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Boat sale surge sails into 2021

Updated: May. 9, 2021 at 9:19 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Boat sales surged across the country in 2020 as the pandemic drove people to spend more time outdoors, and that trend seems to have sailed straight into 2021.

“It has not slowed at all we,” said Emmet Stovall, owner of Marine Warehouse Center. “Even December, January, February, our slow months, we were still as busy as we were late summer and early fall.”

Sales of boats and marine products increased almost 10% in 2020 from the prior year, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. That jump marked a 13-year-high.

Stovall has seen a range of buyers in the market for a boat whether it be people who already own a boat or first-time buyers.

“People have come in and they, you know, getting their first boat whether it’s a small kind of a starter boat or even a large you know little bit of everything.”

Demand is so high nationwide that wait times for some boats, even here locally, are almost a year long.

“We have experienced 300-day lead times to get boats,” Stovall said. “Boats that we’re used to getting in say six, eight weeks are triple, quadruple that. Engine demand — I know that I just ordered some Yamahas that I was told I wouldn’t get until February of 2022 which is once again — we’ve never had that, not in my lifetime.”

Supply chain issues are only adding more strain on the limited supply.

“Container shortages, not being able to unload ships at the port fast enough, not being able to get pieces and parts of stuff that’s being built over seas,” Stovall said. “That translates or trickles down to stuff that’s being built in the boat factories lets say in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Just small parts that you would need to complete a boat — just shortages everywhere.”

Sea Tow is a membership boat towing and on-water service company that has seen the surge in boat sales translate to an increase in memberships and traffic on the water.

“2020 was the busiest summer that we have ever seen,” said Ryan Saporito, Senior Staff Captain at Sea Tow Wrightsville Beach.

Senior Staff Captain at Sea Tow Wrightsville Beach had to hire several new captains last summer to keep up with the increased workload.

This summer is shaping up to be even busier.

“Now this year I think everybody’s kind of gotten a feel for how enjoyable it is to be out on the water and how much of a good release it is,” said Jon Geiss, Senior Staff Captain at Sea Tow Wrightsville Beach. “Now that everybody’s got a boat I think this year is definitely going to be much more busy than last year.”

Both captains and Stovall say with more people on the water, now is the time to be more careful and more responsible for your own wake.

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