Why aren’t millennials buying boats? (the boat recession)

“So, where are all the boaters your age?” asked a 60-something-year-old, at a patio bar on Gabriola Island in British Columbia. “When I was your age, we all had boats and had great big raft-ups out on the water.”

Our group of under-40 sailors was on a weekend cruise and digging into steaming plates of fish and chips. “I’m not sure,” I answered. “Are there fewer? Maybe it’s because they can’t afford it?”

“Nah,” he said. “It’s those iPads. My grown kids have no sense of adventure, happy to sit around ‘twitting’ all day.”

My husband, Robin, and I had often discussed this question. Having become first-time boat owners only five years before, at ages 24 and 29, we were often the only identifiable 20-somethings at our silver-haired yacht club.

…According to Ellis, boat ownership has seen a steep decline in the 20- to 39-year-old age category, with approximately 41 percent fewer 20- to 39-year-olds owning boats in 2015 than in 2005. In 2005, 4 percent of American males ages 20 to 39 owned a boat; but by 2015, that number dropped to only 2 percent.

Here is the full story, via Craig Richardson.


Same with "e-sports" replacing real sports like track & field, football, and chess. Sissies.

Heck yeah. Real men spend obscene amounts of money to float on a lake a few weekends every summer while wussy Millennials cower on land.


Today we have dick pics so we don’t need yachts!!!

Hahaha, WhatsApp killed the yachting business!

Serious postscript: status displays constantly change and it’s probably more that than increased wussiness.

While somewhat gratuitous in form, these answers nailed the substance.

Human drive for adventure is motivated by discovery, expanding frontiers. And the marginal returns on expanding frontiers in the physical world seem very low. All the sights have been filmed in 4k and delivered to your Apple TV screensaver. The same goes for space -- Mars is just a cold crappy version of desert just outside Bakersfield.

In contrast the complexity, and hence the room for discovery, of the virtual world is expanding at a rate way greater than physical world has ever offered. It's easy to call it 'false' discovery, but information is information -- there are more combined synapses in human brains than diverse pieces of matter in the universe.

Incidentally I think this is the main explanation for Fermi paradox.

I think it's a money thing: as I recall, during recessions yachts are often abandoned in marinas, literally, or sometimes sunk deliberately to collect insurance.

Bonus trivia: some Russian Soviet official concluded that chess was the most cost effective way of entertaining the masses and winning international fame...Nikolai Krylenko, a devoted chess player and leading member of the Soviet legal system who later organized Joseph Stalin's show trials, began building a huge nationwide chess organization, and the Assembly was replaced by a club in the city's Palace of Labor.[6]

Thousands of horses were abandoned during the great recession - they are expensive to maintain. When my nephew was about age 14 (he is 21 now) I was taking him to his mother's home, and when passed the horse stables he was staring at them. I offered this uncle advice: don't get involved with a woman who is into interior decorating or into horses, and if she is into both interior decorating and horses, run as fast as you can.

I once dated a woman who had a fondness for decorating the interiors of horses.

I met her in Troy.

Run Away!!!!!

I have never understood the economics of horses. My daughter rode for a while in her early-teens, and her trainer and other kids' mothers would constantly tell me my daughter needed to buy a horse.

I looked around and found there were way more horses than riders, so we leased ours. Cory btw - great horse. And when my daughter moved onto high school and no longer had the time or inclination to ride, we gave up the lease.

When all is said an done, they're expensive to board, feed, and if you have to call a large animal vet to come out it's $300 just to roll out to your stable. And most owners don't even ride...

There's a well-known and funny play on BOAT (Blow Out Another Thousand). It's all about cost.

Just like private aircraft, the real costs are post-purchase. Taxes, fees, maintenance, marinas, and sometimes crews are all incredibly expensive and add up fast.

Boats are a fancy for the wealthy and the retired, and since millennials are neither, we have the boat "gap". What they should really be scared of is whether, in fact, millennials will ever "retire"? I see a lot of sunk boats...

