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Nationwide Boat Sales Reach Record High During Pandemic

Marc Dorfman steers a sailboat in Biscayne Bay.
Kristin Moorehead
Marc Dorfman steers a sailboat in Biscayne Bay.

Marc Dorfman has been sailing for more than 23 years. He's a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain, captain at SailTime Miami and an American Sailing Association certified sailing instructor. He moved from Los Angeles to Miami during the pandemic.

“When COVID hit in LA, they really shut the city down. And they shut down all the work that I was doing on the water. And so it didn’t make sense to stay," he said.

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Dorfman says interest in sailing has skyrocketed since the pandemic. He called it "a new beginning."

The National Marine Manufacturers Association reports that total boat sales were up by 13% from 2019 to 2020. The NMMA recorded about 318,000 boats sold throughout the year. These numbers were the highest they’ve been since before the 2008 Great Recession. Sailboat sales increased by 17%, with more than 5,600 units sold.

Dorfman also has a very different view of powerboating than of sailing.

“Miami is surrounded with powerboats blasting loud music. Sailing is quieter, it’s a more relaxing way to be on the water. You know with powerboating you can just hand somebody the key and they hit the gas. With sailing, there’s a lifetime of learning," he said.

WLRN recently joined Dorfman on his sailboat and a reporter even helped him with leaving the dock — donning a pair of fingerless gloves, and grabbing hold of the rope, as Dorfman expertly guided the sailboat out of the narrow channel.

Out on the bay, Dorfman unfurled the sails and turned off the engine — leaving only the serene sound of water lapping on the hull and the billowing of the wind in the sails.

Kristin Moorehead is a 2021 WLRN summer intern and recent graduate of the University of Florida with a B.S. in Telecommunication.
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