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Old 07-02-2012, 09:21 PM   #1
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Where are the next generation of boaters?

I just answered a post asking what inspired you to get into boating?
Thinking about that question led me to recall how much fun I had as a kid on my parent's boats and how we never had a problem making friends with other kids at distant anchorages.
I don't see that today. It's a bit of an oddity to see cruising families around here these days. Aside from members at our yacht club, none of my friends own boats excluding lake boats.
What's happening where you live, are we some of the last to enjoy this lifestyle?
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:35 PM   #2
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I think your observation is very astute. The small boating club we are members of has an increasing number of boatless members as the boaters age and sell their boats. Nobody is really coming in to take their place.

Part of the issue may have to do with the economy. Entry level jobs with growth potential are hard to find these days. Education isn't doing a very good job of preparing people for the careers that do exist. An exception is the computer/communications industry, but many of the people attracted to that are not they type to be interested in "getting out there" in cruising boats.

Job and career security isn't what it used to be. With an ever-present threat of job loss hanging over one's head, taking on big expenses like crusing boats is probably off the table for many young adults.

I've been having a blog conversation with a co-worker's daughter who recently graduated from Western Washington University with degrees in English and astronomy. The topic has been robots and AI and their potential impact on our lives. The question is which is better--- having an enhanced experience of the kind that can be brought to you via video, AI, and robotics or getting out and experiencing the real thing. More and more people are opting for the screen version of the world.

So you'll need a crusing boat for the video crew but you won't need them for all the people who stay home and experience the Inside Passage or ICW or coast of Maine on their 3D monitors.

In the short term I think this is great because every person who stays home to experience the world artificially is one less person out cluttering up the world that I prefer to experience in person. In the long term, I think this trend will lead to the eventual demise of the boating/cruising world as we know it today as this form of recreation evolves away.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:50 PM   #3
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There is so much competing for attention today. The economy is certainly one factor. Another big factor is the price of new boats. With the price of some ski boats going over $100 grand. Also, the public schools in many areas are not good. That is forcing families to send their kids to expensive private schools.

It is not just boating. Many country clubs are struggling with the same problem. With no boat few people join yacht clubs. I read something just recently that some in the coming of age generation don't want a car or to even learn to drive. It is certainly not what I expected.

It is a tough world out there today. I hope it is not the new normal, but fear it is.
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:09 PM   #4
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I read something just recently that some in the coming of age generation don't want a car or to even learn to drive.
Very true. The videographer who shoots with me all over the world has three kids. The oldest graduated from the UW last year and was immediately snapped up by Google for $100k a year plus a $75k signing bonus. The middle just graduated and is working on finding a job. The youngest will be a senior in high school this fall. None of them have any interest in driving although all three of them can. The eldest son, who could afford an Aston Martin if he wanted one, uses a "use it and park it" car service when he needs a car. You pick up one of the company's cars, use it for however long you need it, and then drop it off at a drop-off spot for someone else to use. He bikes to work as does his girlfriend.

The daughter has the family's oldest car but she rarely uses it and prefers to walk or take the bus.

The youngest son can drive but has no interest in doing so. Nor does he want a car. His parents have to almost order him to drive on family outings so he'll stay in practice.

And apparently, the friends of all three of them are pretty much the same.
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:33 PM   #5
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Meh. Our little yacht club youth sailing program has been growing by leaps and bounds. My son put at least 100 hours on my parents RIB last summer while visiting. He has Cheap Used Boats for $1,000 or less bookmarked as a favorite and often asks if we can drive 1 or 2 thousand miles to go buy a cheap boat he's found.

