Over a Quarter of Americans Boated in 2018

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Recreational boats rafted up on the Lake of the Ozarks. One of the busiest boating areas in the Midwest, the Lake of the Ozarks has been a target in the Coast Guard's ongoing crackdown on illegal charter operations. Corps of Engineers photo.

Recreational boats rafted up on the Lake of the Ozarks. One of the busiest boating areas in the Midwest, the Lake of the Ozarks has been a target in the Coast Guard's ongoing crackdown on illegal charter operations. Corps of Engineers photo.

The U.S. Coast Guard has released the National Recreational Boating Safety Survey for 2018 — the survey was mailed to more than a quarter-million Americans to produce scientific estimates about recreational boaters.

There were 11.9 million registered boats in the United States in 2018; the number of registered boats has declined approximately 4 percent over the last 10 years, according to the survey.

Outboard-powered boats remain the most popular type of recreational boats. However, even though the overall number of registered boats declined as boats were retired or laid up, the National Marine Manufacturers Association estimates that “new” powerboat sales rose for the seventh consecutive year in 2018, up 4.4 percent to an 11-year high of 281,800 units.

Associated retail value reached $11.8 billion in 2018, up 11.1 percent compared with 2017. Recreational marine expenditures totaled $41.8 billion in 2018, up 6.8 percent from 2017.

In 2018, an estimated 84.5 million Americans boated — over 25 percent of the population — and nearly 14.5 million households, or 11.9 percent, owned boats, according to the survey.

Of the 25.4 million boats owned, 13.4 million were unregistered, including 7.3 million kayaks, 2.4 million rowed boats, and 2.2 million canoes. All boats, registered and unregistered, were operated for 3.42 billion hours (over 130 hours per boat).

The 2018 survey was funded by two grants from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund administered by the Coast Guard.

Capt. Scott Johnson, chief, U.S. Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety, said,

“The information gained in this important effort will help guide the National Recreational Boating Safety Program for years to come, and will assist the states, industry, and partner organizations develop more effective and efficient strategies to reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities in recreational boating,” said Capt. Scott Johnson, chief of the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety, in a statement.

Check out the full report here

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