Boat sales are up, and owners say they’re getting harder to rent and repair

Person dancing on charter yacht
Yacht sales are up.

  • Boat prices are up 10% this year as demand increases.
  • Demand shot up during the pandemic as boats were viewed as a safe way to spend time outside.
  • The same shipping industry woes are to blame for shortages on other goods like lumber and furniture.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Boats are becoming more expensive and harder to find across the US, from small vessels to large yachts.

Boat prices are up, and customers are left waiting months longer than anticipated for their purchases. In Michigan, which is a hub for boaters due to the surrounding Great Lakes, one dealership is displaying signs warning would-be customers to “Buy now before they are gone,” WXYZ Detroit reported.

The state’s largest pontoon dealer has only one new pontoon for sale, and the sales manager spoke of “inventory shortages” to WXYZ. The dealership is also promoting trade-ins and “cash for boats,” similar to the run on used cars going on that has increased prices at the fastest ever rates. Boat prices have risen about 10% over the last year, the sales manager said.

For customers looking to buy new, wait times start at three to even six months, or longer for specialty or unusual orders.

Even the rich aren’t immune to shortages as yachts in particular become harder to find. “People just aren’t putting their boats up for sale,” Charles Corbbishley of RCR Yachts told Rochester First. He says buyers for new boats are on wait lists that go through 2023.

Like many shortages going on right now, a few causes converged to make boat buying difficult. Boating saw a rise in demand at the beginning of the pandemic that has continued since, The New York Times reported. In 2020, people increasingly spent their money socially distant activities that felt safe, like furniture upgrades and even new homes. Boats are similarly a way for people to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with family without interacting too closely with strangers.

Along with new demand, boaters faced all the same supply chain disruptions that shocked the rest of the global market. As Rachel Premack explained for Insider, some factories shut down in the early days of the pandemic, slowing production of nearly everything. Then came a shipping container shortage, making logistics even more complicated. Port congestion and Texas storms earlier this year only made things worse.

Getting a boat is hard, and keeping it in good shape isn’t any easier. Parts for maintenance and repairs are impacted by the same shortages as boats themselves.

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