I'm pretty sure he's cursed with future boat ownership.
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:32 AM   #6
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In the 80's and 90's all my friends were blowing money on super fast bass boats.Most used them for a summer or two and then parked them.Now, none of them have boats.None of their children care about boats.My children really have no interest in boats.As far as driving,it's a must around here.We have no public transport in my area.No buses,cabs,trains,or anything like that.It's a good drive to get any where here since the area has built up.
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Old 07-03-2012, 05:59 AM   #7
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Very true. The videographer who shoots with me all over the world has three kids.....None of them have any interest in driving although all three of them can. The eldest son, who could afford an Aston Martin if he wanted one, uses a "use it and park it" car service when he needs a car......The daughter has the family's oldest car but she rarely uses it and prefers to walk or take the bus....The youngest son can drive but has no interest in doing so. Nor does he want a car. His parents have to almost order him to drive on family outings so he'll stay in practice....And apparently, the friends of all three of them are pretty much the same.
That is weird...decidedly weird....it's all wrong...in our day we couldn't wait to get our license and get behind the wheel.
The Fonz would turn in his grave - if he was in it yet - which he isn't. Actually he admitted in a recent interview he still can't ride a motorbike. All those scenes in "Happy Days" where he rode in on one were the only times he ever sat on one apparently...so he said. Still he drove at least...
Over here we have the opposite problem. Hoons..! Teenagers with powerful cars who just love to lay down squealing rubber and drive others mad late at night - but at least that is semi-normal behaviour..?
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Old 07-03-2012, 07:48 AM   #8
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Sorry, they are too busy with their video games.
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Old 07-03-2012, 11:33 AM   #9
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4 of 7 of our children own small fish/ski boats. When they where small we owned the 19 ft run about with a 140 hp Merc and used it mostly for lake fishing, water sports and a couple time in the Puget Sound fishing. Last week was opening day of crabbing and the Everett boat ramp was over flowing, so small boat under 30 ft are still very popular. Most of our grandchildren stay on the boat during summer, and we use the dink/run about daily fish/crabbing/water/sports/running around, while the Eagle stays tied to the dock.

Many of the Puget Sound marinas have up to a 30% vacancy, as more boaters, up to 45 ft, are trailing and dry storing rather than mooring their boats. However, there seem to be less boats over 45 ft as there is also moorage available. Several of the larger marinas in the area have enlarged and/or reduced the number of smaller slips and increased the number of larger slips. However, the larger boat have not increased. Also more boats are being moored closer to the preferred boating area as it cheaper/quicker to drive to the boat. If we did not live on the Eagle I could not justify/afford to own the Eagle.

So smaller boat under 30 ft seem to be doing well, boats over 30 ft seem to be about the same.
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:05 PM   #10
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That is weird...decidedly weird....it's all wrong...in our day we couldn't wait to get our license and get behind the wheel.
I am afraid that it is true. Living in a urban area, it is easy to see the changing of society. Our young people have had the green agenda almost pounded into their malleable skulls. Many are into showing just how green they can be. It has gotten to be sort of a competition. I guess you could say that "peer pressure has beaten out pier pressure". Black or deep earth tone clothing with a back pack and bicycle are the new symbols of status. We now have new bicycle loaner racks around town.

As I drive my plug in electric vehicle, and ride my bike around town I smirk at the people driving cars with their large carbon footprint for I am greener than they.
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:34 PM   #11
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I sort of like less traffic on the waterways and bays.It can be very peaceful.We are on Corpus Christi Bay.More often than not,we are the only ones out and about.Last labor day we did not see another boat the entire day.But we always comment on the fact there are no people out.But galveston bay,that is a different story.It can get downright chaotic at times.But it would be nice to have friends that are our age with boats.
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:51 PM   #12
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But it would be nice to have friends that are our age with boats.
"A yacht club is the best accessory you can buy for your boat"

I'm in charge of our booth at the Seattle Boat Show, and this is one of the catchphrases we use when talking to prospective members. We currently have about 10 open memberhips - two other close-by clubs had 40 and 100 at the time of the recent show.

When I joined 30 years ago there was a waiting list for membership and a 10 year wait for moorage (currently it's about 3 years). And there are a number of 45' to 50' boats in the club that have been for sale for more than a year as the membership ages and more of them "swallow the anchor".

We have had some new members join with 40'+ boats, and some of them are already over 50 years old. Unfortunately, with an aging membership the programming is to suit them - that's why we have a Friday night "happy hour" in the bar, but there's no equivalent "family hour".

And this year the moorage committee tightened rules about boats in slips for summer sublets, and there are no jet skis, fun islands, or kayaks. And the people who let their kids use their dinghies have had to find something else to do. We have the best moorage on Lake Washington, and it's like a neutron bomb went off - it's completely silent. Not a situation that is very family friendly in my opinion, and I think it's going to become a real problem.
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Old 07-03-2012, 01:02 PM   #13
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Over here we have the opposite problem. Hoons..! Teenagers with powerful cars who just love to lay down squealing rubber and drive others mad late at night - but at least that is semi-normal behaviour..?
When I wrote that the kids/young adults I know have little to no interest in cars or driving, I meant people who have a good education and have or have the potential for a promising and successful career. These are the ones that will be in positions to buy expensive toys, travel, etc. as the years go on.

