Contrary to the images portrayed on TV shows like “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”, most American boaters aren’t sipping champagne on fancy yachts. According to a Forbes report, two-thirds of boat owners have a household income of less than $100,000 per year.

“The recession (of 2008-09) really hit us hard,” acknowledged Carl Blackwell, a spokesman for the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). The reason is because boating is primarily a middle-class activity with fishing (at 70%) topping what owners do. Tubing and water skiing were second and third, respectively.

“As the middle class goes, so goes the boating market,” said Kevin Grodzki, president of global sales and marketing at Wisconsin-based Mercury Marine, a top engine manufacturer.

Florida, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota and New York were the leading boating states last year with Americans returning to the water in record numbers. About 88.5 million Americans, or 36.6% of the population, participated in recreational boating in 2013. It was a $37 billion industry in 2013.

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