Archive for » May, 2017 «

Consumer claims Gulf Coast Boat Sales failed to return deposit

CLEARWATER – A Hillsborough County consumer is seeking the return of a deposit he placed on a boat.

Thomas Pepin filed a complaint on May 15 in the 6th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida – Pinellas County against Gulf Coast Boat Sales LLC alleging breach of contract.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that as of July 6, 2016, he paid defendant a total of $83,500 toward the purchase of a Beachcat boat. Upon completion, he alleges several problems were encountered during sea trial. Both parties entered discussions for the purchase of a different boat, but the suit states were unsuccessful in reaching an agreement. 

The plaintiff holds Gulf Coast Boat Sales LLC responsible because the defendant allegedly failed to deliver the Beachcat as agreed and failed to return plaintiff’s deposit.

The plaintiff seeks judgment against defendant in the sum of $83,500, plus interest, attorney’s fees and costs and all other relief as this court may deem just and proper. He is represented by Robert L. Olsen of Allen Dell PA in Tampa.

6th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida – Pinellas County case number 17-003011-CI


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After decade long recovery boating industry returns to peak

DOTHAN, Al. (WTVY) – The boating industry is seeing some of its highest sales in nearly a decade, Nationwide.

The latest National Marine Manufacturers Association’s recreational statistics indicate that unit sales of new powerboats increased 6% in 2016, that’s 247,800 boats sold. They are expected to increase an additional 6% in 2017.

But you don’t have to tell that to one local dealer who’s enjoying one of the best seasons yet!

H20 Sports and Outdoors on Reeves Street in Dothan is a one stop shop for all types of boats. New or old ski and wake board boats, off shore, pontoons, center consoles and your water sports stuff needs.

Frankie McLaney opened his boating business with his wife in 2008, he said people thought they were crazy for starting one in the first place.

“The worst time you could open a boat business, or any business, was in 2008. The economy crashed, and nobody saw what was coming. Here we are in Dothan, Alabama with no water and we open a boat dealership!” said McLaney.

Nearly 10 years later and business is booming for the H20 Sports owner. The store sells boats all over the country as far as Idaho, Pennsylvania and Michigan, they even sell in Australia. Boat sales typically are slower during winter months and start picking back up as the weather gets warmer.

Brandon Nall has worked in sales at the store since February, he said just in April alone, they sold around 30 boats.

“People are not afraid to spend more money, the banks are loaning a lot easier now, jobs are picking up. I feel like the economy is finally in the place where it needs to be to help push the boat industry,” said Nall.

“We got a boat for anybody in town, the Wiregrass, or nationwide,” added McLaney.

Sales aren’t slowing down yet, according to the NMMA, increase is expected to continue through 2018.


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Gov. Rick Scott touts Lee boat dealer Fish Tale, plan to add jobs in Naples

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott visited Fish Tale Boats in South Lee County on Tuesday, May 30, 2017.
Ryan Mills/Naples Daily News

Fish Tale Boats, a longtime Southwest Florida boat dealer and service facility, plans to expand operations into the Naples area this summer, less than a year after opening a new south Lee County headquarters.

Travis Fricke, 32, Fish Tale’s vice president of operations, said the company should be opening a Naples sales center off Davis Boulevard near Airport-Pulling Road in August or September.

“We’re just getting to the client, because Naples is an important market,” Fricke said.

Gov. Rick Scott stopped by Fish Tale’s new south Lee headquarters, off U.S. 41 and Briarcliff Road, on Tuesday morning to highlight the company’s growth over the past several years.

Since 2011, when Scott took office, Fish Tale has almost doubled its workforce from 21 employees to 41, Fricke said. That number should continue to grow with the new Naples sales center, Fricke said.

Scott awarded Fricke and his mother, Diane Fricke, Governor’s Business Ambassador medals.

“You have a beautiful location,” Scott said, surrounded in a service bay by Fish Tale employees, boats, Yamaha motors and a draped American flag. “I hope you don’t have 41 employees next year. I hope you’ve sold so many boats that you have 100 employees.”

During his presentation, Scott touted Florida’s improving economy, low unemployment rate and job creators like Fish Tale. But he lamented significant budget cuts made by the Legislature this month to two statewide economic development agencies, Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida.

