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Old 02-03-2015, 07:05   #61
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Re: Good Dissection of Where Sailing is Headed

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Given the interest I see locally in dinghy sailing courses, I see no reason to feel sailing is disappearing
I agree. I don't think it's disappearing. But the economics of owning a large(ish) cruising boat are not easy to manage vs taking a small dingy class. Are more people shifting to smaller boats that don't go as far? I dunno... which is why I'm asking.

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I wasn't aware that sailing was diminishing in the US. But that is not a trend that's occurring throughout Australia. ... Owning a sail boat has never been cheaper in Australia. There are plenty of sea going well constructed and proven yachts available for $30 to $40k. From my observations in Tasmania there are plenty of rotting/sinking yachts available that are not up for sale too. Very sad.
I really do wonder if the decline (if there really is one ... I'm not sure) is more an American thing vs the rest of the Western world. Not that there are any lack of good quality older boats available here either. Hmmmm...

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I'm 44 and work with a lot of Millennials (30-somethings). In my business they tend to be pretty aggressive and not lazy. In fact, they work as hard as they play. However, since the internet and cell phones has made work a 24/7 endeavor, they rarely have whole weekends to themselves.
Exactly. Americans in particular work way more than the rest of the Western world. Sailing, and cruising in particular, takes times. I remember attending an outdoor adventure conference, and a new company was marketing its new immersion travel packages, except none were offered to North Americans (Americans or Canadians). It was a Canadian company so I asked the obvious: Why? The answer was revealing: "It's b/c our packages take time, and you North Americans just don't get enough time off work."

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"No - I'm too important to the business. If I left it would fall apart." or something like that. I chuckle inside and don't have the heart to tell them the truth.
That's not a generational thing, that's just an age-wisdom thing . The older we get the more we realize the world can get along just fine without us.

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I think the primary issue perhaps, is that current 25-45s are simple;y under too much financial pressure to engage in what is a relatively expensive and time consuming sport.
That's what I'm suggesting. Kids today come out of university already saddled with a mortgage-like debt. They hop on the wage treadmill and run hard to pay this off. Then they dive back into a real mortgage, then cars, kids, retirement savings, kids education ... there's just not much leeway to take off for extended periods or spending extra money.

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If it's in decline, why is it getting harder to find a mooring and it's nearly impossible to be alone in an anchorage. Stats may say one thing but looking around I call BS.
THIS is what I'm curious about. I keep hearing (and reading stats like AVB's article) that suggests sailboat ownership is on the decline. YET at the same time I keep reading popular anchorages are getting busier, and remote locations are now crowded.

If they are both true, then I think what is happening is that more people are congregating in fewer locations. Why? Shrinking vacation time might drive people to known locations. The vast expansion of guides, and now online tools like Active Captain, will drive people to the "five-star" spots. What about rallies? Are people less adventurous?
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Old 02-03-2015, 07:44   #62
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Re: Good Dissection of Where Sailing is Headed

Mike, the moorage slip availability is decreasing. We lost a full service marina to condos and the prices for slips/storage went up at others. Buying a keel boat is cheap, keeping one is not. But this only drives out the lower end of the renters of slips. No shortage of a "few" people with more money to fill the limited slips and not even use let alone go to their boats. The decline of "sailing" had to do with many of these things (time, money, desire).
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:02   #63
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Re: Good Dissection of Where Sailing is Headed

Honestly, maybe I'm not representative of millennials (though I am one), but every time I Facebook a sailing trip, I'm inundated with requests to join the next one; if only so my friends can Instagram sunset pics
There's probably no better time to be a millennial sailor. The gen xers and boomers bought (or in the club's case rented)really big boats they don't want to take out alone, so crewing opportunities are numerous! I've crewed for MIT professors, state street finance types, and venture capitalists. All very interesting days and great experiences!


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Old 02-03-2015, 09:06   #64
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Re: Good Dissection of Where Sailing is Headed

Really I think it's exposure though. Most of my friends didn't get to do it growing up, but are very into it now. So everyone, host a "take a millennial sailing day!" With any luck, you may even be helping to preserve your boats' resale value by creating new demand


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Old 02-03-2015, 09:26   #65
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pirate Re: Good Dissection of Where Sailing is Headed

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
I agree. I don't think it's disappearing. But the economics of owning a large(ish) cruising boat are not easy to manage vs taking a small dingy class. Are more people shifting to smaller boats that don't go as far? I dunno... which is why I'm asking.
In Europe small boats go very far indeed.. and 35ft is still considered a big boat for the majority of sailors..
Guess we're used to less space..
I really do wonder if the decline (if there really is one ... I'm not sure) is more an American thing vs the rest of the Western world. Not that there are any lack of good quality older boats available here either. Hmmmm...