My parents had a 12- or 14- foot boat, barely able to pull a water skier. Being the youngest, I did all the pre-excursion preparation and post-excursion cleanup. I swore I would never own a power boat. We do, however, have a canoe.

Yes. In 2009, people started to walk away from boats. The largest yard in Chicago was holding massive auctions. But the market clearing prices at that point would have devastated the market for years. They ended up cutting up many (most? that I don't know) of the boats and scrapping them. As noted below, the cost to buy the boat is not the cost of owning the boat. This is especially true when the price goes down. So, in a Matthew effect dynamic, a healthy market would mean the yard would be replacing irresponsible boat owners with, on average, even less responsible boat owners (less experienced, less capitalized, less committed). Naturally, they avoid that. The boat brokers have their own, separate interest in maintaining the floor.

Boats are titled, there should be data on how many were scrapped in the last 10 years. Maybe there are fewer boaters because there are fewer boats, among other reasons.

Defray the cost of owning the boat amongst the public at large. Uber for boats.

Boat rentals and shares are already a thing. Unfortunately even those are too expensive.

I did a 3-day catamaran with friends 2 years ago. Shared 12 ways it still came out over a grand per person just for the boat and crew. As the boats get marginally larger the costs become geometric. It is the same for aircraft too. I don't see that changing.

Yeah, but was there a smartphone App involved? That is the important question here.

Ugh. I intended to reply to Ray. The 'as noted below' referred to your comment, to which I actually replied. Ah well.

You can rent cats uncrewed, making it zip car share rather than uber share.

I'm with all the other posters who note mainly 'tastes change' and move on. . . .

Maybe they took to heart the old saw that the second happiest day of a boat owners life is the day he buys a boat; the happiest is when he sells it.

A boat is a hole in the water you pour money into.

And a pool is a hole in your backyard you pour money into.

Your wife is a hole I pour myself into.

How does this compare with boat rental activity and car ownership? Is this just part of a general trend of millenials preferring not to own assets that depreciate in value?

As someone in that rough age group, I've spent many an hour thinking over whether to buy a kayak (a scaled down boat but a boat nonetheless), and every time it comes out rental. I'd need to kayak a LOT to make it worthwhile to own in terms of cost, and I'd also have to deal with all the pain-in-the-ass stuff like cleaning, transporting and generally maintaining the thing. As long as a decent rental service is offered and my requirements for the boat aren't too high, it just doesn't make sense to buy. And don't even get me started on the fear of buying and then suddenly getting busy with other things, losing interest, and never using it...

Rent one, try it. It’s really great. Fun, and very good exercise, as well.

I like sea kayaking when the weather is docile, I rent one all the time, and once I saw a whale trailing me in Hawaii. Easy to use, no skill (if you can ride a bike), self-bailing, unlike a canoe, and comfortable (no kneeling or standing upright with those ridiculous rafts). Easier than piloting a sailboat (which I've taken lessons to do, and it's intricate to tack into the wind, not that much fun for me, since you can capsize the sailboat, but with practice I'm sure it's enjoyable).

Yeah, I put off buying a Kayak for years for the very same reasons given by Tyler above. But this past summer, I finally shelled out for the best kayak I could afford ($1,400), and am I glad.

I have had an absolute ball with my kayak all summer, and even into this cool fall. Rental kayaks are cheap and rarely comfortable for me. But my Equinox has an adjustable seat I can and do sit in for hours. It's such a pleasure to paddle - or not paddle. I spend long periods just floating in the middle of one lake or another, feeling the breeze and listening to the silence.

Even if I get tired of it after a few more summers, the cost will have been well worth the experience.

As far as a kayak goes, I would say one reason is to use them at places where rentals are not available. We owned a pair for about 7 years and while it was a pain to haul them around, we enjoyed it a great deal. For the past 3 years, we lived on a lake near Charlottesville and it was really nice to be able to roll out off our dock. Decent quality kayak hold their value quite well if you keep them in good condition. We decided to sell them in preparation for a recent move to the west coast and got about 70% of what we originally paid.

Or it is just part of a trend that tastes change over time. Why assume that 4% of people used to own boats, therefore they must do that forever?

