Monday, 10 November 2008

Changing future of cruising.

Yesterday the marina had a visitor. Chris Caswell, a journalist from Sailing magazine.He was researching a piece on why cruisers stay together etc...

Nothing new in that, or is there?

It set me to thinking about the current changes in age demographics, the economy, state of the world etc and how this will really alter the face of cruising in the future.

I have talked before about the way the economic meltdown is having an immediate effect on cruisers here, many boats for sale, many cruisers returning to work. And reading the forums on the various sailing websites this is by no means unique to my current location. So where from here?

Will there be a swing away from the older retired boater? Pensions are taking a hammering, house prices plummeting. These issues, coupled with the fear that the future may not be as well cushioned as had been planned for, will no doubt dissuade many from spending a large cash sum to purchase the boat and head off on an adventure that, for many, can be a disappointment.

The cruisers who see boats as an extension of the RV ( recreational Vehicle) lifestyle are often the ones most disappointed as they discover that sailing can be scary, expensive, and not the endless round of social activities that they are craving.

Equally the young families taking a few years sabbatical are going to be under greater pressure economically and may feel more comfortable remaining in their salaried jobs. It will be harder to pick the reins up on return.

What, it seems to me, is going to be the growth area are those who have a career that enables them to be totally independent of geography.Who will work from their boats. The entrepreneur, probably based around the internet, could well lead the cruising community in to the future. Probably younger than today and seeking a more adventurous lifestyle than before.

Will it be that, for the first time in many years, we will see more boats out on the water than in recent times when most stayed close to, or even in, the marina. And will that change the type of boat that is desirable? Less apartment type catamarans and more ocean going yachts?

The explosion in the boating industry has been driven by the massive economic wealth of a few nations. As we enter a period of recession and cost cutting the first things to go will be the yachts, and the racehorses, I am told! I wonder if the big AWB (Average white boat) manufacturers are nervous.

What do you think?

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