Do We Really Need Younger People?

Hey are you a younger person?

While at Lake Dora, I noticed that a huge amount of the folks there were younger people. Shockingly lots of them. It hit me like a ton of bricks that the passion already has younger people. In fact, many passions do. But they just don’t want to belong to clubs. And in the end, why are we saying we need younger people? Well, it has to do with money. That’s it. Clubs want membership money, and older people want to be able to sell their boats. Period. End of story.

Allen from Katz’s Marina gets it done

There are already a bunch of younger guys restoring boats. So that argument isn’t valid. Its money!

Hipsters at Lake Dora!

And guess what. They don’t have to pay to belong to anything, including owning a car, house or anything else. More and more the generation that is next in line for boating, have much more at there fingertips than we did when getting started. Clubs should really think hard about this.

This is just the start. And already about obsolete. Ugh

By the way, its in all ALL the clubs. NOT just boating. It’s even in religion, golf clubs, yacht clubs, you name it, anything that requires belonging. Remember how important it was to BELONG to the Chamber of commerce, and getting a fez hat and pin?

Yaba Yaba Doo

Selling your boat! Guess what, that triple you spent a bazillion bucks on, is your passion, and finding a person that shares that passion is a never ending thing. Selling a Fiberglass boat may be easier, because the emotional reasons of a purchase to that younger market…You can argue all you like. GO ahead, we need the clicks..

Young people

One thing to consider.  Gen Z or Centennials the generation born in 1996 – til now. GEEK ALERT!

Lecture on Generations ahead – Millennial’s or Gen Y 1977-1995, are caught up in disruption. They are a reaction to the Baby Boomers being everything, and the Millennial’s are disrupting everything, But Gen Z, the younger group is actually all about the way it was done.

Ramsey Brothers from Ohio are the future as well

This also may be a blend of young Millennial’s and older Gen Y’s. There is a true reaction to all things disruptive. They like old stuff big time. The look, the feel and are all about doing this in a craftsmanship way. This is a very natural thing. The eb and flow of progress and regress. So, in a way, this generation may be the actual target. For boats, I would guess 30-40 years old is the prime target. And that is who I saw in FLORIDA! The Q Tip capitol of the world.

Gen Y is here and loving it

So, how does this effect your next show. Lets say up in Michigan….. Greg insert show plug here…… Think about what they like and want. Or just be old and cool. Because in a wacky way, they think its cool…ish to be around older folks.

After all, we are cool too. Don’t be a stuffy pants. Give rides and show how affordable and fun this is.

Boating is ageless!

25 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Nailed it. Young people are out there. They are not interested in clubs, judged shows, or magazines, but they are interested in boating and cool classic boats.

    Also dead on with the money take. Current owners want someone to buy their big money triple for even bigger money are going to be disappointed. The younger potential owners didn’t have any nostalgia for those boats. They are going to want a classic boat that looks cool and is fun. There will be a lot of options and they won’t necessarily be willing to pay a premium for the boats prior generations have preferred.

  2. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    OK Matt, since you taunted me into a comment, I will plug our June Algonac show. As you know, we pride ourselves in “using” our boats. Not only will we be giving rides at the show on Saturday, we love to take along guests on our boats for the Friday lunch cruise and the Old Club brunch on Sunday. Buy a ticket for the event and let us know you need a ride. The registration info will be on our website ( by mid April. Join in and enjoy the party!
    That is my shameless plug!

  3. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    So if I am reading you right you are saying that my 1985 Formula 242LS is the future (maybe already here) of Antique and Classic boating.

    Oh how quickly times change.

    Quote from a WB article dated September 27th, 2013.
    “Yes, watching water evaporate is more fun than looking at a 1985 anything.”

  4. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Troy, I figured you would have some 1985 pinups that are more fun to look at than water evaporating.

      • Troy in ANE
        Troy in ANE says:

        Almost forgot “images may be subject to copyrights”.

        These fine ladies are far more fun to watch than water evaporating.

  5. Todd C
    Todd C says:

    Spot on and love the intel on how generations think I had not thought of it that way.

    Maybe it is also the drama or social (real people good and bad) interaction of a club that younger people do not like… I agree they feel free is better and if they get their info off of the internet it must be true (talking boat repair advice vs. club member advise).

    Is it that they want to boat, hang with other old boats from time to time but the are not retired and do not have time to give to a local club (meetings, positions and commitments that come with making it work) maybe they just want to boat?

  6. Tparsons56
    Tparsons56 says:

    Our three daughters, all in their 20’s, live near each other in Seattle. While they love Dad’s old wood boats they have neither the time or resources to have one so they went in together and bought a Fiberglas sailboat. It is a 1980’s West Wight Potter and they enjoy taking their millennial friends out on the Puget Sound.
    The spirit of our hobby is still alive in the millennials but like everything it needs to evolve with their lifestyles.

      • Tparsons56
        Tparsons56 says:

        Being millennials living in Seattle they bought an outboard that runs on propane. A huge difference from the old two strokes of the past.