Participation in bowling is also down drastically, even though it's a cheap sport that doesn't require any upfront investment. The reason is because people don't like bowling as much as they used to.

Are bowling and baseball inferior goods, dan1111?

Bonus trivia: TC claims there are no Giffen goods! What does he say about Veblin goods however?

Bowling was a funny choice for this example given the towering status of "Bowling Alone" and it's clear applicability to this (the boats) trend.

Maybe all the "missing sex" took place on all the missing boats; perhaps also the missing novel-reading.

Young men have more trouble using boats to get sex these days.

Because of the implication.

Cleaning and maintaining a kayak!? They're plastic and all but indestructible. Around here, the most popular kayak deal is $20 for an hour an half trip down the river. The kayaks they rent cost about $200 -- so if you like kayaking, it doesn't take a long time to make it pay. Of course, you have to do your own transporting, but you don't have to wait in a long line on a nice weekend day (or wait for the shuttle ride at the end). But the best part of owning is that you can paddle all the other uncrowded parts of the river and take it with you on weekend trips.

I wouldn't be surprised if the median times used for kayak purchases is lower than 10.

Plus you have to factor in racks or a trailer to carry them, life jackets, etc. I imagine the break even is closer to 15 trips.

It's 100% sea kayaking where I am, so cleaning requirements go up a bit. Also, the cleaning is mostly related to the gear rather than the kayak itself. Break-apart paddles will get welded shut, etc.

I also have access to great rental options - very few people on the sea, meet up with a group of relatively experience paddlers and mosey down the coastline on a Saturday. The organizer runs a trip in the opposite direction on Sunday back to the base. They're not perfect boats, but they're proper sea kayaks and the gear is included in the rental fee.

I think the same is true for other rent vs. buy debates - a lot comes down to how attractive you can make renting as a service.

Kayaks are made of plastic, fiberglass, wood, and probably other things. A nice touring kayak can easily set you back $3K. If the kayaking is done in saltwater, the boat needs to be cleaned after every put in.

$200/DNGAF is just one option among many.

But if the alternative is renting, you're going to get plastic -- liveries don't rent out high-end wood or fiberglass boats. And why would you have to wash off a rotomolded plastic kayak after every dip in the ocean? Beach resorts certainly don't seem to do it.

Some kayaks—I should say, some of the best kayaks—are made of Kevlar.

I’ve owned and used several types of kayak. All in the salt chuck. I treat my gear well and have never had to do maintenance because of the salt water. Zero. Unless you count hosing the boat down every couple of months. But don’t store them in the sun.

Yeah, the sun's the thing.

And the winner for "most disconnected American" goes to...

Yeah, as with so many of the "why don't young people do this" questions, the answer is because it's expensive and young people don't have any money.

Yeah Tyler is a moron once again. They don't have boats because of ipads? Compare the cost of owning an iPad to the cost of own a boat. Note this article mentions BC - yeah all those millennial who can easily afford housing costs in Vancouver surely have money left over for a boat.

"In 2005, 4 percent of American males ages 20 to 39 owned a boat; but by 2015, that number dropped to only 2 percent."

4 percent of 29-39 yr old men owned a boat in 2005.....4 percent of where Monaco ?

The claim is that people don't go boating because they are spending their time on electronic devices instead. It's not about the cost of iPads.

The cost of owning a kayak is much less than owning a smart phone. Cheaper to buy initially and will last decades rather than a year or two. You might argue, though, that young people are less likely to own places big enough to store stuff like kayaks.

Wrong. Millennials don't buy boats because they are a deeply irresponsible and lazy generation. I bought my first house at 23. My first boat at 26. This generation is incredibly selfish and can only think about itself. They also waste their money on iphones and avocado toasts. This is well known.

Well they're not buying houses either. Aside from the cost and asset depreciation reasons that others have mentioned, there's also the student loans that they need to pay off before they can think about acquiring major assets.

But even aside from the purely financial reasons there's this: teenagers are increasingly not bothering to get driver's licenses. So they're not going to be buying cars -- and we can deduce they're not going to be buying boats either.

