The Coast Guard has released its National Recreational Boating Safety Survey and its chock full of demographics of those who took to the water in recreational vessels in 2018, as well as profiles of boat ownership.
The survey — actually two separate reports — checks in at more than 180 pages and reflects the continued high popularity of recreational boating as an outdoor recreational pursuit.
It also draws a distinctive profile of those who own boats and how they use them. The survey was sent to 43,590 households. The Coast Guard hoped to get 5,000 completed surveys. It got 5,851, for overall response rate of 14.9%.
So, here’s a 6-question quiz to see how much you know about the recreational boating sector and its constituents. And no cheating.
Question 1: We go with a daily double right out of the box: How many Americans engaged in recreational boating in 2018? And how many U.S. households owned boats?
Answer 1: According to the survey, an estimated 84.5 million Americans — more than 26% of the country’s total population — engaged in recreational boating at least once in 2018. Nearly 14.5 million U.S. households — or about 12% of total households — owned 25.4 million recreational boats.
Q2: How many of those recreational vessels were unregistered?
A2: More than half of all recreational vessels — 13.4 million — were unregistered. The number reflects the growing popularity of human-powered vessels, such as kayaks (7.3 million), rowed boats (2.4 million) and canoes (2.2 million). There were 11.82 million recreational craft registered in individual states.
Q3: How long did the nation’s fleet of recreational vessels, registered and unregistered, operate on the water in 2018?
A3: All boats, registered and unregistered, operated for 10.2 billion person hours, or 1,164,383 person years.
Q4: Is recreational boating the domain of only the wealthy?
A4: No, said the survey’s authors. “Many persons that boated in 2018 had household incomes below the national median,” they wrote.
They pointed out that one-third of all recreational boaters in 2018 had household incomes of less than $50,000 and 52.3% had less than $75,000 in household income.
Q5: Are recreational boaters and recreational boat owners becoming more racially diverse?
A5: Yes and no. And, in 2018, the disparity seems steeped in boat ownership.
“The findings indicate that boaters in 2018 were more racially diverse than previously assumed, but they still are not representative of the racial and ethnic distribution of the country,” the authors stated.
The survey estimates that 78.4% of recreational boaters were white, 15% were Hispanic or Latino, and 7.7% were Black/African Americans.
According to the U.S. Census, 76.6% of the U.S. population in 2018 was white and 13.4% were Blacks. Hispanics and Latinos made up 18.3% of the U.S. population in 2018.
Boat ownership is even less diverse.
“The vast majority of recreational boats were owned by white households,” the survey authors wrote. “Black/African Americans and Hispanics represent a very small percentage of boat-owning households. This may be a factor in limiting participation of more minority persons in boating given that the survey found that not knowing anyone who owns a boat was a significant reason why persons did not boat in 2018.”
Q6: If boat ownership remains a racial barrier, is there any other means for people to access the use of recreational boats?
A6: It appears there is, in something called the shared economy.
“The shared economy involved individuals renting or borrowing goods rather than buying and owning them,” the survey authors wrote. “Although a large percentage (42.9%) of persons that boated in 2018 went out on boats owned by their households, the data point toward increased use of rentals, shared-ownership boats and bareboat charters. This trend has significant implications for targeting efforts and designing regulations aimed at encouraging that boat operators receive boating safety education.”
Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT