We are standing by, and will report on the state of Florida as the reports come in, did the Palm Gardens stay intact? But in the mean time, fellow Woody Boater Greg Woodard reached out to us to ask if we knew the state of the union of the classic boat culture. It’s always an interesting question, because there is always the impression that its down and interest is fading. But is that really the case? According to many restorers and clubs, membership is either flat or up. And readership on WoodyBoater is up about 10% from last year. Which was a flat year. Which we think was more related to Google and how traffic is measured. Not interest.
To add to that, I have heard from several folks that the average life span of a classic boater is about 15 years from the first boat to the last boat they own. Interests fade, and we are at the tail end of the generation that started the culture back in the 70’s and 80’s. This generation is just as passionate, but into different things, and the entry level is not $100K pre war triples. Those are boats that were all restored and have had there lives. The new generation is into affordable entry boats, not so much ready to go all into a full restoration, and more about a bottom job and go boating. So a state of the union?
Also, as we evolve in the culture our needs and interests change. At the start of all this, I couldn’t imagine having a utility, and now that’s all I can imagine. Is that the case with people just getting into this? Not sure, i suspect they want something that provokes a memory and past desire.
Also we are getting reports in that restorations are down. Now is that because of a loss of interest? We think not, But more a reflection of a large amount of restored boats on the market. Some of these boats are do to be half restored again though. This might be a temporary thing, Now, how the restoration was done is really an issue, which is why a good branded restoration stands the test of time. So, we will see some restoration shops possibly change or fine tune marketing strategies. But they will be busy doing bottoms and refreshes. Boutique restoration shops will always be busy because they book up years in advance.
As you can tell, we are bullish on the culture, we feel that its good, strong and the passion is there. And maybe its moved from places where once it was strong. Areas like Gull Lake are massive in the culture as an example, it’s younger and not about retirement, but boating in style. Lake Tahoe is the same thing, classic boating is more of an art form there. The Ramsey Bros and there infectious passion in Toledo.
We even saw this here in little old Reedville this year. Tons of younger folks and lots of interest in getting into it. There is a large enough cluster of folks now here that have been doing this long enough so people don’t feel alone. And feeling alone is what its all about in a negative way. You don’t want to be the only guy doing this. It’s a support thing and community that makes it fun. So whats the state of our union. We here at Woody Boater think its stronger than its been in years, the next generation is now at the helm, making changes, and best of all, having fun!
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