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Onwards and upwards, the boating industry is on the move - Australian MarineBusinessWorld newsletter

by Peter Rendle 4 Jun 14:00 PDT
Matthew Hodson © John Daffy

While some state Premiers decline to open their borders, the boating industry continues to plan for the future. Already positive feedback from major players indicate that the way forward is proving fruitful despite the federal government declaring that Australia is in recession. COVID-19 might have shut down boat sales initially, but they've rebounded like a slingshot, according to marine industry consignment specialist, Matthew Hodson of John Crawford Marine.

The Brisbane-based business, established 56 years ago and which specialises in used trailer boat sales, described late May as being "like three Christmases in two weeks. That has created a vacuum in stock," Mr Hodson said. "Sales were made right across the range now leaving us with our lowest stock level in the 21 years I have been at JCM. We've had first time buyers as well as people who have owned multiple boats streaming through the display yard."

An indicator that travel restrictions are having an effect on the economy is the report from Superyacht Australia. Data released recently by the peak body for the superyacht industry shows that foreign-flagged superyachts stayed an average of 73 days in 2019 compared to an average of 41 days in 2018, representing a 79% increase in the length of stay. The economic impact of this was just over $63,873,000 and represents a 60% increase on 2018's already impressive economic impact of $39,843,000.

The passage of the Special Recreational Vessel Act in December 2019 by the Federal Government now allows foreign flagged superyachts to charter in Australian waters. As a result, Australia saw its first charter client in December, with Hollywood actor Will Smith chartering a superyacht out of Cairns. With the passage of these laws it is expected that Australia will see a further 300% increase of visitation over the coming three years. Queensland saw the highest number of visiting vessels along with the longest duration of stay generating an 87% increase compared to the previous year.

Other aspects of the industry are starting get back to normal including boating-connected clubs. This is the case at the Southport Yacht Club in Main Beach. After months of closure in light of the pandemic, Southport Yacht Club will re-open this Friday, 5th June. One of Gold Coast's premier outdoor dining venues, and recent winner of Club's Queensland 'Best Sports Club', will open its doors once again to their 3000+ members and the public this weekend. New revised Government restrictions allow the Yacht Club to open based on 20 people per "room/defined area", while still applying the one person per four square metres rule as per the COVID-19 dining guidelines.

Further south, another yacht club is focused on environmental issues. The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has installed six marine-cleaning SeaBin devices around the Club premises in Rushcutters Bay, reaffirming the club's commitment to the environment. The project - part of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment's Waste Less Recycle More initiative - will result in a reduction of up to 8.4 tonnes of marine litter each year. "The Club is keen to ensure we do all we can to limit our impact on the environment - whether we're on the water or off it," CYCA Commodore Paul Billingham says. "The installation of these devices around the CYCA will make a big difference to the local aquatic environment, ridding the area of much of the mixed marine litter and general debris including water bottles, food wrappers and other rubbish." The project came to fruition through a project partnership with Woollahra Municipal Council.

Long term Australian powerboat builder Alan Steber of Steber International has been building leisure craft for many years. However, the company's expertise provides them with the skills to supply commercial craft and Steber International's latest build for the Federal Government will greatly assist the development of Australia's future uninhabited surface and sub-surface vehicles. The Steber 40 (40ft) will be the 21st vessel built by Steber's for the Australian Department of Defence. The Department of Defence's Science and Technology Group (DSTG) conducts research in a number of areas including support for the RAN's mine countermeasures programs. A DSTG spokesperson said: "A key component of this research involves the use of uninhabited underwater and surface vehicles".

And new product releases this week includes the Webasto Blue Sky sliding hatch, designed for the wheelhouse or cockpit canopy of power craft. The original Bluesky electric sliding hatch with insulated panel is made from two acrylic shells with a dark grey tint, resulting in a modern lightweight design especially constructed for the marine industry. Webasto have recently added some new variants to their product portfolio including an electric, flush integrated glass version with a 6mm grey tinted glass panel. Also new to the range are manual versions, offering the same quality and design features as the electric versions, great where a more economical solution is required. The Manual Acrylic version is also now available in a smaller 500 x 500 variant.

We report industry news on a daily basis. Keep up to date by visiting

Stay safe,
Peter Rendle

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