“We have to keep fighting for jobs,” Scott said. “We’re on a roll right now, but unfortunately the politicians in Tallahassee, we just finished our session, they turned their back on two agencies that create jobs.”

When asked after the presentation about a possible veto of the budget, Scott said he is “going to look at the budget very closely.”

“We’re taking our time,” he said. “We’re going through the budget because I know it’s your money.”

Fish Tale was purchased in 1996 by Diane Fricke and her late husband, Bruce.

Before moving into its new facility just north of San Carlos Park late last year, the company had its headquarters on Fort Myers Beach. Fish Tale has customers from Venice to Marco Island, and the new location makes it easier to get to them.

“It makes sense to be centralized in order to service our customers better,” Travis Fricke said.

Fish Tale specializes in selling Grady-White, Chaparral and Robalo boats. Travis Fricke said his goal is for his family’s business to keep expanding.

“It will continue to grow,” he said. “There’s a lot of market share out there for boats. The market is growing as a whole.”

 


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Boat Sales on the Rise

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (CNBC) – Boat sales are on the rise!

There could be more people heading out on the water now that boat sales are at their highest level since the recession. (Photo Courtesy: NBC)

This might not be a surprise if you saw more crowded waterways over Memorial Day Weekend.

There could be more people heading out on the water now that boat sales are at their highest level since the recession.

And for dealers like Tom Houlaires, the pick up in demand has been keeping him busy.

“Our sales are up around 30 percent over last year,” Tom said. “You’ve got a change in office, you’ve got the stock market at an all-time high. You’ve got good job reports.”

Sales of powerboats are expected to rise this year and next. However, high-end manufacturers like Boston Whaler aren’t counting on mega yachts like these for that growth.

“Overall demand of the yacht segment is a little soft, we’ve seen it in the industry data in the last three to four quarters,” says Brunswick Boat Group President Huw Bower.

The slowdown is being attributed to a stronger dollar, which has helped European competitors. Add to this growing concern from potential buyers that Washington won’t be able to pass the tax cuts they’re expecting.

Boat manufacturers are facing another challenge – not enough workers. At Boston Whaler’s Manufacturing Plant in Florida, boats are made by hand and can take up to four months to complete.

The company says it is having trouble filling open positions because of a lack of skilled workers.

And while industry experts don’t expect sales to get back to pre-recession levels, they are optimistic middle market buyers will keep the industry afloat.

“When I look at the overall portfolio, we’re seeing strong demand in pontoons 21-25. We’re seeing strong demand for that recreational day boat 30-35 feet with more power,” Huw said.


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More flocking to boats as prices soar onshore

BREMERTON — A seagull is the closest thing Harry Knickerbocker has to a roommate. 

The bird perches regularly atop an outboard motor at the stern of Knickerbocker’s sailboat, hoping for treats. 

“She’s kind of adopted my boat,” the 71-year-old said on a recent visit to his slip at the Bremerton Marina.

Gull visits are part of a meditative daily routine for Knickerbocker, who’s lived on boats off-and-on since the early ’80s. He has no interest in moving back to dry land.

“I love living close to nature,” Knickerbocker said. “It’s just peaceful.” 

Whether seeking serenity like Knickerbocker or escaping rising costs onshore, more Puget Sound residents are lining up for the opportunity to live afloat. 

Waiting lists for liveaboard slips at public marinas in Bremerton and Port Orchard have soared over the last 18 months, manager Kathy Garcia said.

“In the last couple of years it just blossomed,” she said. “Two years ago you could have gotten liveaboard status on a walk-in basis at either marina, now there are waiting lists at both.”

On the Seattle side of the Sound, requests for liveaboard spots at Shilshole Bay Marina doubled in the past five years, according to the Port of Seattle. Nearly 130 households are in line for openings among Shilshole’s 350 liveaboard slips — home to the largest liveaboard community on the West Coast. 

Garcia said there are waiting lists at nearly every Puget Sound marina, and the calls keep coming. 

“We get calls every day,” she said. “Usually multiple calls.”

