We’re No. 4 – and It’s Nothing to Be Proud Of

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Ahoy!

This week the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) released the updated boating registration data for the nation. In my column last week I reported that 10 years ago California was ranked the second-largest recreational boating state in America. California has held that No. 2 position for a decade, but now our state has dropped to fourth in NMMA’s 2010 U.S. Recreational Boat Registration Statistics Report.

The NMMA report states that the number of registered boats in the nation has decreased from 2009 to 2010 by 2.2 percent – or 282,615 boats. There were a total of 12.5 million registered boats in 2010, which is down from 12.7 million in 2009 – still very impressive numbers when considering the difficult economic times the nation is still facing today.

Florida still ranks No. 1 with 914,535 registered boats. However, in a surprise, Minnesota slid up a notch into the No. 2 spot, with 813,976 registered boats. Michigan has remained in theTtop 10 even after a purge of its registration records 10 years ago dropped them out of first place. Now Michigan has an impressive 812,066 registered boats, good for third place ahead of California, since California had a huge 10.7 percent decrease from 906,988 in 2009 to 810,008 registered boats for 2010.

Wow, look at millions if not billions of dollars of lost revenue for California as our state continues to not value or recognize the huge economic benefit of recreational boating and fishing. California needs to become more of a boater- and fishing-friendly state, as are other areas in the nation. I have stated for years that we need to lower the tax on boat purchases and the personal property tax that is applied to baots. This would drive the economic generator for the huge ancillary spending base that the marine community generates, with all the activity from restaurants, car rentals, fuel, flowers, hotel stays, groceries, and I can go on and on. As I have stated many times before, how many megayachts and airplane sales are in California versus our neighboring states or countries?

The next states remain static with Wisconsin a distant fifth at 615,335 registrations, and Texas holding on to sixth, which could be much better given its lakes and the access to the Gulf. Another state that could improve is New York at seventh, but, like California, New York has very high taxes that make boaters shift their vessels to other states’ waters.

South Carolina, still in eighth with almost half of California’s registration total, and is ahead of Ohio in the No. 9 position.

Finally the beautiful state of North Carolina which is just south of my Dad’s Commonwealth of Virginia, held the No. 10 spot, with 400,846 registered boats in 2010. This is a decrease of only 1.2% from the prior year, even though Congress has yet to fund the dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway through the Army Corps of Engineers.

Tip of the week is next Saturday, Oct. 15, is the Sail for the Blind and Visually Impaired hosted by the Newport Harbor American Legion Post 291’s yacht club, bayside at 15th street on the Balboa Peninsula. The club will host more than 240 blind and visually impaired adults along with their escorts during this day-long event, and their accompanying guide dogs are not forgotten either as a play yard will be set up for the dogs to romp while their owners are sailing.

The Women’s Ocean Racing Sailing Association (WORSA) sponsors the Sail, and they organize several hundred volunteers from the community, American Legion, local skippers, Girl and Boy Scout troops, Police Cadets, 4-H members, and others. The volunteers supply the boats, breakfast and lunch, and entertainment for the Sail.

The sailing guests will be able to help steer the boats, adjust sheet and halyard lines, and feel the thrill of sailing with all the sensations of wind and motion. The boats will sail throughout Newport Harbor and some boats’ skippers might take the vessels out onto the Pacific Ocean if the sea conditions permit a safe voyage.

This wonderful event requires about 45 skippers and boats from the community, and more than 150 volunteers are needed to act as escorts, servers, crew, dog sitters and more. If you have a boat or can help as an escort, then please participate to bring the experience of sailing and show the Corinthian spirit for at least one day.

You can help with the Sail for the Blind and Visually Impaired either as a volunteer or with a tax deductible donation. Boat owners, skippers and those wishing to volunteer can call 949-673-5002 or 949-673-5070, or visit americanlegionyachtclub.com/index.php?id=126.

And don’t forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead’s Boathouse Radio Show, broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network every Saturday at noon, Pacific Time and replayed on Sunday at 10 am Pacific. Join Chandler Bell, Craig Carpenter, and me as we talk about “all things boating.” You can find the station listings, cable TV channels, live streaming on the Internet, and now available are apps to listen to the show for your iPhone, Blackberry, iTouch, Android, Palm, and Windows Mobile at www.BoathouseTV.com or www.BoathouseRadio.com.

Until next week, Safe Voyages!

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