At the Helm: Rock piles ahead!

By David Gee

Whether we’re on the lake, or simply navigating through life, some of the obstacles in our path are well marked, and others less so. Or not at all.

Case in point, I have owned boats for nearly 30 years and in all that time torn up only one prop, but that one time I really trashed it while running slow – and low – over an unmarked rock pile!

When I removed the mangled remains and placed it on the counter at a local prop specialist, he took one look at it and said “Halstead?” My reply, “Yeah! How’d you know?” He said, “We get a bunch of our business from that one spot at that one bay on that one lake. Even though pretty much everyone knows about that rock pile.”

Well, I clearly didn’t know about it, even though I knew the lake. It was a good reminder that what sometimes lies beneath the surface can cause us problems, especially when we’re least expecting it, even when navigating familiar waters.

If you review boating safety literature, as I just did before sitting down to write this, you will find most of the safety tips begin with a sentence such as this: “Hazards to boaters appear in many forms.”

Hazards to the recreational boating industry appear in many forms as well, as you will see in our Economic Forecast cover story. 

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When we left a space to make an open-ended comment in our recent Boating Industry dealer survey, of course lots of dealers told us about inventory issues, but many also responded with concerns about not being able to find enough qualified, skilled, experienced, reliable employees.

Jamie Bolt was one of those respondents. She runs Bethel Harbor Marina in the California Delta, and while she says inventory and parts issues have been a frustrating problem during the pandemic, those will be resolved. She’s not so sure about the workforce issues. 

“The lack of qualified technicians can be the ruination of a service center,” she told me in an e-mail exchange. “I fear the lack of skilled employees is going to be a long-term chronic problem. It’s very troubling.”

If you have some ideas, or tips, to share with Jamie and the rest of our audience about finding – and hiring – quality employees, drop me a line. Perhaps we are due to have an article about that topic as well., or make it the subject of a breakout session at our next ELEVATE Summit Conference.

And if you have any other thoughts about challenges for the industry – in plain view or not – we always enjoy hearing from readers.

In the meantime, stay safe, and beware of unmarked rock piles!  

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