Guest column: Where have all the boats gone?

Where have all the Boats Gone

Mar 11, 2021

By Pat Sturgeon

I start off my column by saying Wow!!  What a market!

I have never seen such panic buying in my 43 years in this industry.  Everyone wants to get out on the water. 

There are not enough boats available to satisfy this market.  Manufacturers of new boats are running – on average – one year behind.  Partly due to overflowing order books (high demand) and manufacturing struggles due to labour challenges and component shortages caused by the global pandemic.

This puts incredible strain on what is left – used boats!

I would like to reflect back on an article I wrote for my newsletter in November 2017.

I described the reason we had fewer boats on the market at that time as a result of unpredictable new boat sales going back to the early 90’s.

Almost all of the Canadian manufactures closed their doors in 1990. New boat sales were very rare until 2000 when North America finally decided to accept the French built boats.  Up until then it was Catalina, Hunter and MacGregor boats that the Canadian economy could afford. This was primarily due to unfavourable exchange rates and duty, FST and PST on boats out of the USA.  The premium builder’s boats were just too expensive.

During this time there were plenty of used boats out of the late 70s and 80s that were still considered great value and these boats circulated the market for years.

As we entered the post 2000 era, new boat sales started to increase – but in spurts -with no real sustained numbers that we saw in the 80s.  Consequently we are now faced with the pre 90s boats not enticing enough for today’s boater, in many cases offering only maintenance nightmares along with poor ergonomics compared with the modern layouts.

Where does that leave us now?

We have to look globally and try to navigate through the Covid minefield of border closures and travel restrictions.  This puts the cost of boating at an all time high, at the same time that there appears to be a glut of leisure dollars to be spent, in part compliments of the travel and cruise industry tanking amidst the pandemic.

My advice is to remain vigilant for the right boat to come along and POUNCE!

Do not be afraid to look at buying globally. I have plenty of experience with this and have come up with some solutions to combat the restrictions we all face.

Pat Sturgeon YachtsAlternatively, look further ahead and consider waiting for a new boat to be built. The depreciation is getting smaller and smaller as the supply and demand works in your favour.

Be patient and we will all get out on the water!


 Pat Sturgeon Yachts, 1 Port Street East, Mississauga, ON

Related Articles

Sylvan G3 CLZ DC: Luxury For Everyone

Sylvan’s brilliant G3 CLZ DC brings an entirely new level of performance, comfort and versatility to Canadian boaters.

By Craig Ritchie

While Canadians may have been slower to warm to pontoon boats than our southern neighbours, that’s definitely changed as we see more of them gracing our waters every year. The latest data shows pontoon boats now represent around 30% of all new boats sold in Canada and it’s easy to understand why – with their interior space and tremendous versatility, pontoons are near-perfect family runabouts.

Read More


Cruising Georgian Bay’s 30,000 Islands: Canada’s Freshwater Paradise for Boaters

By Elizabeth Wilson, “Georgian Bay Beauties” (

The Plan

It’s a beautiful morning as we perform our pre-departure checklist, fire up the engines and prepare to release our lines. And if the long-range forecast of very low winds coupled with plenty of sunshine holds, that’s exactly what we need for the areas we plan to explore on this trip! 

We are departing Midland for a week of visiting some of the islands and anchorages within Georgian Bay’s “30,000 Islands” – specifically those along the western edge. These are the less protected islands which face toward wide-open Georgian Bay, where boaters often have to depart the small craft route and work a little harder at setting the hook but are then rewarded with magnificent western views, stunning sunsets, and so much to explore! 

Read More