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Urban Coast Institute Report Examines How Mid-Atlantic Boaters Spend Time and Money

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. ― Delaware boat owners spend the night on their vessels most frequently. New Jerseyans are on the water the most days per month, but no one does it more than Marylanders in July. Not to be outdone, Virginians are willing to travel the farthest for a day at sea.

Collectively, boat owners from all four states inject more than $300 into the economy each time they take to the water, according to a Mid-Atlantic Recreational Boater Survey report released today by the Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute (UCI). The report examines spending and activities by Mid-Atlantic saltwater recreational boaters. The report is based on data collected by the UCI and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) during a six-month survey project and analyzed by students from Monmouth University.

“Those of us who live along the Mid-Atlantic coast intuitively understand how ingrained boating is with our way of life,” UCI Director Tony MacDonald said. “With this project, the UCI and a team of Monmouth University students were seeking to discover in concrete terms what these activities mean to our states and coastal communities. When you scan the numbers, you begin to realize that a leisurely day at sea has serious importance to our economies.”

Respondents were asked to complete monthly surveys about their most recent boat trips as well as an end-of-season survey of general expenses of owning a boat. Among the results:

  • Boat owners and their parties spent an average of $318 per on-water trip. The largest expenses were maintenance/equipment/repairs ($86), fuel/oil ($78) and food/drinks ($50).
  • Boat owners and their parties spent an average of $727 during visits to their vessels that didn’t involve on-water trips. The largest expenses were maintenance/equipment/repairs ($474), transient/guest dockage ($78) and food/drinks ($61).
  • The total annual non-trip expenses of owning a boat ― such as financing, insurance fees, storage and documentation fees – were placed at $7,722.
  • The economic impact of recreational boating crosses state lines. Respondents reported at least some portion of their expenses occurred outside of the state where their boat was launched on 14 percent of on-water trips.
  • New Jersey owners took their boats on the water most frequently throughout the season (5.05 days per month), while Marylanders were on the water an average of 5.71 days in July – the most by any state for a single month. The average monthly total for all four states was 4.68 days.
  • Delaware owners took the most overnight trips (2.4 days per month). The average for all four states was 1.46 days.
  • Virginians traveled the farthest to the site where their boats were launched – 65.62 miles per round trip. The average for the four states was 57.25 miles.

The survey also inquired about the impact of Superstorm Sandy on vessels. Seven percent of respondents reported their boats were damaged during the storm. Of those, 52 percent received a small amount of damage, 36 percent saw moderate damage, and 12 percent saw a large amount of damage.

The report’s release marks the completion of a two-phase project. Survey participants completed questionnaires about spending and trip activities, and they also used an online program to digitally map their trip routes and activities. In the project’s first phase, the mapped data was incorporated on the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal (, an interactive mapping and information site managed by the UCI, MARCO, The Nature Conservancy, Rutgers University, and other partners. That data can be accessed on the Portal’s Marine Planner mapping application by clicking on the Recreation link and selecting from any of the maps listed under the “Recreational Boating Survey” heading. In the second phase, a team of statistics students led by Professor Richard Bastian of the Monmouth University School of Science conducted an analysis of the questionnaire data.

Respondents were considered eligible to participate if they were the registered owner of a boat 10 feet or longer that was designated for recreational use and used on ocean waters. A total of 475,596 boats from the four states were found to be eligible for the survey. A pool of 715 respondents completed one or more of the surveys over the six months.

The questionnaire emulated one completed in 2012 by states from New York through Maine so the data could be directly compared between regions. The initial survey work was completed with grant funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

About the Urban Coast Institute

The Urban Coast Institute (UCI) was established in 2005 as one of Monmouth University’s “Centers of Distinction.” The UCI’s mission is to serve Monmouth University and the public interest as a forum for research, education and collaboration in the development and implementation of science-based policies and programs that support stewardship of healthy, productive and resilient coastal ecosystems and communities.