In Australia, the recreational boating season is about to get underway in earnest and it’s shaping up to be the one of the best. One positive from the Covid pandemic is the unexpected upsurge in the sale and rental of watercraft. Suppliers and retailers across the globe report demand levels unseen for years. And there is no sign of a downturn anytime soon.
The marine industry covers a broad range of sectors, and the Boating Industry Association of Australia reports strong growth across all, with boat sales, storage, yard services and charter operators leading the way. It has an $8.835 billion turnover in Australia according to 2020-2021 industry data. There are over 925,000 registered boats plus a similar number of paddle craft, SUPs and sailing dinghies. The non-powered sector has experienced especially strong growth over the period.
Sales of paddle craft, SUPs, powerboats and sailing boats are stretching supply chains to the limit as more people realise that rivers, lakes and open waters are the perfect places for “social distancing.
Being on, around or in the water has remarkable therapeutic benefits on our health and wellbeing as examined by marine biologist, Wallace J Nicholls, in his 2015 landmark book, ‘Blue Mind’. Indeed, in a recent article the president of the Boating Industry Association, Darren Vaux, referenced the book as part of a considered plea to governments to include all forms of boating in any planned path out of lockdown, saying, “It is imperative that boating be included in any initial easing of current and any future restrictions in jurisdictions across Australia. There are significant physical, mental and community benefits to be gained from encouraging people to responsibly go boating in all its forms as the antidote to pandemic blues.” You can read the article here: https://www.bia.org.au/news/boating-is-the-antidote-to-pandemic-blues
Although Lake Burley Griffin is a smaller inland waterway it has an enthusiastic paddle sport and sailing community. Electric auxiliary motors are allowed, however, petrol powered boats are restricted to coaching, judging, rescue, lake management or special interest such as craft from the Traditional Boat Squadron for which special permits are available.
The 2020 summer bushfires that devastated the east coast of Australia and subsequent pandemic was a double whammy that contributed to the closure of the last of Canberra’s independent canoe and kayak retailers which has limited the range available locally but certainly not dampened the enthusiasm. So, if you plan on enjoying the water this season here are a few suggested retailers, all of whom deliver to the Australian Capital Territory and beyond.
Currently two of the major outdoor retailers, Anaconda and BCF in Canberra keep a limited range of kayaks and SUPs which will be available once stores reopen but can be ordered through "click & collect" or online now.
I've only discovered the joys of kayaking in the past decade and currently use a "Quest 10" (manufactured by Canadian company, Riot). It provides an ideal platform to photograph lake landscapes, the occasional event on the water and other items of interest. Needless to say, kayaking is also a great way to keep fit.