Marina managers can’t say for sure what’s driving the wave of interest, but they believe the region’s supercharged housing market is playing a role. Liveaboards can rent a slip in Kitsap County for a few hundred dollars, while the average apartment onshore runs more than $1,000. 

“I don’t think it’s the romance of living on a boat so much as the cost,” said Richard Johnson, a Port Orchard Marina liveaboard who works in yacht sales.

Johnson said he fields several inquiries a week from callers eager to buy a vessel they can live on. Many have never driven a boat, he said, and most don’t realize they can’t simply buy a boat and move onboard.

State rules generally allow marinas to offer 10 percent of their slips to liveaboard tenants. That means Bremerton Marina rents only 25 spaces to people living on boats — hence the long waiting list. 

Locating a slip to rent is one of many considerations for a prospective liveaboard, Johnson said. Boats cost money to buy and more money to maintain. Living quarters are cramped — especially for couples — and winters aboard can be long, cold and dark. 

“This. Is. Not. For. Everyone,” Johnson said, emphasizing each word. 

That said, Johnson, 66, and his wife Mary, 57, are right at home on their 36-foot yacht.

The Johnsons sold their house, put their extra stuff in storage and moved aboard four years ago. Since then, they’ve learned to love their scaled-down lifestyle. They like taking their home with them as they cruise Puget Sound and relish the communal feel of the Port Orchard Marina. 

“We are a little community here,” Mary said. “Everybody watches out for everybody.”

Cost is a factor, too. The Johnsons pay less than $600 a month to live in Port Orchard marina — a rent that fits their budget. They aren’t sure what kind of a home they could afford on land.

“If we were to move into an apartment, we’d be moving backward in life,” Johnson said. 

Across the inlet, Knickerbocker is equally committed to his floating existence. The retired economics adjunct and Vietnam veteran has lived in marinas on both coasts and sailed solo on open-ocean cruises. 

These days he spends most his time writing and appreciating life in his watery backyard. Knickerbocker said he feels more attached to his sailboat than to any home with a foundation. 

“You don’t put a name on a house,” he noted, but a boat “becomes an extension of your personality.”


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U.S. Boating Industry Cruises into Summer with Highest Sales in …

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Memorial Day weekend signals the start of summer boating season in the
U.S., and today the National
Marine Manufacturers Association
(NMMA), representing the nation’s
recreational boat, engine and marine accessory manufacturers, reports
the $36 billion U.S. boating industry is seeing some of its highest
sales in nearly a decade. Unit sales of new powerboats increased six
percent in 2016, reaching 247,800 boats sold, and are expected to
increase an additional six percent in 2017 – a trajectory NMMA
anticipates to continue through 2018.

“Economic factors, including an improving housing market, higher
employment, strong consumer confidence, and growing disposable income,
are creating a golden age for the country’s recreational boating
industry,” notes Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA. “Summer is a busy
selling season for our industry, and we expect steady growth to continue
across most boat categories through 2017—and into 2018—to keep up with
the acceleration in demand for new boats.”

Demand continues to grow across nearly all powerboat segments. Outboard
boat sales, which represent 85 percent of new traditional powerboats
sold, and include pontoons, aluminum and fiberglass fishing boats, as
well as small fiberglass cruising boats, were up 6.1 percent in 2016 to
160,900 units.

Sales of new ski and wakeboard boats, used for popular watersports such
as wakesurfing and wakeboarding, saw a double-digit increase, up 11.5
percent to 8,700 boats. New personal watercraft sales, often considered
a gateway to boat ownership, rose 7.3 percent to 59,000 craft, and jet
boats, smaller fiberglass boats that use jet engine technology to propel
the boat, saw a sales increase of 8.7 percent to 5,000 boats.

Sales of yachts (33’ and higher) saw gains of 3.5 percent, reaching a
seven-year high of 1,715 units in 2016.

“One of the standout areas of growth in 2016 was among yachts—a category
that has been slower to rebound as high net worth individuals looked to
remain more liquid post-recession,” notes Dammrich. “Additional trends
driving economic growth for the industry include the creation of more
affordable, versatile boats manufactured to appeal to a new generation
of boaters, more intuitive marine technology making it easier to get on
the water and operate a boat, and an emphasis on shared experiences with
the introduction of more boat rental and shared boat ownership apps as
well as boat clubs that offer access to boats as part of a membership
fee.”

