Pandemic leads to increase in boat sales, traffic

Business News

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Boat shop owners in Rhode Island say they’ve seen a boom in business lately and it’s due, at least in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mike Farman, a yacht broker at Brewer Yacht Sales in Warwick, says sales for anything water- related, including boats, jet skis, and yachts, have taken off since the pandemic hit.

He believes being on the water is a way for people to get out of the house while staying socially distant.

“This year is busier than I can ever remember,” Farman said. “What’s happening this year that’s different than most is, of course, the virus, and that’s causing people to do different things with the rest of their lives and certainty their summer.”

Farman said he’s seen a lot of people without a job due to the virus, now with a lot more time on their hands.

“The people that are older and either retiring or forced to be furloughed, and they always had a dream of boating, so its a perfect opportunity to shelter in place with loved ones,” he said. “The younger folks, they’re not in school, some of them are laid off and half the family is not working, and they need to do something safe with the family, so they made a decision to buy a boat and live their dream.”

Farman’s been in the business for 18 years and said spring has always been their busiest season. That is, until this year.

But with all of the people out on the water, safety should come first, he said.

“You need to know how to be safe on a boat, so you should have a boating safety course under your belt,” Farman said.

East Providence Harbor Master Bruce Dufresne said he’s also seen a large increase in boating traffic, but thankfully, no accidents so far.

“The only thing to do this summer is to go in your pool or go out on a boat. Boat sales are through the roof,” DuFresne said. “There has been a huge increase in traffic on the weekends.”

Narragansett Harbor Master Kevin Connors said in his 30 years, this is the busiest season he has ever seen, and there has been an increase in boating incidents this summer.

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