A Lifestyle Story:  Portland, OR. More sailboats and motor-yachts than usual are plying local waters. On the Willamette River, Jeff and Susan Lyon join Zach Francis and Amy Jeuck for a cruise, and it’s part of a national trend. Coronavirus restrictions are limiting travel and activities, but boating naturally allows people to abide by social distancing guidelines. The National Marine Manufacturer’s Association (NMMA) is seeing an increase in sales.

The industry organization Discover Boating, has seen unprecedented growth in June compared to the same period last year. The organization’s website DiscoverBoating.com is also attracting more females and younger audiences.

NMMA says this spring 70-percent of marine dealers nationwide say their sales have increased. The biggest growth is coming from smaller, entry-level boats, which NMMA says indicates more people are boating for the first time.

“Many first-time boat buyers invest in a boat to replace other summer traditions canceled due to the pandemic,” says NMMA rep John-Michael Donahue.

Jet skis are one purchase for first-time buyers entering the marine market. NMMA found people bought 75% more personal watercraft this May than May 2019. Wakeboard boats and other small boats like cruisers have been popular this spring.

Local sailing races and regattas, like this one on the Columbia River, include the Oregon Offshore, Swiftsure and Pacific Cup. The Portland Yacht Club also partners with the Willamette Sailing Club to offer youth sailing programs.

A record number of yacht sales is also being reported.

In the Portland area, major motor-yacht club cruises with Portland Yacht Club include Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day events. There are stag cruises, ladies cruises, and a closing day cruise to Beacon Rock.

Discover Boating is seeing consumers gravitate toward website content that helps them get started in boating and learn how to operate their new boat. Some of the articles consumers seek out are listed below:

Local people interested in boating will need a Boater’s Education Card. Oregon law requires all motorized boat and PWC operators who are at least 16 years old and will be operating a boat over 10 hp to pass a boater safety course and to carry a boater education card. Here’s a link to the online course.