U.S. Recreational Boating by the Numbers (Source: NMMA’s 2016
Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract
)

  • Annual U.S. sales of boats, marine products and services totaled $36
    billion in 2016, an increase of 3.2 percent from 2015.
  • There were approximately 247,800 new power boats sold in 2016, and
    increase of six percent from 2015.
  • The recreational boating industry in the U.S. has an annual economic
    impact of more than $121.5 billion (includes direct, indirect and
    induced spending), supporting 650,000 direct and indirect American
    jobs and nearly 35,000 small businesses.
  • Leading the nation in sales of new powerboat, engine, trailer and
    accessories in 2016 were the following states:
  1. Florida: $2.5 billion, up five percent from 2015
  2. Texas: $1.4 billion, up five percent from 2015
  3. Michigan: $868 million, up nine percent from 2015
  4. Minnesota: $710 million, up nine percent from 2015
  5. North Carolina: $689 million, up eleven percent from 2015
  6. New York: $688 million, up 14 percent from 2015
  7. Wisconsin: $622 million, up nine percent from 2015
  8. California: $615 million, up 15 percent from 2015
  9. Georgia: $551 million, up eleven percent from 2015
  10. South Carolina: $544 million, up ten percent from 2015
  • It’s not just new boats Americans are buying; there were an estimated
    981,600 pre-owned boats (powerboats, personal watercraft, and
    sailboats) sold in 2016, totaling $9.2 billion in sales, an increase
    of two percent from 2015.
  • There are an estimated 12.1 million registered/documented boats in the
    U.S. in 2015.
  • Ninety-five percent of boats on the water (powerboats, personal
    watercraft, and sailboats) in the U.S. are small in size, measuring
    less than 26 feet in length—boats that can be trailered by a vehicle
    to local waterways.
  • Sailboat sales rebounded in 2016 with 6,500 sailboats sold, an
    increase in unit sales of 16.1 percent over 2015 driven by a 23.4
    percent increase in the ‘20 ft. or less’ category.
  • Boating is predominantly “middle-class” with 72 percent of boat owners
    having a household income less than $100,000.

About NMMA: The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA)
is the leading trade organization for the North American recreational
boating industry. NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of
the boats, engines, trailers, marine accessories and gear used by
millions of boaters in North America. The association serves its members
and their sales and service networks by improving the business
environment for recreational boating including providing domestic and
international sales and marketing opportunities, reducing unnecessary
government regulation, decreasing the cost of doing business, and
helping grow boating participation. As the largest producer of boat and
sport shows in the U.S., NMMA connects the recreational boating industry
with the boating consumer year-round. Learn more at www.nmma.org.


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Boat numbers slowly recovering in Florida, Brevard after economic …

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The new public access boat ramps at Port Canaveral opened July 26. It features more boat launching slips and a closer access to the ocean. By Tim Walters, Malcolm Denemark and Dave Berman Posted July 29, 2014

While Florida’s population swelled, the number of boats registered in the Sunshine State sank for seven years straight, only inching back up in the past few years as economic recovery put more wind in people’s sails.

There were 95,593 fewer registered vessels in Florida in 2016 than 10 years ago, a 9.3 percent dip. Florida’s registered vessels topped 1 million in 2007. But as the economy stalled, boats bottomed out at 896,632 in 2013, according to statistics recently released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Boating has gradually eked back over the past three years, to 931,450 vessels. 

Some local boaters say they threw in their captain’s hat because of frustration over too many go-slow zones and other regulations. Others point to the expense.But boat builders and sellers say boat sales locally and nationwide suffered the same downslide seen statewide and nationally, despite relatively low fuel costs, as the economy sputtered.

“What killed us  – everybody really – was the real estate downturn,”  said Michele Miller, executive director of the Marine Industry Association of Florida, one of the largest trade group of boating-related industries. “We are a luxury item and unless you’re a commercial fisherman, you don’t have to have a boat … When the economy is bad, they don’t spend money on new boats, or money on the boats they have.”

