This information is used to develop smarter boating policies and safety guidelines for boaters in the future. The survey is funded by two grants from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. It was completed by the nonprofit research institute RTI International and the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. Notable finds from 2018 include:
25.2 million boats were owned by 14.5 million households in 2018.
- 23.83 million boats in the country were owned exclusively by someone residing in the household.
- 1.4 million boats were in some manner of joint/shared ownership.
11.82 million boats were registered in the 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2018.
- Open powerboats continue to be owned by more households than any other type of boat.
- 13.4 million boats were owned in 2018 in the United States that were not required to be registered by the state.
- 4.24 million households were owners of one or more kayaks.
- 2.14 million households were owners of canoes.
Boats that were operated in 2018 were taken out on the water for a total of 471.8 million days.
- average of 3.8 hours 2.3 ppl onboard
- average number of days a vessel is used is 19 days.
- 29 days for motorized boats.
- 12 days for human-powered boats.
- 33.7% of all boats that operated over 3 nautical miles from shore were equipped with EPIRBs
- 83.2% of motorized boats that were operated at least once were equipped with an emergency engine cutoff switch.
- 13.9% had VHF-DSC radios.
- 65.6% of the persons that operated a boat in 2018 had not taken a boating safety course.
- 6 million boats that were operated in 2018 were either trailered or transported.
- representing 65.3% of boats operated that year
- Boats trailered/transported launched 167.3 million times in 2018.
10.2 billion person-hours of boating took place in 2018.
- 8.6 billion person-hours aboard motorized boats.
- 1.3 billion hours were spent boating on human-powered boats.
- Florida, Michigan, Texas, South Carolina, and New York − represented about 31% of all person boat hours that year
84.54 million recreational boaters of different ages, races, and ethnicities in the United States participated in boating
- 26.5% of the U.S. population boat-owning households were all-white household
- less than 1% of U.S. population boat-owning households were Black/African American households.
- 16.3% of U.S. population boat-owning households were Other and mixed-race households.
Regional boat use:
Motorized boat use:
- Midwest (56 days)
- Northeast (55 days)
- South (52 days)
- West (52 days)
- 23.1% of boat-owning households in 2018 had household incomes of less than $50,000
- 41.8% earned less than $75,000
- 37.5% earned between $75,000 and $149,999
- six per 100 million person-hours for all types of boating.
- five per 100 million person-hours for motorized boating.
- 13 per 100 million person-hours for human-powered boats.