A new study has revealed that 142 million Americans – 36% of US households – went boating in 2016. Of the 142 million individuals, half were children under the age of 18, and 17 million individuals were first-time participants.

Of those Americans who went boating in 2016, those who spent the most hours on the water or engaged in fishing and watersports were more likely to consider purchasing a boat.

The findings come from a 2016 Recreational Boating Participation Study, released today by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and Discover Boating.

“The results of the new Recreational Boating Participation Study illustrate the breadth of recreational boating in the United States and the opportunity for our industry to get more Americans on the water and ultimately buying boats – exploring emerging markets such as Hispanics, reaching younger boaters, and encouraging those already active in boating to pursue boat ownership,” says Thom Dammrich, NMMA president.

Amongst the key findings was that active boaters spend an average of 71.5 boating hours per season. First-time boaters spend much less time – an average of 23 boating hours.

Active boaters (74%) are also much more likely than lapsed boaters (42%) to say it is easy or very easy for them to go boating. The perceived ease or difficulty of going boating is associated with the number of days active boaters spend on the water. Just 20% of those who said that going boating is difficult spent more than five days on the water during 2016

Active boaters are also economically diverse. The majority (62%) have household incomes under US$100,000 per year. Futhermore, 32% of first-time boaters were Hispanic compared to 10% active boaters, suggesting they’re continuing to emerge as a significant market.

Some 58% of first-time boaters were renters compared to 25% of active boaters, and first-time boaters are more likely than other active boaters to use personal watercraft (PWC), suggesting that PWCs are a gateway to boating.