Season’s End: Trends for 2013
Every year, when the boating season comes to an end, we reflect on the trends we’ve seen. This season saw a continuation of the industry wide trend we’ve watched over the past two years – the increase in the number of new boaters entering the marketplace. We ask why we’re seeing this movement. Boating is a great family activity and, in the digital age where families can be disconnected and preoccupied, maybe families see boating as a way to reconnect. Or maybe, as more and more of us live in urban centres, getting out on the water is a way to escape the concrete jungle and recall a simpler time. Could be the variety of boats out there appeal to more and more – there’s something for everyone. Where boats used to go along with cottages, we now see the independent boater who doesn’t have a cottage and trailers to the lake on weekends. With the many public docks and launch ramps, these boaters aren’t tied down to one lake. Maybe this appeals to our new boaters or maybe the cost of owning a cottage excludes some who find boating to be a fun alternative. Whatever the reason, we hope this trend continues because boating is a great pastime and recreational boating contributes $5 billion to Canada’s economy each year (Boating Ontario, 2013 Economic Impact Study).
This season saw overall 30% fewer claims than last year, likely having a lot to do with the volatile weather we experienced. Rainy weekends discouraged boaters from heading out and less boaters on the water means fewer claims. Of the claims this season, 34% were on policies in place for less than one year. A large portion of these policies were for first time boaters, speaking to the province-wide increase in new boaters and to the general need to educate boaters. The change in regulations requiring all operators to have a valid Pleasurecraft Operator’s Card is a step in the right direction but there’s more that needs to be done. Organizations like the Canadian Power Squadron and the Canadian Yachting Association offer comprehensive educational courses for boaters. Local marinas and dealers are a wealth of knowledge. One of the best things boat buyers can do is request an in-boat training session before heading out. Driving a boat is not the same as driving a car;boaters should familiarize themselves with their boats. Knowing where you boat is a big part of staying safe; check the charts, talk to the locals, visit the local marina and monitor water levels. Helping new boaters have positive experiences encourages them to stay boating, driving the industry to grow.
For all of us who choose ‘life on the water’, season’s end is a sad time but here’s to next season and the fun we’ll have!