The abundant joys and pleasures of the winter boating season are upon us. It is November – the traditional season for an estimated 900,000 to a million seasonal visitors who come for at least a month to overwinter in Florida. Some fly, some drive, and others arrive by train. Still, between November and April, Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, says that 100,000 boaters come to Florida and our marinas by water on any given day.
The core of ARG Marine’s business is locals who own boats and companies who service water-based activates, including boating tourism. The affordability of spending time on the water also attracts seasonal snowbirds enjoying water taxis and pontoon cruises to deep-sea charters and sailing. Though the coronavirus has seriously impacted tourism, ARG Marine has actually seen a slight uptick in customers from West Palm Beach to Jupiter Inlet looking for used boats and outboard motors for sale.
Social Distancing and Boating
Industry-wide, the data indicates that the demand for watercraft has increased seventy-five percent over the summer. This bump in sales is attributed to the fact that boating is the perfect social distancing activity. First-time boat buyers are on the rise as people figure out that being on the water is both a cherished and convenient opportunity to spend quality time with close friends and family while also improving their mental health during the pandemic.
Though some snowbirds are taking a wait and see approach to heading south, others have been looking on the brighter side about different ways to spend the winter in Florida. Just last week, ARG had an inquiry from New Jersey about liveaboard boating options. The caller explained that he and his wife usually rent a place near Okeechobee from December through April. He said they were exploring a different kind of winter escape by taking a deep dive into the boating world. Their idea was to buy a small vessel and explore the Florida coast. And since they are retired, help them decide if they want to move south and live on the waterfront for good.
He explained that the warmer weather offered them the chance to be outdoors – a much safer alternative to being stuck inside due to bitter cold weather and, for health reasons, avoid the crowd at their usual lakeside rental. The water would also offer them endless opportunities for day and weekend trips up and down the coast.
For those not familiar with Florida’s east coast, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW as referred to by locals) is much like Highway A1A that runs south from Fernandina Beach at the Georgia state line to Key West. Like the highway, the water route is relatively straight and easy to navigate.
ARG is located in Rivera near the beach – a 46-mile day trip by water to Fort Lauderdale – given you do not stop and have short wait times cruising past the 26 bridges that cross overhead. Provided you do not stop, the entire ICW can be navigated in three to four weeks. To see the entire waterway, slow and relaxed is the best pace with must-do stops in historic St. Augustine, Merritt Island’s Kennedy Space Center, Boca Raton’s Red Reef Park for snorkeling, and venturing on down to the Keys for a cheeseburger in paradise. Boating offers the convenience of putting down an anchor anywhere you stop, renting a marina slip in the event of unexpected weather, and the occasional land getaway to any number of hotels right on the water.
Thinking about how to escape this winter? Give us a call at ARG Marine, or stop on by Monday through Friday from nine to five. We would love to help you select a boat and share a few of our favorite locales from our adventures on the Intercoastal.