The economic impact of the boating industry in Florida was $18.4 billion in 2004. That number fell to $16.8 billion in 2008 and it is believed to have continued to decline as the Great Recession took hold in the ensuring years, Miller said.

More: Memorial Day Weekend brings ‘king’ tides

By the time the association undertook another exhaustive economic impact study last year, the figure was $15.3 billion for 2015, still almost 17 percent below the 2004 figure.

But nationally, the boating industry has been looking brighter. On Tuesday, the National Marine Manufacturers Association reported that the $36 billion U.S. boating industry is seeing some of its highest sales in nearly a decade, especially yachts. According to new NMMA data,  sales of new powerboats increased 6 percent in 2016, reaching 247,800 boats sold, and are expected to increase an additional six percent in 2017.

 

In Florida, sales of new powerboat, engine, trailer and accessories in 2016 were up 5 percent in Florida, to $2.5 billion, according to NMMA.

Demand continues to grow across nearly all powerboat segments, according to NMMA.

But in some areas of Florida, excess algae and regulations over the past decade have tempered the demand to go boating, captains say.

More: Showcasing those things ‘Made in Brevard’

In few places is the frustration among Florida boaters more pronounced than in Brevard County. Captains there boast 70 percent of the Indian River Lagoon within the realm of their helm. But apocalyptic algae blooms and dolphin, manatee and fish die-offs over the past seven years have curbed many-a-captain’s enthusiasm.

Brevard boaters also attribute the decline in registered boats to the advent of the manatee zones 15 years ago that they say increased the “hassle factor” of navigating local waters.

“You might go once or twice, but is that worth owning a boat to do that?” said Bob Atkins, a Merritt Island resident and president of Citizens for Florida’s Waterways, a Brevard-based boating advocacy group.

At the group’s peak — around the time the manatee zones went in — CFW included about 700 families, many joining because of anger over the new slow zones. Now it’s about 180 families, Atkins said. “People who have boats are probably taking them somewhere else,” he said. 

But registered vessels have declined statewide, too, dropping 9.3 percent to 931,450 last year, 92,445 fewer boats than when boats peaked at 1,027,043 vessels in 2007.

 

While Brevard’s population grew by 85,000 people (17 percent) since widespread manatee zones took effect 15 years ago, registered vessels dropped by about 6,000 boats, to 34,000 vessels, a 15 percent decrease.

The industry reacted accordingly. Miller notes the Space Coast chapter of the Marine Industry Association of Florida disbanded in 2008 when the economy turned. Despite a few feeble attempts, the local chapter hasn’t been re-established, she said.

“I tried to work with some groups there in 2011,” Miller said, “but nothing really happened with it.”

Registered vessels peaked at 40,573 in Brevard in 2006. Last year, there were 33,999 registered, up 268 from the previous year, but 16.2 lower than the 2006 peak.

Brevard boaters who challenged go-slow manatee zones warned in the early 2000s that people would give up boating if the zones went in. Most of the zones took effect 2002-2003,. Now, with so many slow zones, it takes too long to get anywhere, they say.

“The first hour and a half of your boat ride is slow-speed,” Atkins said of the trip Merritt Islanders must take through slow zones to reach popular water skiing spots. “That means for a ski run it takes three hours to get there and back,” he added. “People used to ski in front of their house … All you can do with that water is look at it.”

 

 

Bad algae blooms in Brevard over the past seven years took the wind out of many a sail.

“It’s definitely deteriorated since 2010,” Atkins said.

He also points to bad blue-green algae bloom last year in the St. Lucie area as another factor impacting enthusiasm for boating. “That pretty much killed boating completely when that was going on,” he said.

