Here we are once again faced with the impending fever of summer. We have at least four months of constant heat, humidity, afternoon storms, bugs and constant sweating. However, on a lighter note, we expect a busy summer in the yachting industry! Sales in the first quarter were up and we hope to keep this positive momentum going throughout the summer.

As the first quarter of 2010 ended, yacht brokerages in the United States were up nearly 30 percent in the same period as 2009 and at a total valuation of close to 70 percent higher. In the first quarter of 2009, 4,600 boats were sold as compared to the first quarter of 2010 when roughly to 6,000 boats sales were closed. This data was generated from yachts broker MLS sites and sold boat databases. These database and site reports showed that sales for March increased from 2,037 in 2009 to 2,574 this year, and the valuation grew from $167 million to $326 million. This dramatic increase in valuation is thought to be driven by the sale of the larger and more expensive yachts. For example, in March alone for boats larger than 55 feet, sales were up from $41 million in 2009 to $148 million in 2010. Of those boats over 55 feet, 89 changed hands in March as compared to 51 in 2009.

Brokerage sales have been stronger than the previous year’s benchmarks for several months. The number of brokerage boats less than 45 feet sold in March increased roughly 25 percent. Sales went from 1,893 to 2,356. However, for the first time, in March of 2010, unit sales not only beat those of March 2009, they were actually 150 boats (6%) higher than sales two years earlier (March 2008). And for the first quarter in 2010 sales were almost dead even with the first quarter of 2008. That is a significant improvement from 2009. It is not near the numbers we had in the first quarters of 2005-07, but nonetheless, it shows an inspiring turnaround.

In addition to sales being up, another reason we are expecting a busy summer is the upcoming sales cap tax covered in the story “Cap on Floridian Watercraft Sales Tax Aids Industry” in the last issue. To update our readers; the Boat Sales Tax Cap passed the Florida State Legislature as part of the “Jobs for Florida” bill on Friday, April 30, the last day of the Legislature’s current session. However, it was only just presented on May 18 for Governor Christ to approve. Now that the Governor has had the bill presented to him, he has 15 days from May 18 to sign the bill into effect, or in other words, until June 1. On this day, he has the ability to wisely pass it, or he could veto the bill. If he signs the bill or simply does nothing, the bill becomes law and will take effect on July 1, 2010. My sources tell me that it will be very unlikely that Governor Christ will veto the bill. If for some reason he does decide against this, it will be sent back to the State Legislature where it will need to pass both bodies by a two-thirds margin to override the Governor’s veto to become law, or the bill would die.

As Florida’s unemployment rate is at a staggering 12.2 percent as of March 2010, it is not difficult to see why Florida limps along at a grim fourth in the nation’s unemployment rate! Passing the sales tax cap bill will keep marine jobs in Florida and boost an already struggling economy. The Florida marine industry is the lifeblood of this state, and I strongly believe that a sales cap tax on new and used boat purchases WILL keep boats in our state, where they belong. This bill will make Florida tax-wise competitive with our neighboring states and will be an incentive for yacht and boat owners to keep their boats in Florida and more importantly, employ our yard workers and utilize our resources.

If you ever have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to call or email me anytime. 786-390-2782. Have fun and happy and safe boating! Keep it between the channel markers!