Supply chain disruptions could mean you’ll be waiting a while for that new boat

Motor Boat Photo by Shutterstock/Adam Melnyk

Worker shortages, factory closures, and shipping delays have caused a crushing blow to the global supply chain. The disruption, which is a result of the COVID pandemic, extends to a variety of industries, including boat manufacturing. So, cottagers, if you had your eye on a new boat this summer, expect delays.

In spring 2021, 73 per cent of marine manufacturers reported backlogs in demand, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). Sara Anghel, president of the NMMA, says that while the supply chain disruption has caused a slight depletion in the number of available boats, there is still a healthy inventory out there. So if there are boats to choose from, what’s made acquiring one so difficult? It’s the surge in demand over the last two years.

New boat sales rose by 15 per cent in 2021, reaching 46,500 units—the highest number since 2012. Pre-owned boat sales jumped by 22 per cent in 2020, reaching 71,700. The number increased again in 2021 to 75,100, the highest sales numbers in the last 10 years.

There was also a significant increase in Canadians earning their pleasure craft operator cards. In 2020, 237,000 new cards were issued, compared to 2019, which saw fewer than 150,000.

The reasoning behind the surge in boating demand, Anghel says, is simple. “It’s a trend we’ve seen happen almost all around the world. People are not able to travel, so boating is this fantastic thing to do while social distancing with your immediate family members not far away from home.”

The increase in demand combined with supply chain disruptions means Canadians could experience a prolonged period between purchasing a new boat and actually acquiring it. According to Anghel, the waiting time depends on the type of boat you’ve purchased, who’s manufacturing it, and where the parts are coming from.

“If families are looking to purchase smaller aluminum fishing boats or smaller fibreglass boats, things that don’t take as long to build and are made within our domestic market, those may be easier to obtain more quickly,” Anghel says. “When you’re looking for a customized, larger boat, that’s where the challenges are going to come into play.”

If you’re not willing to wait for a new boat, an alternative is purchasing a pre-owned boat—no waiting on parts. But beware: demand for pre-owned boats remains high, so the variety of inventory available is limited.

If you are thinking of purchasing a pre-owned boat, the first step, Anghel says, is deciding how you will use the boat. Are you looking to go fishing? Do you want a boat that’s good for water sports? Or are you looking for something you can cruise around on the lake? She suggests checking out, where you can look at different types of boats and their manufacturers. You can also find local boat dealers on the website.

Once you’ve settled on the type of boat you want, Anghel says it’s best to contact a local dealer and have them walk you through their pre-owned inventory. This prevents any issues with online scams and ensures you have the dealer’s expertise at your disposal.

Before purchasing, Anghel recommends contacting insurance providers to get a quote. An older boat may be cheaper upfront, but it could cost you more in insurance.

Finally, check that the boat is NMMA certified. “That guarantees that the boat was inspected by one of our inspectors when it was brand new, and it meets all the certification and safety requirements,” Anghel says.

“People who want to get into boating, we always encourage them to do their homework on boating safety to ensure the best experience once they pick whatever boat they want.”

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