Teen-agers for sure are declining to get driver's licenses in Nebraska and New Mexico and even the suburbs of Chicago and Atlanta. No doubt about it. They're skate boarding and cycling to Walmart.

I wonder how much of that is related to teens not having jobs anymore. Increasingly people seem to think that the people working at McDonalds are adults with three children they need to support, hence the $15 minimum wage. Back in my day fast food workers were teens with their first job.

I suspect that's a strong correlation. Having a car allowed me to go from part time occasional work to a full time job for the summer and part time during school when I was a teen. By the time my younger sister was a teenager, the local government had started restricting teenage working hours and conditions.

This creates a negative feedback loop. The hours available to work drop. So, it's harder to afford the car that you would need to be able to work the job. Furthermore, the managers don't want to manage employees that aren't going to be able to work many hours anyway. So they are less likely to hire a teenager in any case.

So in 2005 just a couple of years before the start of the great recession more young people bought boats. I wonder what could have happened to change that?

“It’s those iPads. My grown kids have no sense of adventure, happy to sit around ‘twitting’ all day.”

The words of someone who truly has their finger on the pulse of America.

Literally every one of these "the X recession" or "why Millennials arent't doing Y" articles that Tyler posts, the answer is "no money, no money, no money, no money, no money". If you're a millennial who didn't get into either banking or high-end consulting you have no money.

I don't think that explains a decline from 4% to 2%. It was already a select group of people who were buying boats.

Guess the upper level of millennials aren’t don’t as well as the upper level of baby boomers did
Sorry I don’t buy this bullshit - baby boomers don’t have a sense of adventure they were the most everything handed to then on a silver platter generation ever

"Sorry I don’t buy this bullshit": do tell us about the bullshit you do buy.

The BS where millennials are super poor and can't afford anything?

Inflation-adjusted individual and household income in that age bracket has remained stagnant, which is not great, but doesn't really support all of the claims about a crisis, either.

Income "stagnant" - but housing costs are through the roof (sorry!).

Housing costs did not go "through the roof" in the period being considered, 2005-2015. Median rent went up a little bit, but house prices went down, since the housing market collapse was in that period.

Millennials, because of their age, were less likely to be homeowners at the time of the 2008 collapse, and thus more likely to benefit from the price reset than be hurt by it.

Assuming you could even afford to buy at all. Big student loans remember? Also if you want a crack at high income jobs you probably need to move to a high end city

This is an empirical question and I think you're wrong. But if not, are you just saying Millennials are the stupidest generation ever? They took out giant loans to finance garbage degrees that don't pay off?

What Millian said, not just housing costs but also education. A super expensive graduate degree is now necessary to break into the top 30% let alone top 5%

It's true that many more people of that age are getting a degree. It's not clear whether they need to.

I tend to think it's the opposite: an increase in the number of people getting degrees that will not pay off economically is driving problems.

To elaborate on this: the "top 30%" for individual income is a little over $45,000.

You can make well above this as a truck driver, with just a few week training program. Careers in the trades and many other fields offer salaries above this with a few months to two years training. There are abundant opportunities to be a 30%er long before your peers get an undergraduate degree. Heck, you can go to McDonalds, work hard flipping burgers, and become a manager (average salary $48,000) within a few years.

A number of these fields also give you a decent shot of being a 5%er (currently $125,000 individual income) within your career. Plumbers, electricians, etc. can easily reach this level.

The idea that you must get an expensive degree is a myth.

I think I’m a millenial (I’m 35). I live in the Minneapolis area. I think most of my peers do fairly well financially, and none of them are I-bankers or high-end consultants. I hear all the time that millennials don’t have a chance to make any money, but it seems to me that if you’re moderately intelligent, educated, and conscientious, making middle class money (enough to own a house and a boat) is fairly easy. Even with an English degree.

35 isn’t millennial you got out before the shit really hit the fan.

35 is absolutely millenial. The end date is debatable, but the start date for millenials is definitely 1981 (some say 1980). End dates range from 1996-1999. 35 is too young to be Gen X.

If you’re moderately intelligent, educated, and conscientious, making middle class money (enough to own a house and a boat) is fairly easy

Truer words have never been spoken. It also helps to live in the suburb of a Midwest city like Minneapolis, where housing is relatively cheap and a good quality of life is available at all income levels.

“you got out before the shit really hit the fan.”

Got out of what?

They got established in the job market before the Great Recession.

There's been several studies showing that people who graduated around the time of the recession have been permanently stunted in their careers--first you can't get a job because nobody's hiring, then when the market recovers, you can't get a job because "Why is there a years-long gap in your resume?"

Etc, etc.

I graduated college in 2007 and got a job. I quit in early 2008 to pursue a career in online poker and juvenile delinquency. I didn’t get a real job until 2012. Hasn’t been an issue since. In this economy if you can do anything useful, people will pay you for it.

I think the real reason this happens is just because millennials are smarter, and buying a boat is stupid. It's extraordinarily expensive, and requires a crap-load of maintenance, just to take out some weekends (during the summer only in lots of places).

Buying a boat is a signal that you have money and are adventurous, but it's pretty useless beyond that. I honestly believe millennials are less into signaling (or maybe just less into signaling *those* things) than previous generations, and are therefore less likely to purchase a money pit that is a boat for those reasons.

SO I'll try to take what I have learned from various people here. It seems that yes it is still possible to make enough money to buy a house, boat in your 20's...even with the higher inflation rates for housing, college tuition and healthcare that today's 20 somethings have to deal with....but on the flip side you cannot be as stupid as a boomer in order to accomplish these things.

So there are fewer dumb people making big wages at the factory that are able to buy boats and houses than there were in the 70's. Everyone happy with this summary?

I agree. Boats just aren't enough fun for the money for most people. It's another of those coordination problems. If all your friends have boats it is a lot more fun than if it is just you. But this is a vicious circle if the number of people boating falls below a certain level.

I sold my boat when I was eighteen because it wasn't obvious how I was going to get much use out of it while I was an undergraduate, nor was it obvious where in the world I might be working after I'd graduated.

I've sailed only a couple of times since. I did try kayaking but the only really good fun involved was learning how to right yourself when you've capsized.

Perhaps US shores where people live are overcrowded with boats and there is a boat congestion problem? The elderly rich may be outbidding the less rich young when it comes to berths within a reasonable distance of population centers.

Or maybe the young are wary of buying property at sea level?

I assume a low percentage of person boats are ocean going (including salt water bays, etc.). But I'm in the midwest, so that's probably coloring my view. Still, if you compare the number of personal boats on small inland lakes to the Great Lakes, I would think there are way more on the small lakes.

For the same reason they aren't having sex (with another person): they are afraid. I reside in a place where kayaking and paddle boarding are popular activities. Millennials aren't interested.

My parents had a few different boats when I was growing up. Many of my friends parents did as well. We all used to go camping at lakes. Now the family camping trips involve side-by-side razors up in the mtns. None of us are rich.

There’s still a sense of adventure in my little corner of the world.

Most people I know with boats no longer use them for recreation. They tend to use them as weekend homes. Fuel became so expensive, and they are such gas guzzlers that they either remain docked, or travel to a short distance to to coves where they tie up with others to become a floating weekend party community.

What percentage of personal boats have a cabin? I would guess a very small percentage, but I don't really know.

Same with the Harley Davidson. If it costs many thousands to buy a ticket just to do something Republican Dad does, the kids probably don't want to do it. https://jalopnik.com/how-harley-davidsons-all-in-bet-on-its-past-crippled-it-1830332227

>dropped from 4% to 2%

Maybe it's because fractions have denominators.

And hey, has the amount of easily-boatable water been increasing at the same rate as the supply of millennials?

Are you saying the population of the 20-39 age group may have doubled in 10 years?

I have millennial friends who own boats. They enjoy their time on the water, but they all agree that if they had it to do over again, they wouldn't buy the boat.

