. The average price of a new boat in 2010 was $16,517, and the average price of a pre-owned boat was $10,323 in 2009. The average price of a new outboard boat, motor, and trailer package in 2010 was $27,710.




  • Recreational Boating is Seasonal. Boat owners spent an average of 28 days (or 14 total weekends) on the water in 2010.




  • Most Boats are Small. Ninety-five percent of registered mechanically-propelled boats are less than 26 feet in length. Of the pre-owned traditional powerboats sold in 2007, 91 percent were between 11’ and 25’ long. For boats over 30 feet long, 90 percent were bought in the “used boat” market in 2006. The share of these boats reported as being “heavily used” dropped from 45 percent in 2006 to 25 percent in 2007.


Economic Impact Facts


  • Boating is Important to the Economy. Recreational boating is a major consumer goods industry that generated $30.8 billion in sales and services in 2009 alone. In 2009, traditional powerboat sales of new and pre-owned boats totaled $20.1 billion.




  • Boater Spending is Substantial. Boat-related spending (accessories, repairs, etc.) totaled $10.8 billion in 2009. Boating trip spending in 2007 totaled $21.1 billion.




  • Boating Means Jobs. In 2007, recreational boating directly and indirectly impacted 337,758 jobs with a labor income of $10.4 billion. Nearly 19,000 boating businesses employ more than 154,000 U.S. workers.



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