Its an American perception.. held mainly by big boat owners and bewailed by expensive builders running outa market..

That's not a generational thing, that's just an age-wisdom thing . The older we get the more we realize the world can get along just fine without us.



That's what I'm suggesting. Kids today come out of university already saddled with a mortgage-like debt. They hop on the wage treadmill and run hard to pay this off. Then they dive back into a real mortgage, then cars, kids, retirement savings, kids education ... there's just not much leeway to take off for extended periods or spending extra money.

Thats down to choice.. no one is obliged to do the above.. but the 'State' would love it

THIS is what I'm curious about. I keep hearing (and reading stats like AVB's article) that suggests sailboat ownership is on the decline. YET at the same time I keep reading popular anchorages are getting busier, and remote locations are now crowded.
Charter companies are everywhere now with the ease of travel..
If they are both true, then I think what is happening is that more people are congregating in fewer locations. Why? Shrinking vacation time might drive people to known locations. The vast expansion of guides, and now online tools like Active Captain, will drive people to the "five-star" spots. What about rallies? Are people less adventurous?
Everyones using the same guides.. Cornells etc..
Still area's in the Med where you can sail for a week and not see another plastic fantastic.. just the local small fishing boats.. mind.. its a tad N of where everyone thinks Greece is..
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Old 02-03-2015, 10:15   #66
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Re: Good Dissection of Where Sailing is Headed

Great article and great chat! Having been involved in sailing for a mere decade, I cannot tell if it is in decline or not either. I will say that I can see, from a US standpoint, how it could be in a decline. It really all comes down to a lifestyle choice. One could say that it takes too much work to keep up a sailboat, but keeping up a home can be just as demanding. One could say it was the cost, but that is really quite similar to a land base home as well. But in a quantity vs quality world, that 'stuff' needs a place to be. Boats aren't big enough to live aboard and still have all that 'stuff'. But I am 'anti-stuff', so it works for me.

Turn on the TV. 1/3 over every show that is aired is dictation about how you need more 'stuff', which stuff is better, why you need it, etc. If someone doesn't understand that life is not 'stuff', it is a little hard to overcome the pressure!

I seldom do anything because it is 'popular', so let it decline if it must. There will always be folks like us that are true to the cause, 'brothers of the cloth', that will possible die onboard our boats with a big a$$ smile on our face!
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Old 02-03-2015, 10:30   #67
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Re: Good Dissection of Where Sailing is Headed

Many of the observations posted here are based on limited personal experience and speculation of younger peoples' motivations. So I'll post mine, which are probably different than yours, unless you are taildragerdrive.

When I was a kid, I got to pilot small sailboats and small motorboats. Motor boats were boring; sailboats were fun and fascinating.

I am a baby boom tail-ender. My recreational experiences have been on forefronts of GenX booms in whitewater kayaking, backcountry skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing. All these sports exploded in popularity after the Baby Boomers passed through them. Late Boomers and early GenXers changed these sports by refining the gear and tweaking their marketing-created images in order to sell the gear to more people. We see this happening now in sailboat design. I see the same resistance from the old timer sailors that I saw from old timer kayakers and skiers. But the truth is, better gear and better marketing brought more people into the sports that I love.

I always knew that I would get back into sailing when I was older, and less able to participate in adrenaline sports at a high level. I'm guessing that many of the people who followed me into the other sports will find sailing, too, as they get older.

Last year, at age 57, I entered the world of sailboat ownership. The way I see it, most of the baby boomers who want to sail are already doing it. The fat part of the GenX bell curve is not quite there. Based on my previous experience, I predict that they will arrive in 5 to 10 years.
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Old 02-03-2015, 15:58   #68
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Re: Good Dissection of Where Sailing is Headed

The health of sailing is like any endeavor, a complete mosaic of thousands of reasons this or that may or may not be happening. People will still have leisure time and they will still carve out bucks to do what they want with it. Like jwing I've passed through tons of hobbies/sports. Half of them were nascent or didn't exist when I was a kid. My first skateboard had steel wheels! Then I surfed. Then I sailed boated, then I learned to fly gliders. Soaring was hugely popular in the late 70's-mid-80's. Now it's a niche. I've done a ton of other sports.

Some sports have little capital investment. Some have higher or lower adrenaline rushes - so pursuit can be a stage of life thing.

Sailing, like soaring is fascinating and doing it "right" can be complicated/challenging because there is so much to learn. It keeps one mentally and physically challenged, although not as physically challenged as some other sports (I gave up men's league soccer in my 30's - LOL).

As to why docks are full? Well manufacturers keep making boats for one and there are few boats being really taken out of service. I met a guy at a party once who told me that he was also a pilot and had his own plane although he didn't fly as much lately as he'd like to.

