California leads U.S. in boat registrations

CHICAGO – California has overtaken Michigan as the state with the most registered boats in the country, according to the latest boat registration numbers from the United States Coast Guard, released Wednesday by the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

California added more than 65,000 boats to its 2003 registration total, moving up two places to claim the top spot from Michigan, which lost roughly 47,000 from its fleet over the same span.

The top five states, in terms of registered boats in 2003 were:
1. California – 963,379
2. Michigan – 953,554
3. Florida – 939,968
4. Minnesota – 845,279
5. Texas – 619,088

The South Atlantic region (Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Md., N.C., S.C., Va., W. Va.) took over the top spot in regional rankings, eclipsing the Eastern North Central region (Ill., Ind., Mich., Ohio, Wis.).

There were 2.558 million boats registered in the South Atlantic Region in 2003; a 1.0-percent increase compared to 2002. Total registered boats fell 3.6 percent in Eastern North Central region, which counted 2.554 registered boats.

Three additional regions experienced significant decreases in registrations during 2003, while one showed a strong increase in the number of boats registered:

Regions with increases:
Pacific (Alaska, Calif., Hawaii, Ore., Wash.) 5.3 percent

Regions with decreases:
New England (Conn., Maine, Mass., N.H., R.I., Vt.) 4.5 percent
Western South Central (Ark., La., Okla., Texas) 4.0 percent
Mountain (Ariz., Colo., Idaho, Mont., Nev., N.M., Utah, Wyo.) 1.2 percent

“These decreases reflect the state of the industry in 2003,” said NMMA Market Research director Jim Petru. “Factoring in the decline in unit boat sales that year and the number of boats retiring from the fleet, a decrease in the number of registered boats was expected.”

The top 20 boating states accounted for three out of every four of the nearly 12.8 million boats registered in the U.S. in 2003, NMMA said in its 2003 U.S. Recreational Boat Registration Statistics Report. The final report will be released during next month’s Miami International Boat Show. NMMA used registration data supplied to the US Coast Guard by the states to develop the registration statistics report.

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