He's right about the loss of a sense of adventure. But at the same time, the adventure-per-dollar ratio is quite a bit higher on a bicycle, and those are still selling quite well. I love a nice boat ride, but given the choice, I'd much rather spend the afternoon cycling up and down a mountain.

The most common use of small boats in the US is recreational fishing. For a number of reasons that fishing is in itself in decline. Drops in fish populations have led to increased regulation by state fish and game departments, despite stocking efforts. Invasive species like Asian carp and zebra mussels have also led to a more complex regulatory environment. Some municipalities have restrictions on the parking of trailered boats on private property and public streets. Additionally, there's an increasing reluctance to eviscerating and cleaning fish for consumption. People don't like slimy fingers. There's also an intense competition for the money available for recreation. Boating and fishing are two of the more expensive ways of killing an afternoon. Activities for children are much more organized than in the past. Adolescent boys once fished regularly and continued to do so as adults, passing it on to their children. Not anymore. There are few versions of Huckleberry Finn in suburban America now.

It's actually a marvel that there are so many boats left, considering how much it costs to own one. As they say, there's only two occasions when you're happy to own a boat, the day you buy it and the day you sell it.

I'm not sure that anyone has named time as a factor. Sailing is a beautiful experience, but it is slow, going places at 10 miles an hour.

I live near a yacht harbor with rich people and expensive homes, and it seems that, weekdays at least, the average number of sailboats out on the ocean is 0. On a Friday the ocean horizon might show 3, 4?

People aren't giving it their time, including people who I think should, who prefer to sit in offices and trade bonds.

On the other hand the highway is filled with Lamborghinis and Rolls-Royces. Why? You don't really need to give them any time, and you get places fast.

Yes, I was going to mention time too, and I think it may be a part of the explanation.

Is it true that people in the richest half (or richest quarter) in the USA devotes more time, and energy, to their work than one or two generation ago? I don't know. I remember Krugman saying so,
not as an economist studying data, but as a rather old man having lived through several generations presenting anecdata.

If that's true, then that means the part of the US population rich enough to own and use a boat (this is quite costly, even for a small boat, kayaks aside) has much less time for boating, which is very time-demanding.

I am not well-placed to make intergenerational comparisons in the US, but I can make comparisons between US and France, where people for sure work much less. Ii seems that many more people in my social milieu owns boats in France than in the US. And when you look at the see from anywhere on the French coast, it is rare, except in the coldest day of Winter, that you don't see quite a handful of sailboats and motorboats. The people I know in France tend to have much less
money than the ones I know in the US, though they have enough to own a boat. But they have more time, and that could be the limiting factor here.

I used to own a boat when I was a PhD student in France, a 8-meter
sailboat with which I sailed a lot on the coasts of France and Great-Britain. At that period, I had not much money but I had time... Now in the US, I have more money, but much less time and my family project to buy a new boat never materialized.

The 8-meter design is beautiful. +1M.

Thanks. It was this boat: http://www.naoned-med.fr
Ah, that makes me too nostalgic.

Owning a boat was always a dumb idea. Unless you use it every weekend, you're wasting money. And this means you can't really do anything else on the weekends.

Bringing a whole new meaning to "sunk cost"

To be fair, the guy lives on a coastal island, where there may not be all that much else to do. Though maybe the problem is that all the young people have moved away from small coastal islands to big cities.

Maybe because fashion has a random relationship with wisdom, sometimes leading you to make decisions in your enlightened self-interest and sometimes leading you away from that. In the case of the Millennials, the salutary aspect of their noses being stuck in their phones is that they aren't tempted by hobbies they can ill-afford. There's a small minority who can purchase a boat or a sports car COD, and the ownership and use of boats and sports cars should be left to that minority and any passengers they care to have with them.

Who buys a boat before a house?

Someone who values freedom above security.

And ends up with little of either. Freedom to maintain a boat. Loss of security due to money diverted to maintain boat.


Are you serious?
Most millenials can't afford homes. How are they going to afford boats?
Nevermind that there are (probably, have not researched), endless lists of inane regulations driving up the price of boats and making it illegal to sail anything that isn't up to code.