  7. Dave
    Dave says:

    Many are aware of the Sunnyland Chapter Apprentice Mentoring Program for Youth……SCAMPY! The program recruits kids to build wooden boats in the SCAMPY shop, located about a mile from where the boat show was held on Lake Dora last weekend. The program had a large flea sales tent at the show where they sold a years worth of donated items including a couple boats, a few outboards and a truck!. Lots of the kids boats were on display and where some seminars were held. They raise funds all year long to keep the program “afloat”. Maybe walk on down next year and see what these folks are doing for kids!

  8. Jmeyer
    Jmeyer says:

    Here’s my take (that and a quarter won’t get you a cup of coffee). Like motorcycles, cars and other transportation hobbies boating needs to build a customer base. Gen X, Y Z whatever are not going to start with big dollar restored boats. They want something they can put the work into. With wood boats being better taken care of now that they are already restored it’s tough to find a wood boat that is useable but needs refinishing. Most are total gray pattern boats (to daunting) or restored (to expensive) 60’s-80’s plastic boats are affordable and able to clean up and use for a reasonable amount of money. Once into the hobby, as they become more successful, they will look for the completed boats (wood or fiberglass) and spend the money. Let’s have some coffee.

  9. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    I say let’s take ‘em on their terms. You’re right, all clubs everywhere are declining. Let’s just find a way to get them on the water and keep these magnificent craft alive. BTW, those two in bliss in the Gar Wood look kinda familiar.

  10. Miles kapper
    Miles kapper says:

    If classic boating interests you then you are probably going to look for something you remember as a five year old. ( I know, I know, there are exceptions!) I have a friend ten years younger than me and we both had very similar experiences as kids spending summers on lakes. He in upstate New York and myself in Wisconsin. While he likes the looks of a 1956 Wood Thompson, he loved his family’s 1966 Glastron and has mentioned that if he ever looked for a classic boat – that would be it. The boat who’s wake you were fixated on staring backwards while underway when everyone else was looking forward is probably the boat you will seek. In the last twenty years the ACBS has made strides in recognizing fiberglass, outboards etc. and they continue to reach out in various ways. Also websites like are out there for those interested exclusively in classic glass. I do think people are interested in clubs IF it has a benefit. They may not care about owning a rare triple valued at $300,00.00 but if they can find someone in a club to get advice on putting on a 5200 bottom or how to re gel coat the same boat they learned to water ski behind when they were 8 years old then they have found the value they needed.

  11. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Matt: You are right All memberships seem down. The last note I got this morning says, membership in our Rotary club is down from 200 to nearer 185…and for the first time we are looking for new members…When I first joiined it was a privelege to be invited. How times have changed !

  12. Jeff Neppl
    Jeff Neppl says:

    Good morning Matt… The thing that gets missed by not being part of a club or a group is the history and learning from people’s personal experience. That’s of coarse if the veteren members of the club are cool and willing to share and offer rides. Most young people dont care about the history or past stories, they don’t nerd out like I do. 😁 Kind of the same stuff is going on in the classic car world especially in the period correct custom world.

  13. TommyHolm
    TommyHolm says:

    WARNING: One more blog about the greatly exaggerated death of boat clubs and I will publish my treatise on how internet blogs are a derisive cult snuffing out independent thinking.
    FYI, there are easily some 15,000 dues paying members in antique and classic boat clubs in the USA. It’s a solid core with new members every day. Unfortunately, every day another member dies; if we could simply prevent death, the clubs would have many more members. But I digress from the topic of “youth”. Clubs do not seek kids as members because GrandParents (and nearly GrandParents) are our target audience. GrandParents hover over their grandkids at a historically high level. GenerationNext will remember this like Miles remembers riding in a Thompson at age five. Therein lies boat club futures.
    Clubs exist because there are individuals with energy to manage them – just like this WB exists because One has energy for it. Club publications exist because writers write and photographers photograph and both wish to share. Club events exist because Volunteers are excited about organizing, hosting and helping. Club members pay their money dues simply because they can. This is not a Cost/Benefit Analysis awaiting, it’s the way it is. Strength is simply not just absolute numbers especially when the 80/20 rule is predominate (80% of the energy comes from the 20% core). BTW, some will own TripleCockpit boats forever in the future so bashing them doesn’t get us anywhere either. So let this WB cult be itself and lets provide a positive, helpful universe for boat clubs rather than to point out that my wood boat leaks. We all have our faults no need to point them out more than once.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Triple cockpits are mentioned because they have been at the top of the mountain but the demand for them will shift with demographics. Ask the Faye and Bowen folks about how the launch market is these days. That’s where triples are heading. The big post war boats will follow in another 20 years. It’s the same with cars, planes, and collectibles in general.

