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U.S. Coast Guard Survey Offers Valuable Insight into America’s Boating Trends
December 16, 2020

MANASSAS, Va. (December 14, 2020) – The United States Coast Guard recently released the National Recreational Boating Safety Survey (NRBSS), offering valuable insight into the makeup of America’s boaters. Data includes information on boat ownership, frequency of boating, boating safety, at-risk populations, and the types of vessels most frequently used and registered.

The survey shows that boating remains a popular outdoor recreational activity in households across the United States. Key insights include:

  • Boat ownership is on the rise, with 14.5 million households in the U.S. owning one or more boats.
  • Boating participation is also becoming more racially and ethnically diverse.
  • New boaters are entering the market into boat ownership in creative ways such as rentals, shared ownership, and bareboat charters.
  • Two-thirds of all people surveyed who operated a boat had taken a boating safety course.
  • About one-third of all boats were equipped with an EPIRB, 83.2% of the motorized boats were equipped with an emergency engine cutoff device, and just 13.9% had VHF-DSC radios.
  • The purchase of boats such as kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards are on the rise. About 42% of boat owning households own only boats that are not required to be registered by a state.

This data will be helpful in developing effective boating safety programs and provide opportunities for new partnerships, and assessment of regulations and enforcement to reduce boating accidents.

The NRBSS was completed by 5,851 households across the U.S. in 2018. It was completed by RTI International and the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University, with funding from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. To learn more about the NRBSS and access the detailed survey reports visit


About the National Safe Boating Council

Established in 1958, the National Safe Boating Council is the foremost coalition for the advancement and promotion of safer boating through education, outreach, and training. For more information about NSBC programs and professional development opportunities, visit

Media Contact:

Yvonne Pentz, Communications Director, National Safe Boating Council,, 440-670-1294

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