I went the airport and found his plane. It had grass growing under it to the bottom of the pilot doors, flat tires, etc. etc...

For that guy he was still a pilot with his own plane. For me he was a guy spending $200 a month for a tie-down so he could go to parties and say he was a pilot with his own plane.

Also people continue to migrate towards big population centers - How many of the boats in your marina go out at least once a month?
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Old 02-03-2015, 22:44   #69
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Re: Good Dissection of Where Sailing is Headed

I think we are going to see the growth of a new industry- drone sailboats that you can buy an interest in and come home at night, take off your shoes and see what you sailed that day.
Real life is just becoming too hard and time consuming.
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Old 02-03-2015, 23:49   #70
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Re: Good dissection if where sailing is headed

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Honestly - we are only 20 or so years away from powerboats that can run indefinitely at hull speed using a completely electric setup recharged using solar... so, why have sails?
Great, now I have to wipe the coffee off my screen...but thanks for the laugh. If we ever get to that point, I think you are correct, sailing will be gone.

Much of the article is hyperbole. Sailing was never a mass market activity. I do think it's shrinking but a lot of that can be tied back to costs. Our 1995 boat listed at $90k new. The same model is over $250k. Prices are growing far faster than inflation by a large margin.
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Old 02-03-2015, 23:54   #71
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Re: Good Dissection of Where Sailing is Headed

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Just thinking about this ... I keep hearing that sailing is on the decline, but I also hear that popular cruising areas have never been busier. Anchorages are apparently full and moorings are hard to get. Seems contradictory.

Or are cruisers congregating more and more into fewer and fewer places?
Might be because pre fiberglass wood boats had a limited life before they had to be replaced (sure you could repair them but unless it was a high end boat it wasn't worth it). Along comes fiberglass and even cheap boats last 30yrs.

That means the annual production to keep the same number of boats on the water drops and this article was about sales figures.
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Old 03-03-2015, 00:21   #72
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Re: Good Dissection of Where Sailing is Headed

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you are so correct. I knew somewhere out there in CF there would be a nerdier nerd than me. It was Benjamin Sisko.

I have a client now who's young child she's called 'Teal'c'. Without the need to google it, can you have a guess of what she's a fan of?
My bad but my millennial daughters are big fans of SciFi soap, thou what can you expect when my boat name is Moya
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Old 04-03-2015, 04:39   #73
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Good Dissection of Where Sailing is Headed

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The buggers pinched the idea from an old Asimov story I believe. (Cap'n. Picard's self made solar wind powered space ship)

A man can dream, can't he? Sailing fuels my dreams in a similar way that Science Fiction has since I was a child.
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Old 04-03-2015, 05:12   #74
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Re: Good Dissection of Where Sailing is Headed

Although it does seem that overall sailing is in decline I do see a shift from ownership to club based participation. Last season I had a conversation omn the subject with a former local sailing club owner and he said that one of the reasons he sold out and retired was the growth of the membership which was difficult for him to keep up with as he was in his 70s by then. He said that every year for the past 10-12 years the club was getting more members (and correspondingly more boats) than the year before, even during the recession. And in the 90s-early 2000s the trend was the opposite as members were leaving and buying their own boats.

So I got the impression that the overall numbers of sailors was not declining but the number of owners were. I personally think the industry is pricing itself out of existence in the long run. Image if computers and electronics were going up in price as much as boating industry prices and without the corresponding rise in quality and/or usefulness. Having a few well heeled customers who can afford your product new is no way to support an industry in an economy of shrinking incomes and lengthening work hours.

But while the sailing clubs are great to get young pepole into sailing they're a deathnell to the industry as 100s-1000s of club members are using just 40-60 boats in total instead of buying their own 100s-1000s of boats. Not a sustainable situation to grow the industry in the long run. Or even in the short run.

To be honest I think sailing is going the way horses and related activities went 100 years ago - from an everyday activity for many to an exotic sport for the very few. O, well, such is life.
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Old 04-03-2015, 05:18   #75
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Re: Good dissection if where sailing is headed

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Great, now I have to wipe the coffee off my screen...but thanks for the laugh. If we ever get to that point, I think you are correct, sailing will be gone.

Much of the article is hyperbole. Sailing was never a mass market activity. I do think it's shrinking but a lot of that can be tied back to costs. Our 1995 boat listed at $90k new. The same model is over $250k. Prices are growing far faster than inflation by a large margin.
Exactly. I always make an analogy to the electronics industry and how it would fare if for the past 50 years it would have produced marginally more advanced product while pricing it well above inflation. Very few industries today can survive on the pricing model of the boat industry and I find it quite remarkable that it is still alive as much as it is, never mind the growth.
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