Contact Waymer at 321-242-3663 or jwaymer@floridatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @JWayEnviro or www.facebook.com/jim.waymer. Contact Price at 321-242-3658 or wprice@floridatoday.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Fla2dayBiz

BREVARD

2016

Recreational vessels in Brevard: 32,731

Total vessels: 33,999
Reportable accidents: 27

Fatalities: 0

Injuries: 21

Property Damage Rank:$183,530

Accident rate: 1:1,259

2007

Recreational vessels: 38,863

Total vessels: 40,407
Reportable accidents: 23

Fatalities: 1

Injuries: 9

Property Damage Rank:$164,500

Accident rate: 1:1689

FLORIDA

2016

Recreational vessels: 899,235 
Total vessels: 931,450 

Reportable accidents: 714 
Fatalities: 67 
Injuries: 421 
Property damage: $10,052,495 
Accident rate: 1:1,305

2007

Recreational vessels: 991,680 
Total vessels: 1,027,043 
Reportable accidents: 668 
Fatalities: 77 
Injuries: 377 
Property damage: $9,125,110

Take a Florida Safe Boating Course: http://myfwc.com/boating/safety-education/courses/

According to the recently released FWC statistics, Monroe County topped boating accidents last year, with 105 accidents and three fatalities, followed by Miami-Dade with  67 accidents and seven fatalities, and Palm Beach with 62 accidents and three fatalities.

Brevard ranked eighth, with 27 accidents and no fatalities. 

Top 11 reportable boating accidents in 2016 (fatalities)

1. Monroe: 105 (3)
2. Miami-Dade: 67 (7)
3. Palm Beach: 62 (3)
4. Pinellas: 44 (2)
5. Lee: 39 (6)
6. Broward: 38 (1)
7. Collier: 31 (0)
8. Brevard: 27 (0)
9. Hillsborough: 20 (3)
10. Charlotte: 18 (4)
11. Duval: 18 (0)

 

Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission


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Boat numbers slowly recovering in Florida, Brevard after economic downturn

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The new public access boat ramps at Port Canaveral opened July 26. It features more boat launching slips and a closer access to the ocean. By Tim Walters, Malcolm Denemark and Dave Berman Posted July 29, 2014

While Florida’s population swelled, the number of boats registered in the Sunshine State sank for seven years straight, only inching back up in the past few years as economic recovery put more wind in people’s sails.

There were 95,593 fewer registered vessels in Florida in 2016 than 10 years ago, a 9.3 percent dip. Florida’s registered vessels topped 1 million in 2007. But as the economy stalled, boats bottomed out at 896,632 in 2013, according to statistics recently released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Boating has gradually eked back over the past three years, to 931,450 vessels. 

Some local boaters say they threw in their captain’s hat because of frustration over too many go-slow zones and other regulations. Others point to the expense.But boat builders and sellers say boat sales locally and nationwide suffered the same downslide seen statewide and nationally, despite relatively low fuel costs, as the economy sputtered.

“What killed us  – everybody really – was the real estate downturn,”  said Michele Miller, executive director of the Marine Industry Association of Florida, one of the largest trade group of boating-related industries. “We are a luxury item and unless you’re a commercial fisherman, you don’t have to have a boat … When the economy is bad, they don’t spend money on new boats, or money on the boats they have.”

The economic impact of the boating industry in Florida was $18.4 billion in 2004. That number fell to $16.8 billion in 2008 and it is believed to have continued to decline as the Great Recession took hold in the ensuring years, Miller said.

More: Memorial Day Weekend brings ‘king’ tides

By the time the association undertook another exhaustive economic impact study last year, the figure was $15.3 billion for 2015, still almost 17 percent below the 2004 figure.

But nationally, the boating industry has been looking brighter. On Tuesday, the National Marine Manufacturers Association reported that the $36 billion U.S. boating industry is seeing some of its highest sales in nearly a decade, especially yachts. According to new NMMA data,  sales of new powerboats increased 6 percent in 2016, reaching 247,800 boats sold, and are expected to increase an additional six percent in 2017.

 

In Florida, sales of new powerboat, engine, trailer and accessories in 2016 were up 5 percent in Florida, to $2.5 billion, according to NMMA.

Demand continues to grow across nearly all powerboat segments, according to NMMA.

But in some areas of Florida, excess algae and regulations over the past decade have tempered the demand to go boating, captains say.

More: Showcasing those things ‘Made in Brevard’

In few places is the frustration among Florida boaters more pronounced than in Brevard County. Captains there boast 70 percent of the Indian River Lagoon within the realm of their helm. But apocalyptic algae blooms and dolphin, manatee and fish die-offs over the past seven years have curbed many-a-captain’s enthusiasm.

