The new and used maritime market is soaring | The daily briefing

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A huge demand for new and used boats, a tight supply, is pushing the nautical industry to record levels

Big or small.

New or used.

The boat trade is booming.

“We increased our boat sales by 275% (last year),” said Eric Thomas, President and CEO of Sailboat’s, Inc., operator of Barker’s Island Marina in Superior and Knife River Marina. “The industry is lucky to have a problem, but it’s tough on customers.

Huge demand from people looking to be outdoors and a tight inventory due to manufacturing downturns in 2020 have combined to create an unprecedented boating market.

New boats are sold before they even reach the dealerships. And used boats are becoming hard to find, which has increased asking prices, Thomas said.

“I was just asking people who deal with bigger sailboats, and there aren’t a lot of ships of that caliber out there,” he said. “With our used boats, we sold everything we had. And the few ships we have are older.

Sailboats, Inc.’s 440 holds in Superior make it the largest port on Lake Superior, Thomas said.

Its two marinas primarily serve customers who own large motor or sail boats.

Lake Superior, combined with its many surrounding communities, is becoming a major attraction for out-of-state boaters. “This region is yet to be discovered. Because the weather in the south is so harsh with hot summers and hurricanes, we see a lot of ships trucked in in the spring. They love fresh water, communities and restaurants. They like to be here because of the great health care and not to be fussed. “

The same demand is experienced by river boat dealers.

“It hit the charts,” said Ryan Hernesman, part owner of RJ Sport & Cycle in Duluth and several other maritime stores in northern Minnesota. “Lund has been out of stock since December. They’re building more boats than they ever have, but (sales are) something else.

Boaters are looking statewide and beyond for certain boat models, he said. “We get people calling from a lot more areas than usual. A lot of guys have to look a lot further than they normally would.

Beyond existing boaters looking for a new boat or looking to retool with a new engine, RJ Sport & Cycle has seen more and more people get into boating, Hernesman said. “We have had a significant influx of new customers. They say 30% are new customers. So with that, we had a lot of education to do.

In addition to a shortage of boats and engines, boat accessories are hard to come by for dealers, he said. “There is even a shortage of seat foam made in Texas. “

Still, he sees a solid year ahead for boat dealers.

“I think what’s going to happen is it’s going to be another good year. I think people will go all the way and buy whatever they can. It doesn’t matter what is written on the side of the boat.

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), boat builders increased their wholesale shipments of new outboards, personal watercraft, jets and stern-drive boats by 17% in December.

“Boat builders ship around 20,000 new boats per month and are operating at 13% above normal levels to replenish anemic stocks ahead of peak sales season,” said Vicky Yu, director of business intelligence at NMMA. , in a press release. “Ongoing supply chain disruptions and labor issues, combined with an average order backlog of up to six months, will challenge manufacturers to meet new orders through 2021 in the less. ”

At the Timbuktu Marine dealership in Cook and its marina on Oak Narrows on Vermilion Lake, the boating boom has coincided with the demand for other recreational products such as all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles and boating equipment. golf.

“The whole outdoor boom with the pandemic has created demand with all recreational activities,” said Matt Clines, owner of Timbuktu Marine and Timbuktu Marina. “The stocks have been cleaned up with the demand. We have a few boats in stock, but like everyone else we are having trouble with the inventory.

Manufacturers who strive to meet demand produce more premium boats and engines than smaller boats and engines, leaving consumers with less choice, he said.

“It’s a time for the industry,” Clines said. “People don’t seem to care, but the cost is getting very high. Manufacturers make expensive products, and small outboards are hard to find. Anything less than 150 horsepower is hard to find. This affects more than any of our customers, because we miss the 25 to 40 (power engines). It’s like people who want to put a new 50 horsepower on a pontoon. Loopback motors are hard to find.

Boat activity on Lake Vermilion increased last summer as more people stayed near their homes or came to their cabins and stayed there, Clines said.

He expects more of the same this summer.

“It will be a solid year on the lake. Gasoline sales and sweatshirt sales will be good.

Still, Cline has concerns about other browsing needs.

As demand remains strong, it is not known whether manufacturers can catch up with consumers’ needs.

“We’re going to have problems getting props, trolling motors and sounders,” he said. “We even hear that there could be a problem with the batteries in July and August. We could be in exactly the same situation next year, because there is not a lot of inventory on the ground. It’s starting with gangbusters this year, but I don’t think it’s going to end strong. “

Returning to Barker’s Island, Thomas says the marina is experiencing its strongest growth in dock and storage needs since 2010. Its 20 service technicians are also busy maintaining the boats.

But the marina still has room for additional boats.

“We are more full than we have been in a long time,” said Thomas. “But we still have room. We always have a place to tie ourselves up.

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