There are still plenty of teens and twenty-somethings who have their Rice Rockets and souped up old BMWs and so on, but from my observation they are of the "Do you want fries with that?" group. Much less potential for them to be in the position to buy expensive things like cruising boats and such as they age.
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Old 07-03-2012, 01:39 PM   #14
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My son (10) has taken ownership of our skiff and uses it every chance he can. He's also the one that will be the first to suggest overnighting on the big boat. He also has an inflatable kayak that he's often found paddling around the anchorages. My daughter (13) couldn't care less. The funny thing is it doesn't take them more than five minutes to make friends no matter where we go and they have many new facebook friends by the end of the summer. What I see as the biggest challenge of boating with the kids is that there are so many more activites that take up weekends now than when I was a kid. I'm pretty sure that my son will be a boater, my daughter could take it or leave it. I have only 3 friends my age (48) with boats, other than ski-boats. As we all know, the purchase price is the cheepest part of boating.
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Old 07-03-2012, 04:53 PM   #15
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If anyone thinks boating as a past time is going.away, I invite you to south Florida tomorrow.
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Old 07-03-2012, 04:58 PM   #16
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If you look at Yachtworld....it looks like a past time...in Florida.
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Old 07-03-2012, 05:04 PM   #17
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Much less potential for them to be in the position to buy expensive things like cruising boats and such as they age...
Or expensive homes, for that matter. Our kids (late 20s and well employed at Amazon and Amgen) have absolutely no interest in the 4000-6000 sq ft McMansions that have been the norm for the last 10 years or so.
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Old 07-03-2012, 05:05 PM   #18
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If anyone thinks boating as a past time is going.away, I invite you to south Florida tomorrow.
Tim, you are correct in that there is a huge amount of boats in FL. Many of those are for sale, and we find that few are cruising. Places that have been traditionally hard to get reservations now seem to have plenty of space. Los Olas Docks at Ft. Lauderdale and the marinas in Key West come to mind. It has been a very long time since we have not been able to find slip space on short notice. The only place I can remember is Boca Chita Key a couple of years ago. We tried to go there on the weekend. Big mistake.
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:44 PM   #19
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What's happening where you live, are we some of the last to enjoy this lifestyle?
Boydster, the trawling community is alive and well on the Gulf Coast. There are actually a lot of real shrimp trawlers but there is also a lot of boats like mine that have been restored. My son is 7 now and my hope is buy the time he is ten we will be spending a considerable amount of time in local waterways. ICW from Texas to the Keys. Thats my hope. My parents never boated, my gramps owned a trawler (smaller than mine) All my brothers spent summers fishing with him but not me. (too little)...
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:56 PM   #20
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On the other hand, just to switch hats for a moment......

While some people currently in cruising boating have been involved with boating in one form or another their whole lives (read the "What inspired you..." thread), most of the people I know or have met who are currently boaters weren't for most of their lives. While I was involved with small sailboats, runabouts, and canoes for a summer on lakes Michigan and Superior, and then was involved with sailboats, fishing boats, and even as a crew member of an experimental riverine gunboat for a couple of summer months in SE Asia in my college days, I was never interested in aquiring a boat of my own until well after moving to the PNW. I loved being around and on the water and took advantage of the opportunities that came my way over the years, but I never actively pursued boat ownership.

And even when I did become interested in aquiring a boat it was fishing that got me into it, not boating itself. First a 12' Sears aluminum skiff, then the 17' Arima. And as I've related before it was actually flying that got us into the bigger cruising boat.

The point being that it's impossible to tell if younger people today who currently express no interest in cruising or cruising boat ownership will stay that way. You never know what event might trigger a desire to take up this kind of boating. For me the seed was planted when I stood on the deck of the BC ferry Queen of Prince Rupert in 1977 when the fog burned off and I was confronted with this incrediblle environment of mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and protected salt water. That moment prompted me to move to Seattle, which in turn got me into float flying, which in turn got me into boating and ultimately the cruising boat we have now.

So the assumptions we've been making about today's younger people not being interested in boating and therefore never likely to take it up will perhaps not prove valid in the long run.

Just a different perspective...... Don't know if there's anything to it.
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