Press Release

The States of Boating: Report Shows Where Americans Take to the Water Most
Florida, California and Great Lakes Region Anchor Spike in New Boat Registrations
(December 12, 2006) –The start of winter marks the start of boat show season when thousands of boats will be bought and sold across the country. To get ready, Discover Boating, the national consumer awareness program for the recreational boating industry, took a look at how many boats are already on the water and released new data today showing overall boat registrations increased 1.3 percent to 12.9 million in 2005. 


The national rankings reveal Florida as the top boating state for the second year in a row with nearly 974,000 registered boats, followed by California, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The top five boating states accounted for nearly one third of all boat registrations. The data was compiled in conjunction with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA)'s 2005 U.S. Recreational Boat Registration Statistics Report.

“Not only did boat registrations increase, but we also saw an increase of 2.3 million in overall boating participation in 2005 to 71.3 million,” said Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA and Discover Boating. “These numbers tell us that boating is growing in popularity as a leisure time activity.” 

Despite most of the nation in the grips of winter weather, now is the time when prospective boat buyers start shopping for a boat. Over the next three months there will be hundreds of boat shows in markets across the U.S. where visitors can browse a wide selection of boats and negotiate with dealers under one roof to find the boat that’s right for their budget and lifestyle. 
“Winter is the ideal time to shop for a boat because boat shows allow people to view and board all makes and models in one place at one time – all while being able to negotiate pricing that isn’t typically offered during the warmer months,” Dammrich said. “By shopping now—especially in cold weather states—people can make an educated decision and have their boat ready to hit the water come spring.”

The top 10 states for registered boats in 2005 were:
1. Florida (973,859 registered boats)
2. California (963,758 registered boats)
3. Michigan (944,138 registered boats)
4. Minnesota (853,489 registered boats)
5. Wisconsin (639,198 registered boats)
6. Texas (614,616 registered boats)
7. New York (508,536 registered boats)
8. South Carolina (416,763 registered boats)
9. Ohio (412,375 registered boats)
10. Illinois (380,865 registered boats)

Regional Rankings
The Great Lakes region remained number one in regional rankings, with the Inland region falling from second to third behind the South Atlantic region.

The top regions for boat registrations include:

  • Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI) – 3.4 million registrations
  • South Atlantic (FL, GA, NC, SC) – 2.7 million registrations
  • Inland (AZ, AK, CO, ID, IA, KS, KY, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, SD, TN, UT, VT, WY) – 2.1 million registrations

The top 20 boating states represented nearly three out of every four boats registered in the U.S. in 2005. NMMA used registration data supplied to the U.S. Coast Guard by the each state to develop the registration statistics report.

A complete list of state-by-state rankings, as well as additional information on how to get started in boating, can be found at Visitors to the site can also find information on upcoming boat shows in their area and advice on choosing a boat to suits their needs. 

Boat registration statistics are compiled by individual states. The federal government uses these statistics to allocate Aquatic Resource Trust Fund dollars among the states each year. NMMA uses the registration data to develop its estimates on annual state dollar sales of new boats, motors, trailers and marine accessories. This comprehensive sales information will be available in May.

The full 2005 U.S. Recreational Boat Registration Statistics Report will be available in January and can be ordered by contacting the NMMA fulfillment department at 312-946-6200. The cost is $150 for NMMA members; $300 for non-members.

About Discover Boating
Discover Boating is a public awareness effort managed by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) on behalf of the North American recreational boating industry. Discover Boating programs focus on increasing participation and creating interest in recreational boating by demonstrating the benefits, affordability and accessibility of the boating lifestyle while helping to educate potential boaters and offering opportunities to experience the fun and togetherness of being on the water on a boat. Each year, more than 71 million people in the U.S. enjoy boating, the recreational activity that "connects like no other.” To find out more, visit

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