Brevard boaters also attribute the decline in registered boats to the advent of the manatee zones 15 years ago that they say increased the “hassle factor” of navigating local waters.

“You might go once or twice, but is that worth owning a boat to do that?” said Bob Atkins, a Merritt Island resident and president of Citizens for Florida’s Waterways, a Brevard-based boating advocacy group.

At the group’s peak — around the time the manatee zones went in — CFW included about 700 families, many joining because of anger over the new slow zones. Now it’s about 180 families, Atkins said. “People who have boats are probably taking them somewhere else,” he said. 

But registered vessels have declined statewide, too, dropping 9.3 percent to 931,450 last year, 92,445 fewer boats than when boats peaked at 1,027,043 vessels in 2007.

 

While Brevard’s population grew by 85,000 people (17 percent) since widespread manatee zones took effect 15 years ago, registered vessels dropped by about 6,000 boats, to 34,000 vessels, a 15 percent decrease.

The industry reacted accordingly. Miller notes the Space Coast chapter of the Marine Industry Association of Florida disbanded in 2008 when the economy turned. Despite a few feeble attempts, the local chapter hasn’t been re-established, she said.

“I tried to work with some groups there in 2011,” Miller said, “but nothing really happened with it.”

Registered vessels peaked at 40,573 in Brevard in 2006. Last year, there were 33,999 registered, up 268 from the previous year, but 16.2 lower than the 2006 peak.

Brevard boaters who challenged go-slow manatee zones warned in the early 2000s that people would give up boating if the zones went in. Most of the zones took effect 2002-2003,. Now, with so many slow zones, it takes too long to get anywhere, they say.

“The first hour and a half of your boat ride is slow-speed,” Atkins said of the trip Merritt Islanders must take through slow zones to reach popular water skiing spots. “That means for a ski run it takes three hours to get there and back,” he added. “People used to ski in front of their house … All you can do with that water is look at it.”

 

 

Bad algae blooms in Brevard over the past seven years took the wind out of many a sail.

“It’s definitely deteriorated since 2010,” Atkins said.

He also points to bad blue-green algae bloom last year in the St. Lucie area as another factor impacting enthusiasm for boating. “That pretty much killed boating completely when that was going on,” he said.

Contact Waymer at 321-242-3663 or jwaymer@floridatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @JWayEnviro or www.facebook.com/jim.waymer. Contact Price at 321-242-3658 or wprice@floridatoday.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Fla2dayBiz

BREVARD

2016

Recreational vessels in Brevard: 32,731

Total vessels: 33,999
Reportable accidents: 27

Fatalities: 0

Injuries: 21

Property Damage Rank:$183,530

Accident rate: 1:1,259

2007

Recreational vessels: 38,863

Total vessels: 40,407
Reportable accidents: 23

Fatalities: 1

Injuries: 9

Property Damage Rank:$164,500

Accident rate: 1:1689

FLORIDA

2016

Recreational vessels: 899,235 
Total vessels: 931,450 

Reportable accidents: 714 
Fatalities: 67 
Injuries: 421 
Property damage: $10,052,495 
Accident rate: 1:1,305

2007

Recreational vessels: 991,680 
Total vessels: 1,027,043 
Reportable accidents: 668 
Fatalities: 77 
Injuries: 377 
Property damage: $9,125,110

Take a Florida Safe Boating Course: http://myfwc.com/boating/safety-education/courses/

According to the recently released FWC statistics, Monroe County topped boating accidents last year, with 105 accidents and three fatalities, followed by Miami-Dade with  67 accidents and seven fatalities, and Palm Beach with 62 accidents and three fatalities.

Brevard ranked eighth, with 27 accidents and no fatalities. 

Top 11 reportable boating accidents in 2016 (fatalities)

1. Monroe: 105 (3)
2. Miami-Dade: 67 (7)
3. Palm Beach: 62 (3)
4. Pinellas: 44 (2)
5. Lee: 39 (6)
6. Broward: 38 (1)
7. Collier: 31 (0)
8. Brevard: 27 (0)
9. Hillsborough: 20 (3)
10. Charlotte: 18 (4)
11. Duval: 18 (0)

 

Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission


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US Boat Sales Continue to Rise

According to new data from the 2016 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) reports that the $36 billion U.S. boating industry is seeing some of its highest sales in nearly a decade.