  14. Jeff Neppl
    Jeff Neppl says:

    As a one year member about to renew my membership I can say that the chapter I belong to ACBS socal has been great. I have met some great people and learned a ton. They tolerate me and I ask a lot of questions. 😁

  15. Eric Z
    Eric Z says:

    Young-er people bought the Hydrodyne today…kinda mixed that it’s gone but the wife is happy-

  16. Jeff Funk
    Jeff Funk says:

    The answer to your question is ‘yes’. We do need younger folks, as do most organizations…whether it’s classic boating, classic cars, IBM, or even Apple. Those who fail to evolve with that goal in mind will only be found in history books.

  17. Briant
    Briant says:

    I can’t speak for other 30-50 year old people but….this is the first year I did not renew my ACBS membership. I saw no value in blowing $50 for four issues of the Rudder. Yes, it was nice, but not $50 bucks nice. And since getting our boat and joining in 2006, I received zippo for being a member. And I never bothered to join the Columbia Chapter as they always went boating at places my family never goes or could not go to and no other members ever went boating at the lakes and places we boat and vacation at. I only see other wood boat enthusiasts at the once a year local boat show. Overall result….no club membership. And talking of costs…I have all but given up on ever buying a bigger boat or another classic car….my 65 MG is it. $100,000 for a Jag EXE? No way. My point is that grandpas out there want insane money for their old stuff and the younger buyers are not on that page. The younger buyers will look and see grandpa selling a 68 Camaro for $120,000 with crappy brakes, marginal horsepower, a “carburetor”, no Bluetooth infotainment center etc…versus a new Porsche loaded to the gills with electronic trinkets for a hell of a lot less. A triple wood boat? Are ya nuts? I love wood boats but I can see not one good reason to even think about buying one: where would I store it…where would I even use it….too expensive to purchase…etc etc. I’d love to have a two minute conversation with a thirty five year old person who would even bother to ponder buying a $100,000 triple. They’d have to be blotto on peyote…..

  18. John
    John says:

    I can’t speak to other clubs, but there are a lot of younger people in the Lyman Boat Owners Association. Our commodore, vice-commodore and treasurer are all under 35 if I’m not mistaken. There are also a lot of rank and mile members who are young or youngish or at least younger than their boats (I’m 44, my boat is 61). I happen to believe that many younger people are beginning to recoil from the throwaway nature of our culture and that antique and timeless things are developing renewed appeal. Within the Lyman community at least, there is most definitely a future for the hobby.

  19. Eric & Melissa
    Eric & Melissa says:

    34 year old here. My first word as a little boy was “Boat”. My intrigue with wooden boats started around the age of five. When I saw my first woodie, on the river I grew up on. Then in middle school it happened, my dad one day pulled into the driveway with (what we were told was) a 1941 Chris Craft 17ft Sportsman. That is where my obsession began. I hopped on the Internet and searched the limited information of chat rooms and forums, trying to find out more information on the history of the boat. Through my searching I discovered the wide array of wooden boat brands and fell more in love with these pieces of floating art. In highschool I aquired my grandfathers 1950s Chris Craft Challenger outboard and I got sidetracked with trying to find a Chris Craft kit boat to put it on. Through out highschool the boat was used frequently, family cruises, dad and his buddys enjoying a zip up and down the river after a round of golf. He even let me take it out for date night cruises with my now wife, and even a little wake boarding. Unfortunately, tragedy fell apon our family, and at the age of 19 I was faced with the difficult decision to sell the boat to a family friend, with the promise to buy it back. That day happened in August of 2018. After 14 years of the pain of letting it go, it came back to me, along with all the memories and emotions. Ironically, My wife and I had just bought a lakefront cottage. Which alone shocked everyone. I guess at 32 your to young to have a cottage or something. We have dealt with alot of opinions and being treated as if at our age, we shouldn’t have the samethings older people have. We have found it hard to be excepted by older generations that share our same passions. It seems to always be that way. At 19, my wife(then girlfriend) and I would get the same reaction when we were out antiquing. It almost felt like they thought we were going to steal something. I guess it was easier than seeing we loved the history and quality of these things, as much as they did. We respect our older generations. We want to learn and hear your stories, it is our favorite part. Its not that we don’t want to belong to “Clubs”. It’s that we feel there is no room in the “good ol boys” club, for us. Now, I can only speak for myself, in saying all of this. My wife and I have always “beaten to our own drum”. When our peers in collage were playing video games and what not, We where out antiquing and turning our home into “grandma’s house”.
    Now, with becoming the youngest couple on our lake with the only wooden boat. The hunt for information started again, from where I had left off as a young boy. Only now I have a partener to aid in the search and a never ending hole of information, that is the Internet of today. After all these years, we finally found the hull number on the transom. It was a day of tears and joy. My dad’s boat that was said to be a 1941 and never made sense, was hopefully about to be identified. After endless imagery searches we got a hit. With the help from the Mariners Museum and a wooden boat restoration company we finally solved the mystery identity of the boat. A 1937 Chris Craft Deluxe Utility. And now just the other day my sweetheart found a “barn find”. The passion does exist in younger generations.

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