John-Michael Donahue, vice president of the NMMA, noted that many people began buying boats when the COVID-19 pandemic started.
“The recreational boating industry is seeing an uptick in first-time boat buyers, attracting a wider net of Americans looking for an outlet to spend quality time with loved ones, helping to spur the industry’s growth,” he said.
Consumers spent an estimated $595 million on new powerboats, engines, trailers and marine aftermarket accessories in 2020, according to the NMMA. That’s up 20.2% percent compared to 2019, when they spent $495 million.
A total of 278,200 Ohio licenses were issued for kayaks and canoes in 2020, according to the ODNR, and 250,468 licenses were issued for power boats.
But with all the new boaters comes a need for safety. Schlegel said his company is putting a big emphasis on water safety when a customer makes a purchase.
This week is National Safe Boating Week, and the ODNR has several tips to stay safe while boating.
According to Ohio statistics, drowning was the top reported cause of death in four out of five recreational boating deaths in 2020, and that 84% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets, according to the ODNR.
If you’re out on the water, you should be wearing a life jacket. When selecting a life jacket, check that it is U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriate for the water activity and fits properly, the ODNR said.
The ODNR also recommends taking a boating course, which can be found on its website, and not drinking while operating a boat. Five Rivers MetroParks also has information about boating safety and where people can boat in the Dayton region on its website.