Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Man, We're Getting Old... and It's Getting Worse

(From a 2016 boating trade presentation on the state of the industry)

The conclusion of industry analysts is while new boaters come and go, the core of long-term sailors is stable. Those of us that become addicted occasionally sell a boat, but then by replacement. That's certainly my story, having owned a beach catamaran, Stiletto 27, PDQ 32, and now a Corsair F-24 Mk II.

Unfortunately, new boat owners come, but mostly go. As a result, boating is in gradual decline. Some point to New Age alternatives--the internet and other sports. Some correctly point out chartering is on the rise--boat ownership and all of the maintenance that goes with it is a good fit with the new generation.

Small boats are still a healthy industry. My daughter, for example, would love a sailing dinghy and I'll bet she'll buy one someday. But you can't see her owning a bigger boat. It wouldn't fit her needs, and the maintenance and fiddling would never hold her attention. I can see that. It feels pretty irrational at times to me.

The result is that we sailors are getting older and older. It doesn't just seem that way, it's true. I'm okay with that. By the time the sail population ages enough that my target market has evaporated, I'll have run out of things to write about.


  1. I had the very same conversation with a mate of mine just last week - all the cruiser owners in my sailing club are.. ahem... of advanced aged (and I include myself) and precious few sub 30 year old's coming through..

  2. Age 80, sailing since age 21. Retired (the first time) at age 50, then cruised and lived board for the best 14 years of our lives -exceeded our fondest dream. Then age and health challenges crept in, so we are living in our home on Bayou Chico with our five boats on our dock, trailer or backyard.Heart attack 13 months ago, then cancer 6 months ago, so no more cruising. We must sell our Cal 46 we have had for 36 years. :-(. Reality...

  3. We all leave things behind. I downsized a year ago and I'm sure I will again at some point. I wonder how downsizing figures into the stats? From what I see, most sailors keep buying bigger boats, until one day they quit. I'm sure it depends on why you sail and what you like. It needs to stay fun.

  4. Wow, I'm a little bit on the front side of that wave. Hope I don't wipe out.