Gen Xer here who bought a sailboat last year. There really are not many folks on our dock that are younger than 50. It is just us and another family that have elementary school kids. And the docks are at probably 60% capacity.

Like others have said the boat itself is not the big expense, paying for the dock and all the maintenance and repairs is at least as much as the carrying cost on the boat.

And even taking into consideration that it we try to get down to it a lot, it probably is a terrible financial decision.

I will add that another thing the article says is spot on. Not being a handy person boat ownership is pretty daunting. Ours is 30 ft and its like a floating RV. There are hoses and valves and fuse boxes and switches and holding tanks everywhere.

America has becone decadent.

No surprise, with their tiny tiny brains.

My parents had boats throughout my teenage years when living with them (and after I moved out on my own) and though they enjoyed it, it always seemed like an annoyance to me.

(1) They cost a lot and lose a good portion of their worth very quickly unless you (a) enslave yourself into constant upkeep and repair and (b) get a boat from some of the most vaunted (and most expensive) makers where people are searching for those models years past their new date.

(2) As a teen, the entire family worked different schedules, so we spent countless hours keeping salt water from rotting the thing away and zero time enjoying it.

(3) Living on/near the ocean, there is a good modern chance your boat is going to get destroyed by a storm. Our one boat miraculously survived a winter storm in storage solely because the boatyard mistakenly didn't put it on the lower two racks and had it above the water rise line (all the lower boats floated away).

Younger people aren't likely too busy to go boating, they just see what amounts to a shitty investment and a time suck. I know plenty of young people that love having friends who have boats to go out on fishing, sailing, boozing, whatever. But it's much easier that way, like going to a neighbor's party. It's also just very expensive for what you get out of it. I can't imagine spending that kind of money on something so frivolous. I'd need another job on top of my two jobs and also a few screws loose to think that a boat would be more important than saving for my kids' college futures.

What does everyone have in mind for the median boat owner (in terms of size and/or cost)? Even if you omit kayaks and canoes I would think we'd be talking about a ski boat or small sail boat at most. If you include canoes and kayaks, it might be a small fishing boat with a 15 HP motor or a jet ski.

I've lived within a few hundred yards of Lake Havasu, and today there are hoards of younger boaters. The 2008 crash had its effect on all ages of boaters, now recovered. The gas crunch as well had a serious effect. These both killed off bass fishing for a while. Tournaments about disappeared.

Bass fishing boats are way more expensive these days. Tournaments just recovering along with the gas prices.

Maybe the original article was related to 'Yachts'? Larger than say 40 footers? Havasu could barely accommodate one that large.

As a colleague said to me once,
"I have 3 goals in life:
1. To be a good father
2. To be successful in life and
3. To have a friend with a boat.

To link this to the sex recession article, part of it may be that fewer millenials have people to be on a boat with, and travelling around on a boat by yourself doesn't seem much fun.

Indeed. If boating isn't going to get you laid, what's the point?

Without an entourage, a millennial with a boat is just a little man in a canoe.

Demographics have shifted quite a bit. I suspect the new Americans have different preferences.

One other hypothesis, delayed family formation (or never forming one at all). I know a lot people who got a cottage/boat so they could build memories with their kids. If you used to do that at 30 and now you do it at 35+, it would contribute to the trend.

1) Can you get cell coverage out on the water? If not, well, there's your simple answer

2) There's been a boom in radio ads by companies that will try to get you out of your timeshare. I wonder if this is somehow related or parallel to a drop in boat ownership.

You would see the same effect in pleasure aircraft, motorcycles, car and motorcycle racing, in any area where the cost of purchase and ongoing expense is pretty high. If it's only seen in boating then it's not ipads but something else. I personally think it's ipads etc, I ski a lot and the number of young people skiing really seems to have dropped off. I live in Australia where skiing is a relatively expensive sport, the average age of skiers/snowboarders has definitely increased since around 2010.

We had a drop off of all skiers after the 2008 crash. But skiing and boarding has definitely recovered at Mammoth Mtn. one of the best and biggest ski areas in the US. It does surprise me to see all the younger folks considering the expense of skiing these days.

