Recreational Boating is Booming: What Type of Boat & Motor Should You Get?

The pandemic has seen some strange changes in the way people are living their lives. More people have been working from home than ever before, and it looks as if this will continue for many.


Many other people who lost their jobs have found work online or started to work for themselves. Many more though remain unemployed. Other habits that have changed during the pandemic include more people growing their own vegetables, and cooking at home. Restaurants have been largely off-limits for a long time, so people cooked more.


There was a huge surge in the amount of time spent on the internet, and many people signed up for streaming channels and shopped online. Millions of people decided to start a new hobby during the lockdowns too.


Some unlikely hobbies could keep you occupied for hours, and people tried all sorts of ways to occupy their time. One of the biggest and most popular hobbies right now is recreational boating. 

Boating is really booming now

The US has enjoyed recreational boating of one kind or another for decades, if not longer. Recreational boating includes sail boats, motorboats, personal watercraft, and more.


Due to the nation’s numerous lakes, rivers, and easy access to the ocean for many, boating is an accessible activity for many. Canoeing or kayaking, rafting, or yachting, are all possible. It doesn’t have to be an expensive activity either. A dinghy can be a low-cost way to float on a big pond, and boats are available for rent.


However, many Americans are buying their own boats. Sales of boats in the US reached a thirteen-year high in 2020. The figures from the National Marine Manufacturers Association show that this trend is continuing in 2021, giving hope to a potential long-term rise in sales. 

Why are sales booming now, what is the sudden interest?

Boating has always been popular in the states, but after hitting a peak in 2005, sales went into decline.


From 1980 to 2005, the number of registered recreational boats went steadily up. 1980 saw 8.6 million recreational boats registered in the US. By 2005, that figure was a little shy of 13 million. 2006 saw a slight dip followed by a rise in 2007, and that was the last year that the Great Recession began.


Interest in recreational boating vessels waned, and the numbers of registered boats declined until now. The reason that things have changed? Most likely it is because of the pandemic.


Vacations were canceled in 2020 as tourism was effectively put on hold across the world. Lockdowns were put in place, and restrictions limited travel. It would appear people have begun to appreciate the time spent outdoors more than before. Bike sales have also gone through the roof, fishing license sales have increased, and passive activities have become more popular too.


Some areas have had to close down skate parks due to the large number of people coming to spectate and passively get involved. It seems that after being cooped up, all everyone wants to do is get outside. 

Who is buying these boats?

Boating is often seen as something for wealthier people to be involved in, but this doesn’t have to be the case.


It is a fact that many of the people buying boats are first-timers to the activity. According to some people in the field, over 60% of boat owners have a household income of $75,000, and sometimes less.


Searching for an outboard motor can bring up a range of options from 2.5 horsepower to over 150 hp. The price of these outboard motors will also vary widely.


Boating doesn’t have to mean buying an expensive speedboat. It could be a dinghy or a Jon boat to go fishing with. Of course, there are yachts costing millions, but there are also bowriders for $15,000 and sail boats for less.


The money that was to be spent on a family vacation overseas in 2020, could quite easily pay for a small used bowrider. 

What are the types of boats available, and how much do they cost?

The price of any type of boat can vary wildly due to its size, the manufacturer, and the dealer involved. Bayliner is one brand name that uses lower-quality materials to make their boats more affordable. This doesn’t mean that they are not good quality boats, just not top-spec as some others.


There are numerous types of boats available for anyone who wants to make a purchase, but for the sake of this article, some have been removed. Houseboats, catamarans, yachts, airboats, trawlers, etc, have been omitted. 


One of the lower-priced options. A small bowrider could be less than $15,000. Yamaha outboards would be a good option for this boat, and it is capable of cruising, fishing, and watersports. 

Cabin cruisers & cuddy cabins

A much bigger option and more expensive than the bowrider. These boats can have all of the comforts of home if you spend enough.


Cuddy cabins are much smaller than cabin cruisers but will at least have room for sleeping. Expect to pay $50,000 for a cuddy cabin, while cabin cruisers won’t go for anything less than $100,000 and usually for a lot more. 

Deck boat

These are so-called because they have a larger amount of deck space than similar-sized boats. Ideal for fishing or cruising on lakes and other calm waters. They sell for $20,000 upwards. 


Included to show just how the price of boating can move from affordable to needing a large amount of disposable income. You can only use a speedboat in certain areas, and they will cost you. Not only are you looking at $100,000 for a small speedboat, but you will pay through the nose for insurance too.


Safety is also a concern with some vessels such as speedboats. Last year saw a rise in boating accidents and fatalities according to the US Coast Guard. Many of these accidents and deaths were due to new boat owners not being trained, and not using lifejackets. 

Choosing the right motor for your boat

When choosing the right outboard motor, you need to consider the size of your boat. You could choose a boat package where you get everything you need from a dealer, but if you want to buy the motor and boat separately then you will need to consider a few things.


Make sure the motor is powerful enough for the size of the boat you have. Outboard motors are much lighter than their inboard equivalents. Therefore they don’t need as much horsepower but don’t underpower your boat or you will take a long time to plane.


Check the manufacturer’s inspection plate for the maximum recommended power you should use. If you are unsure, then discuss with a dealer. Work out your budget, ask about maintenance and servicing, and choose a reliable brand. 


Boating is certainly popular in the US right now, and the trend is being seen in other countries also. Having a boat means some work as well as fun though, and you will need to take security measures to keep your boat safe.


You must also understand how to keep yourself, your passengers, and those around you safe too. Take proper training before going out in your boat, and follow safety procedures.


If you have the funds, a boat can be affordable, and you won’t be the only one on the lake. Stick to your budget, find the right boat for you, and you will soon be enjoying one of the most popular activities right now.

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