Boat Sales Up In Florida

Panama City, Fla. –

In this tough economy, many are trying to scale back on big ticket items so they can stretch their dollars further. One exception to that rule, especially here in Florida – recreational boats. Even though the economic waters are a bit choppy now, people are still setting sail.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association says sales were up 6% percent in 2011, the first increase the industry has seen since 2006. Florida accounted for $1.5 billion dollars of the sales, up 35% over 2010.

“People have been pent up, they’ve sat back, they’ve watched,” said Rick Johnson with boat dealer Gulf Marine. “It doesn’t really look like the world’s gonna come to an end so we’ve gotta get out with our families.”

Bubba Hart of Harts Marine says sales are strong on his end as well.

“Banks are freeing up a bit as far as financing…new boat sales are up, used boat sales are up, engine sales are up, service is up as well,” Hart said. “We live in a beautiful area and people are ready to get back on the water.”

People like Adam Carter, now a first time boat owner. He purchased the boat last week, posting the pictures proudly on his Facebook page.

“I have waited my whole life to buy a boat, and I’ve done a lot of research,” Carter said. “Went through 2 or three different avenues trying to find the right boat.”

His search landed him a 17 foot ‘Key West’, which cost him about $7,000. However, he says the opportunity to set sail on new adventures with his 3 year old is priceless.

“I just wanted him to have that heritage of growing up on the Gulf Coast, and being able to fish and spend time on the water, which is one of the things that’s so special about this region,” Carter said.

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