The pleasure aircraft crash already came. Check out the volumes of small aircraft produced in the 70s and today, the diversity of manufacturers, and etc.


If it floats, flies, or fucks, rent it. Why would I want to deal with the hassle of owning a boat?

Here in Seattle there are more boats than ever, in an absolute sense, but as people multiply much faster than moorage it's become a very expensive hobby.

Why aren’t millennials buying boats? Consider this: Maybe they're smarter than we old people thought they were.

This may also be associated with leisure preferences. Perhaps millennials just do much less leisure that is time consuming than older generations did at the same age (this boating example may also apply to golf, hiking, kayaking, etc.). Some of these are expensive, many are not (at least on an hourly basis).

Probably a good thing. If you're dumb enough to waste money on overpriced Apple products, you probably shouldn't be anywhere near water. *I keed.*

Here's why: when millennials were kids, everybody lower-middle class and higher knew someone whose family owned a boat. Two or three times a year, you'd have a get together with that family where you rode around on the boat in the lake, bay, or river. It was pretty cool the first time you did it, but it slowly became a ritual only briefly rejuvenated when you first drink beer or margaritas while hanging on the boat with friends, and by the time you're in the latter half of your 20s and actually starting to make money, you've done just about everything you can do on a boat. Why the heck would you buy one? It's like asking baby boomers "Why don't you want to retire to play shuffleboard and bingo and have 7 AM breakfast at McDonald's like your Greatest-Gen parents did?"

While money may be part of it, something else has changed. Consider motorcycles - one of the cheaper forms of transportation. The average age of motorcycle riders has been going up for years. It was in the mid-30's in the 70's, today it is 48. That's amazing to me - a motorcycle rider is more likely to be a retiree than a millennial.

I was recently on a SCUBA trip, and most of the people on the boat were near retirement age. Very few young people.

Young people aren't learning to fly, either. There is a large shortage of airline pilots because there are significantly fewer young people going into aviation.

The average age of factory workers is now in the 50's. I have talked to several factory managers who have complained that millennials simply won't do the work. They will interview for the job, but when they see the factory and the nature of the work, they turn it down. These aren't sweatshops, they are high tech, clean facilities with great working environments and good salaries. And this was happening during the recession when youth unemployment was high.

The military has complained that their new recruits have significantly poorer hand-eye coordination than previous generations, leading to training problems.

The fact is, we have raised a generation of risk-averse children who spend all their recreation time in the digital world and in closely supervised approved play, and they are very different in goals and abilities than the generations that came before.

This is the dumbest thing ever.

Entry level pilot jobs going empty? It's because they pay $35k a year and how do you get it? Do you show to to the Delta office and take a drug and eye test? No, you have to have thousands of hours and a bunch of certifications to even get a look flying Bismarck to Fargo. How do you get a thousand hours in a multi-engine? Fuel is cheap, right?

It's a similar story in supposedly well paid factory work. Show up and maybe you can make $12 an hour to let some fat 50 yr old to treat you terribly for 50 hours a week (the last ten are off the clock). Maybe in a year you'll get a raise. Oh and smoke some weed on your day off? Too bad, that's showing up on the drug test in a week.

Scuba (certified) and flying (couldn't afford to finish the cert) are extremely expensive hobbies, both in terms of time and money, especially for training and maintaining certs. Motorcycling isn't that expensive, but there is cost and finding time to get trained is kind of a pain.

My gut feeling here is that the recession basically prevented older Millennials from starting expensive hobbies out of college due to an inability to get a job to support, and made it so younger Millennials were much less likely to have parents able to afford expensive hobbies that they could share with their children. I'd further expect a number of younger X-ers dropped expensive hobbies through the recession.

It will be interesting to see if Gen Z resurrects any interest in these hobbies, or if they invent new high-cost hobbies. Their X-er and old Millennial parents are a lot less likely to engage in those past-times, and you know what they say about getting 'em hooked young...

Hey, How are you, I hope you fine, I am a new business owner for the boat I read your story it is very nice, I hope you always help me
Thanks for the information

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