> SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! 

A 90-degree afternoon coupled with time for family and friends this past Wednesday was an ideal occasion to use the Cobalt Runabout powerboat, which the White family bought last year.

“We love it,” said owner Cristyn White of North Liberty, Iowa, who took her daughter and a friend for a spin around Coralville Lake. “We are here three or four times a week, easily.”

A stable financial situation and lower gas prices helped make boat ownership an attractive choice for the White family.

They aren’t alone. Industry reports and state licensing data suggest buyers are spending more on life’s luxuries, such as boating.

Boat registrations, which operate on a three-year cycle in Iowa, are well below the 2009 peak of 247,190, which was the last year of the 2007-09 cycle. But they are rebounding, according to data from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Registrations fell nearly 7% from 2009 to 230,155 by 2012, which was the end of the next cycle, according to the data. But the current cycle shows signs of recovery.

Between 2013 and 2014 — the first and second year of the current cycle — registrations climbed 10%, which is the biggest one-year uptick since the Iowa DNR established the three-year cycle in 2007. If the pace continues, registrations would exceed 2012 figures and end a few thousand shy of 2009.

“I would say we are going to pass our 2012 numbers,” said Susan Stocker, Iowa DNR boating law administrator and education coordinator.

For the full story click here.