Boat Registration Numbers

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) just released its annual recreational boat registration statistics report and it shows a slight drop in the number of registered boats on the water. Boat registration numbers decreased by 2.2 percent (or 282,615 boats) for a total of 12.5 million registered boats in 2010 compared to 2009’s 12.7 million.

Of the 12.5 million registered recreational boats, the report notes there were 183,930 new model year powerboats sold and registered in the United States in 2010.

The report provides detailed registration data on a national, regional and state level and includes new boat registrations, U.S. Coast Guard documented boats and total registrations by boat segment, size, power, and hull material. Regional summaries include population/income estimates and shoreline/inland water data.

The report also ranks each state based on the number of boat registrations. Florida took the top spot with more than 900,000 registered boats. Below is a list of the 10 states with the most registered boats:

1. Florida — 914,535 registered boats in 2010. Florida held the number one spot for total boat registrations, decreasing 3.6 percent from 2009’s 949,030.

2. Minnesota — 813,976 registered boats in 2010. Minnesota moved from third to second for boat registrations, increasing 0.3 percent from 2009’s 811,775.

3. Michigan — 812,066 registered boats in 2010. Michigan moved from fourth to third, staying relatively flat in 2010 compared to 2009’s 811,670.

4. California — 810,008 registered boats in 2010. California dropped to fourth from second, decreasing 10.7 percent compared to 2009’s 906,988.

5. Wisconsin — 615,335 registered boats in 2010. Wisconsin remained ranked fifth, decreasing 1.8 percent compared to 2009’s 626,304.

6. Texas — 596,830 registered boats in 2010. Texas held its sixth place ranking, decreasing 4.1 percent compared to 2009’s 622,184.

7. New York — 475,689 registered boats in 2010. New York was again ranked seventh for total boat registrations, decreasing 0.7 percent from 2009’s 479,161.

8. South Carolina — 435,491 registered boats in 2010. South Carolina held its ranking in eighth place, remaining flat with 2009’s 435,528.

9. Ohio — 430,710 registered boats in 2010. Ohio kept its ninth place ranking for total boat registrations, increasing 1.4 percent compared to 2009’s 424,877.

10. North Carolina — 400,846 registered boats in 2010. North Carolina again ranked tenth, decreasing 1.2 percent compared to 2009’s 405,663.

In addition, the report analyzes total boat registrations and finds the following interesting facts:

• 95 percent of mechanically propelled boats are less than 26 feet in length; 42 percent are less than 16 feet and 54 percent are between 16 and 25 feet in length.

• 57 percent of mechanically propelled boats have hulls made of fiberglass and 38 percent have hulls made of metal.

• 66 percent of mechanically propelled boats are outboard boats, 20 percent are inboard/PWC and 13 percent are sterndrive boats.

• The Pacific region posted the largest decline in registrations for 2010, down 9 percent compared to a year ago. The Mid-Atlantic region posted a 207 percent increase in registrations.

• The Great Lakes region again ranked first, accounting for slightly more than a quarter (27 percent) of all registered boats in 2010.

“The annual U.S. Recreational Boat Registration Statistics Report allows us to grasp how many boats and what types of boats are on the water to get a deeper understanding of what Americans are buying and what type of boating they’re doing across the country,” says Jim Petru, director of industry statistics and research for NMMA. “Our 2010 findings tell us that recreational boating remained a popular activity with just a slight decline of 2.2 percent, during one of the toughest recessionary years from 2009 to 2010, further demonstrating boaters’ dedication to the lifestyle despite economic conditions.”

Responsibility for registering recreational boats in the U.S. falls onto the individual states that annually report their registration data to the U.S. Coast Guard. It is from this data that the 2010 U.S. Recreational Boat Registrations Statistics report is compiled. Other sources used in this report include the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Info-Link Technologies Inc, and Statistical Surveys, Inc.

Boat registrations statistics are the basis for allocating the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund dollars among the states each year. In addition, NMMA uses the registration data to develop its estimates on annual state dollar sales of new boats, motors, trailers and marine accessories for its annual Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract.

For more information, visit NMMA’s website at