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Boating industry boom leads to a shortage

The state of Michigan is in the top three for boat registrations in the country.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Boating is one of the few industries that actually thrived during the pandemic. But now, it’s facing a new challenge keeping up with demand.

Anything related to the boating industry from sales, to rentals, and boat club memberships saw growth during the pandemic. The docks along Harbour Towne Marina in Muskegon are jam-packed with boats new and pre-owned.

“We have seen an explosive trend in marine sales, marine brokerage, boat club membership, there are so many ways to go boating," said Drew Goss with Freedom Boat Club.

Freedom Boat Club is a country club on the water with thousands of boats in its fleet and nearly 300 locations worldwide. It had a growth of 84% in memberships during the pandemic.

“With boat owning you have the responsibility of maintaining the boat but you also have the ability to use it whenever you want to," said Drew Morris, Keenan Marina Yacht manager.

The state of Michigan is in the top three for boat registrations in the country.

“We sold quite a few boats where it actually became their office because they could take it anywhere, they wanted to because of being able to work remotely," Morris said.

Now, according to industry experts, with supply chain issues and high demand, manufacturers can’t make boats fast enough.

“A lot of people are selling their boat thinking they’re going to get another one right away and they're finding out that there is no inventory to replace it but boats are getting top dollar too," Morris said. 

The shortage shouldn’t stop you from getting out and enjoying one of Michigan's greatest resources.

“It’s just a wonderful way for the family to get out and experience family time. When you’re on a boat everyone is having fun," Goss said.

Now, if you can't afford to spend thousands of dollars on buying, a boat rental is also fast becoming a popular choice. There are several companies that offer rentals anywhere from $200-500 a day.

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