POLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Boat sales in Maine and nationwide are up thanks to consumer confidence as the country recovers from the recession in 2008, according to boat dealers and a nationwide study.
A report from the National Marine Manufacturers Association shows that new powerboat registrations were five percent through April of 2017 compared to April of last year.
Captain Jack Stewart, a sales manager at the Yarmouth Boat Yard, said sales are up 20 to 25 percent from last year.
"It started in January. It's been going strong all year long," said Stewart.
Stewart says more middle-income earners are buying boats, thanks to consumer confidence in the post-recession rebound. He said boat sales dipped in 2007.
Stewart said new boat owners are purchasing lower end boats, while people who have owned before are now upgrading. He grew up fishing, and now wants to share his passion with others.
"The Coast of Maine has that gift shop balsam smell, but you're not in a gift shop," said Stewart. "It's hard to explain, but the smile on the face of the family members [when they get a new boat] -- it's a wonderful feeling."
Stewart said the most popular sizes of boats are between 22 and 26 feet long, but can range anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000, depending on the brand, amenities, and other features.
Dipping the hull in the water, trolling along the pond, and gliding over the glassy surface -- activities that only the wealthy could afford years ago -- are gaining popularity and accessibility.
Tim Gratto, a sales representative at Portland Yacht Services said customers are buying all types of boats, not just one type.
"They're also saying, 'I can have something like this,' and it's within their reach now," said Gratto. "The smiles on their faces are unbelievable when they're taking their new boat out and they're taking their grandchildren out for the first time fishing and I get pictures sent by customers of big bass and grandpas with their grandkids -- it's fantastic."
The NMMA report found saltwater fishing boat registrations increased the most (9.6 percent) over the 12-month period. Jet boats (9.3 percent), personal watercraft (8.6 percent) tow boats (6.9 percent) and pontoons (6.9 percent) followed behind.
Outboard boats, which represent 65 percent of total new powerboat sales, were up 4.5 percent in registrations. Larger boats (27’ and greater), were up 8.9 percent through April.