National Maritime Day took place this week to celebrate the Savannah’s first successful transoceanic, steam-powered voyage across the Atlantic in 1819, a dramatic change is sweeping across the U.S. boating world.
Women are quickly joining men in what has historically been a male-dominated industry.
The irony is that in 1819, few women were aboard the Savannah. In fact, those on the voyage were required to be in separate facilities. The crew was made up entirely of men.
Today, times are changing!
- More women are buying boats. More and more, women control the family purse strings and make recreational purchase decisions. Women make 85% of the general purchasing decisions for families and hold 60% of the nation’s wealth. By 2028, women are set to surpass men’s salaries. This trend now applies to boating. As of 2020, 75% more women are shopping for boats, according to Boat Trader. Women represent 23% of first-time boat buyers and that number is increasing each year.More women are renting boats, too. At Boatsetter, a platform with 10,000 listed boats, 32 percent of renters are women, the highest percentage ever.
- Female millennials are driving boat sales. Millennials make up the largest demographic segment in the U.S. and half of them are women. While these millennial women make up 21% of the population, they account for 31% of boat sales. Female millennials like boats because these young women are technologically savvy, confident and independent minded.
- Women boaters focus on their family. Many women boat owners use their boats with their children. Said one owner: “My kids are varying ages. The boat is one of the few places that once we get out on the water, my parenting blood pressure just lowers.” Said another: “I married a golfer, so that’s why I bought the boat. That’s why it’s my boat, for me and the kids. I’m very proud of it and I love it.”
- Women are more active in the boating industry. More women are on yacht crews and are part of the management team in boating companies. Advocates for diversity, such as Jenny Mathews, creator of “She of the Sea,” are developing boating safety and ownership programs just for women.
- Women captains have become social media celebrities
Allison Anderson, social media influencer, has 537,000 followers and is an avid boater in Idaho. Sandy Yawn has a TV show called Below Deck Mediterranean. Betty Bauman founded Ladies Let’s Go Fishing in 1997, now the largest organization in the world focused on introducing women to fishing.
- The pandemic drives women boat owners. The lockdown increased household responsibilities for women. According to Boat Trader, these added responsibilities have led many women to seek COVID-safe options for getting out of the home with their children. Boating in the fresh air is seen by women as a fun and safe gathering place for families.
Lots of resources for women boaters
It’s no surprise, then, that the increase of women boaters has spawned many new organizations that support this trend. Here is a brief list:
- National Women’s Sailing Association: www.womensailing.org
- Ladies Let’s Go Fishing: www.ladiesletsgofishing.com
- Women Aboard – Network for Women in Boating: www.womenaboard.com
- U.S. Sailing Association, Women’s Events Calendar: http://www.ussailing.org/calendar
- Sea Sense Training School: www.seasenseboating.com
- Boat U.S. – Women in Boating: www.boatus.com/women
Boating will continue to draw men, as it historically has. But the future of boating will likely include both women and men, working together to ensure that boating grows and is enjoyed by as many Americans as possible.