Summer is near and, while many people enjoy time on the water, if you don't already own a boat, you may be anchored to land this season.

There are more than 440,000 boats registered in New York and almost 12 million registered boats in America.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association says that the U.S. increased new boat sales by an estimated 12% in 2020. Used boat prices exceeded market values as well, and are hard to find.

What You Need To Know

  • Consumer demand for new boats increased by 12% in 2020

  • There is little to no new boat inventory due to a pandemic-related shutdown of manufacturing, and a backlog from orders from 2020

  • Recreational boating adds $170.3 billion in annual impact in America and $8.4 billion in New York

The association says 95% of the boats in the world are made in the United States. With demand rising and pandemic shutdowns, the market is in the perfect storm.

Oneida Lake Marina is a full and busy place with plenty of boats all around, but not a single one to sell. Ron and Chrissy Renslo might be the busiest boat dealers and marina owners you ever meet. Business is booming, but Ron says their sales are down about 25%.

“We have sold 77 boats so far this season," says Ron.

The demand is there, but because of the shortage of new and used boats, it's near impossible for them to sell their quota. While in the boatyard, you can feel the boom, in the office, you can feel the shortage as boat buyers keep inquiring.

“If you order now it’d be five to six months before you’d get a boat at all,” says Ron. “There are three things that are driving the boating shortage. The first one is demand. The demand is higher than it has ever been and there are not enough producers to build the boats with. The second is COVID, with factories being shut down and finally getting back to work and the third is the storms that hit down south. Those storms caused a lot of havoc with a lot of factories that build components for the marine industry."

With such a competitive market, the Renslos are cautioning buyers on private used boat sales.

"We’re not getting trade-ins, even, because they’re selling them outright for really ridiculous amounts themselves,” says Chrissy. “So, I’m just warning everybody, buyer beware. They may pay really top dollar for something now and then trade it in on something in a couple of years, and they’re gonna be upside down on it.”

However, if you can find a boat, there is no denying the fun factor.

“Fishing, the sun, the sandy beaches and you can practice social distancing better than any other way that I know,” says Ron.

If you are in the market for a boat, we may have a lead for you. You can find the Renslos and other boat dealers at the Sylvan Beach Boat Show on May 22 and 23.