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Safe at Sea: The pandemic paradox

By PAT SCHMIDT - | Dec 1, 2020

During the pandemic, life has taken several interesting turns, both on land and on the sea. For example, boaters have headed to marinas and bait shops only to discover that bait shops are running low — very low — on merchandise.

While some of this is due to the slower supply chains having been impacted by COVID-19, most is due to increased boating as people use their boats more and more to provide social distance opportunities that are fun and recreational.

Thus, marketers are referring to this as the pandemic paradox. While many businesses are struggling during the COVID outbreak, others are thriving. Nationally, personal watercraft, RV and ATV sales are thriving: up 40 percent, 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

More paradox:

– Airlines lost money; state parks have enjoyed record attendance.

– Amusement parks have been shuttered, but fishing license sales have doubled.

– In certain areas, children were not able to participate in team sports, but they have spent more time on jet skis and wake boats.

In late summer, the following headline caught my attention, “Boat registrations jumped by 44 percent in July.” The article explained that boat registrations increased in July, rising 4.1 percent year-to-date in all categories and were up 25.2 percent year-over-year. Registrations jumped 44.3 percent compared to the same time last year in the main categories. The data was reported by Statistical Surveys, which tracked data from 22 early-reporting states, equating 43 percent of the U.S. market.

The most surprising statistic? For the first time ever, Texas surpassed Florida as the top state for registrations as the top state, with 5,127 units registered in July versus 3,947 in July 2019 — a 33 percent increase.

COVID has created adjustments for everyone, and an increasing number of folks have discovered that time out on the water is a great place to sit-out COVID. (That’s no paradox at all!)

Pat Schmidt is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more about the chapter and its boating education courses, visit www.sancapboating.club or contact education@sanibelcaptivasps.org or 612-987-2125.