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Summer is already well underway, but its faltering start due to the COVID-19 lockdown has left many in the boating industry wondering, “what happens next?” 

Arguably, we haven’t been in this position before. But, in a way, that’s actually pretty exciting. We’re literally entering uncharted territory, and in an industry that is more resilient than most, that spells lots of opportunities. 

recent study by Sea Tow has shed some light on what we can expect from boating this season, and it’s pretty good news.  

Let’s take a look at the findings. 

Who took part in the survey? 

Sea Tow decided to quiz around 5,000 of its members in a bid to understand how their habits in 2020 are likely to impact the summer season. 

“In a time when it’s important for our industry to band together, these statistics shed a little light on what we can expect and help us adapt to continue to support boaters,” explained Sea Tow president, Kristen Frohnhoefer. “Our survey shows that many boaters will modify their boating behavior in light of COVID-19 and a large percentage plan to boat more frequently. Knowing this, Sea Tow and other marine businesses can adjust their strategy and services to ensure that families continue to safely enjoy their boating plans for the summer.” 

The questions were simple and, as you’d expect, linked largely to new social distancing measures and post-COVID confidence (or lack of). 

Key findings 

The good news? Nearly every boater who participated in the survey (93% of them, to be exact), considers boating to be one of the most effective social distancing activities available.  

We couldn’t agree more. 

For 37% of the respondents, the new world order is actually tempting them to increase their boating activity this summer (47% said they wouldn’t change their frequency at all). 

Clearly, this is good news for the marina industry and signals what is likely to be a quick return to full health for the sector. 

A summer of socially responsible actions 

The results of the survey also confirm how seriously boaters are taking social distancing. 

Among their usual boating habits, they appear willing to adjust their behavior to account for the new guidelines. 

This is how boaters plan to be more responsible in 2020: 

  • 54% will socially distance on boat ramps and within marinas and fuel docks; 
  • 35% will only go boating with people from their own household; 
  • 32% of boaters are planning on expanding their quarantine circle so that it includes more family members and close friends; 
  • 30% have decided not to raft up with other boats; and 
  • 31% will remain in local waters rather than travelling to other marinas or cities. 
Non-boating vacations are off the agenda 

Sea Tow’s research reveals a fascinating trend regarding non-boating vacations. 

Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed who had non-boating vacations planned said they had canceled their plans. By contrast, just 24% of those with boating-related vacations have cancelled them. 

Could this mean more boating activity over the summer? It seems so; 28% of the respondents confirmed they would probably add vacations on or by boat this summer.  

However, it’s expected that transient overnight boat stays at marinas are likely to remain the same, with 60% of those surveyed saying their quantity of transient stays won’t change at all (13% said they’d increase them). 

Wrapping up 

“What’s better for that than boating?” enthused Frohnhoefer in response to the survey results. And she has a point; it’s exciting to see how excited people are to continue and, in some cases, increase their boating activity this summer. 

Clearly, it won’t all be plain sailing (sorry), but for as much uncertainty as there is in the air this season, there appears to be an awful lot of positivity, too.

DockMaster Software is an industry leading management system for marinas, boatyards, and boat dealerships. DockMaster includes Unit Sales, Prospecting and F&I with fully integrated financial management and numerous integrations with CRM applications, dealer websites and text/messaging services. The Service module includes estimating, labor tracking, and complete parts management with ordering/receiving, subcontractor fulfillment and invoicing. DockMaster Mobile allows technicians to clock on/off jobs from any mobile device. Visual Marina™ management includes storage & billing, occupancy tracking, reservations and dry stack management, including integrations to leading consumer applications for boat rentals, online reservations, concierge/launch scheduling and our new Fuel Integration with FuelCloud. DockMaster also includes Point of Sale, Order Entry with eCommerce and a complete accounting system. Learn more at and follow DockMaster on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and LinkedIn. Or email

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