Unit sales of new powerboats increased six percent in 2016, reaching 247,800 boats sold, and are expected to increase an additional six percent in 2017 – a trajectory NMMA anticipates to continue through 2018.

“Economic factors, including an improving housing market, higher employment, strong consumer confidence, and growing disposable income, are creating a golden age for the country’s recreational boating industry,” notes Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA. “Summer is a busy selling season for our industry, and we expect steady growth to continue across most boat categories through 2017—and into 2018—to keep up with the acceleration in demand for new boats.”

Demand continues to grow across nearly all powerboat segments. Outboard boat sales, which represent 85 percent of new traditional powerboats sold, and include pontoons, aluminum and fiberglass fishing boats, as well as small fiberglass cruising boats, were up 6.1 percent in 2016 to 160,900 units.

Sales of new ski and wakeboard boats, used for popular watersports such as wakesurfing and wakeboarding, saw a double-digit increase, up 11.5 percent to 8,700 boats. New personal watercraft sales, often considered a gateway to boat ownership, rose 7.3 percent to 59,000 craft, and jet boats, smaller fiberglass boats that use jet engine technology to propel the boat, saw a sales increase of 8.7 percent to 5,000 boats.

Sales of yachts (33’ and higher) saw gains of 3.5 percent, reaching a seven-year high of 1,715 units in 2016.

“One of the standout areas of growth in 2016 was among yachts—a category that has been slower to rebound as high net worth individuals looked to remain more liquid post-recession,” notes Dammrich. “Additional trends driving economic growth for the industry include the creation of more affordable, versatile boats manufactured to appeal to a new generation of boaters, more intuitive marine technology making it easier to get on the water and operate a boat, and an emphasis on shared experiences with the introduction of more boat rental and shared boat ownership apps as well as boat clubs that offer access to boats as part of a membership fee.”

U.S. Recreational Boating by the Numbers (Source: NMMA’s 2016 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract)
• Annual U.S. sales of boats, marine products and services totaled $36 billion in 2016, an increase of 3.2 percent from 2015.
• There were approximately 247,800 new power boats sold in 2016, and increase of six percent from 2015.
• The recreational boating industry in the U.S. has an annual economic impact of more than $121.5 billion (includes direct, indirect and induced spending), supporting 650,000 direct and indirect American jobs and nearly 35,000 small businesses.
• Leading the nation in sales of new powerboat, engine, trailer and accessories in 2016 were the following states:
— Florida: $2.5 billion, up five percent from 2015
— Texas: $1.4 billion, up five percent from 2015
— Michigan: $868 million, up nine percent from 2015
— Minnesota: $710 million, up nine percent from 2015
— North Carolina: $689 million, up eleven percent from 2015
— New York: $688 million, up 14 percent from 2015
— Wisconsin: $622 million, up nine percent from 2015
— California: $615 million, up 15 percent from 2015
— Georgia: $551 million, up eleven percent from 2015
— South Carolina: $544 million, up ten percent from 2015
• It’s not just new boats Americans are buying; there were an estimated 981,600 pre-owned boats (powerboats, personal watercraft, and sailboats) sold in 2016, totaling $9.2 billion in sales, an increase of two percent from 2015.
• There are an estimated 12.1 million registered/documented boats in the U.S. in 2015.
• Ninety-five percent of boats on the water (powerboats, personal watercraft, and sailboats) in the U.S. are small in size, measuring less than 26 feet in length—boats that can be trailered by a vehicle to local waterways.
• Sailboat sales rebounded in 2016 with 6,500 sailboats sold, an increase in unit sales of 16.1 percent over 2015 driven by a 23.4 percent increase in the ‘20 ft. or less’ category.
• Boating is predominantly “middle-class” with 72 percent of boat owners having a household income less than $100,000.

NMMA will continue to release its 2016 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract data by section throughout the summer. For more information, to access current Abstract sections,and pre-order the complete 2016 Abstract, visit www.NMMA.org’s new Statistics section.


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