Boat sales pick up on Ft. Myers Beach


There’s a mystery on Fort Myers Beach – one that business owners are in no hurry to solve. Boat and rental sales are up according to them. Families could be p[art of the reason.

Andy, Jamie and Sam Schiefelbein and their family were excited to head out onto the Back Bay waters Friday in a rented pontoon boat.

In town for a family wedding, the family was looking forward to four hours on the water. It’s the second time the family rented a boat this week.

“We might swim. We might beach it and swim,” says Jamie Schiefelbein, anticipating her infant son Sam would need a cool break during the mid-day heat.

As the young family set out, Snook Bight Yacht Club and Marina owner Joe Yerkes notes they are part of a larger trend.

“Our rental boat business is up about 24 percent this year against last year,” says Yerkes.

He says the marina’s business is up across the board, and it’s the strongest year since it opened in 2008.

With new docks opening next month, Yerkes expects a good season ahead.

“You can let the politicians tell you what you want, but there isn’t any doubt that the economy’s on the mend and that it’s a good solid slow growth,” explains Yerkes.

At Salty Sam’s Marina, marketing manager Glee Ann Agius says their boat rentals were up 68-percent in September, which is particularly noteworthy given the month is one of the slowest for tourism in the area.

“In this economy, you just never know what to expect,” says Agius. “But this year and at the end of last season as well, our boat rentals have just soared.”

Boat dealers have also noticed a pick up in business.

Kevin Giles of Sport Boats Marine says more families are coming in to buy boats, and they are most interested in pontoon boats.

Giles can’t explain why business is expanding, but he’s pleased. “I wish I could put my finger on it, but I can’t. But it’s been good for us.”

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