Easier, more intuitive controls, higher horsepower and quieter, more reliable engines are among the improvements boat builders and manufacturers are incorporating into their latest models in hopes of luring more customers to the joys of boating.
No longer relegated to only recreational activities like fishing and water skiing, boats are now nimble enough to be used as transportation alternatives to the daily commute, going out for dinner or running errands. Consider this as an alternative to sitting in traffic that is slowing to a crawl leaving you landlocked within the confines of a car while gazing longingly at the surrounding waterfront. In a boat, you would be free to speed along at your own pace and even enjoy a perk like pulling into a boat slip near a favorite restaurant or retailer. David Bair of Quality Boats says “People don’t realize what you can do with a boat. You can pick up your dry cleaning, go to Publix and even stop by Starbucks. Personally I have not driven to the Florida Keys in 15 years.”
Speaking from the recent St. Petersburg Power and Sailboat Show, Bair anticipates the increased demand for boats will continue through 2018. “The boat demand will continue, if interest rates stay stable, fuel prices remain affordable and consumer-friendly designs continue to capture the public’s attention.”
The National Marine Manufacturers Association identified boating trends for 2017. They include an upswing in demand for yachts and large cruising boats with increased availability of affordable options. Smaller and more versatile vessels appeal to younger boaters who want an all-in-one boat suitable for fishing, cruising and water sports. In their most recent reporting period it was revealed just how popular boating is becoming: Annual United States sales of boats, marine products and services were anticipated to reach $37 billion in 2017.
Annual United States sales of new boats, marine engines and marine accessories were expected to approach $19.1 billion.
Leading the nation in sales of new powerboat, engine, trailer and accessories in 2015 was Florida with a total $2.6 billion.
Technological enhancements are showing up on showroom floors and at boat shows. Digital dashboards, LED lighting and easier ways to maneuver boats are among some of the newest options.
Boating Becoming More Attractive
Joysticks are replacing traditional steering mechanisms making tasks like docking or driving a boat as simple as twisting or turning the device. These are just a few of the items that are helping boating become more attractive, accessible and appealing to consumers formerly hesitant to take the controls, anyone who has drifted away from boating or avid boaters who are ready to upgrade to new, improved models. “Boating is not as scary as people may think it is. Boat owners can be a lot more confident with the help of new technology and engines that are more forgiving,” Bair said.
Quality Boats, which ranked 11th among the Top 100 Dealers in North America by Boating Industry Magazine, offers a selection of fishing boat lines, runabouts and cruising yachts from select boat suppliers that are all independently owned and operated. Among its leading lines are Grady-White, Pursuit, Regal, Tiara Yachts and Tiara Sport.
Bair reports seeing across-the-board demand for boats in all categories but the bulk of his business is coming from the middle to upper-end of the pricing spectrum. “Our average sale along the West Coast of Florida is $250,000. That is the pocket that we are really serving right now,” he said.
With the help of a strong economy, innovations that increasingly tempt consumers and an abundance of wide-open waterways that make the Tampa Bay area a boating paradise, Bair’s outlook calls for smooth sailing. “On the water, there’s no road rage,” he added.
Find out more about boating by visiting, Quality Boats www.qualityboats.com.
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