Pandemic boating boom

Boat loan applications soared in the first few months of 2021, according to report by Positive Lending Solutions, despite COVID-19 lockdowns restricting activities in some states.

The South Australian-based loan company’s report, published in August, revealed a 20 per cent increase in new boat purchases, while used boats experienced a 50 per cent rise in sales.

With COVID-19 taking international travel off the agenda for many, more Australians chose to holiday closer to home.

Showcases a Perth marine setting.
Boats moored in Matilda Bay on Perth’s Swan River. Photo: Mya Kordic.

In WA, Royal Perth Yacht Club experienced a rise in memberships, particularly for families.

The club’s marketing manager Kelly Scott said families were making the most of enjoying the outdoors together on the water.

At Nedlands Yacht Club, a bit further down river, memberships offer Perth boating enthusiasts use of facilities, storage and the opportunity to participate in racing and social programs

Nedlands Yacht Club managing secretary Duncan Ray said there had been a small rise in interest over the winter, but that a change would be easier to see once the sailing season got underway in October.

“Certainly for our sailing courses and things like that, there is an increase in interest, because people can’t travel as freely as they used to,” he said.

While the report’s numbers present a promising demand for boats and interest in the activity, Mr Ray said restrictions were still inhibiting the industry from functioning at its maximum potential.

He said the club had some members who were not in WA and couldn’t get back to use their boats because of COVID19 restrictions.

The Sea Safe Boat School in Maylands helps newcomers to boating learn skills and provides training towards acquiring a skipper’s licence.

Sea Safe director Mike Watson said he had experienced a huge increase in people wanting a skipper’s ticket, about double the usual number.

“It’s because of COVID, we have never been inundated with so many customers as we’ve got at the moment,” he said.

The report also showed caravan loan applications to be on an incline, as Australians are making alternate holiday plans.

“People are saving their money. They’re buying a boat or a caravan and staying in WA,” Mr Watson said.

Ms Scott said it was important not to think too far ahead toward the next season, although she acknowledged how lucky Royal Perth Yacht Club was to be located in WA, experiencing only minor COVID-19 interruptions.

“If WA stays COVID free, we can look forward to a fantastic summer of activities out on the water,” she said.