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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

BOAT RENDEZVOUS ARE BIG BUSINESS

 We have attended a number of rendezvous on Georgian Bay in the last few years and others going back many years on Lake Simcoe. It seems like a simple enough thing to do to get a bunch of like minded boaters together but in fact there are many logistics related to safety, reservations, food and special events associated with a boat rendezvous. Boaters are also a very independent lot so sometimes it’s difficult to get them to stick to an agenda – like herding cats.

Some of the marina and boat brand manufacturer rendezvous are very large at upwards or over 200 boats. Large groups might be spread out two hours apart from the front to end boat as they travel mother goose style to the next destination. Safely anchoring/rafting that many boats in a harbour is quite a feat on it’s own. Same with docking large groups at marinas that get filled to capacity. Lots of coordination involved.

We attended the Parkbridge group of marinas last season and they did an excellent job – certainly one of the best organized I’ve seen and it was huge group of boats. Some marinas are set up better than others to mange this kind of onslaught on boats coming in at one time. If it’s a fuel and pump out stop things at the gas docks get very interesting.

I recently read that Nemi in the North Channel had undergone waterfront development so they can accept large boat rendezvous to their town. This included things like a waterfront trail, a new pavilion, increased parking, tennis court and other recreational opportunities, new signage lighting and landscaping, re-decking and improving the docks and upgrading the streetscape of the town. This was a very wise move on their part. It comes down to economics – spending to compound revenue.

Boaters drop a lot of money when they travel with a rendezvous. There’s fuel, pump outs, docking, food & beverage supplies, dinners out, marine repairs and shopping. I decided to check and see how much we spent at our one Killarney stop last year that was two day stay over. For our 52’ boat that grand total was $1992. including tax all in that we spent for a party of three. We’re still eating Hawberry sauces and I still wear my Herbert Fisheries T shirt. Great memories too! Point is, a few hundred boats traveling the Bay is big money pumped into local economies by any standard. I’m sure our group overall probably dropped $200k or more just in Killarney. Everybody along the way benefits and it spreads money deep into the economy where fuel companies, merchants, marinas and restaurants need it.

Now cruisers spend money in the same way – just not in big groups. The collective volume of individual cruisers dwarf rendezvous traffic. So why is Parks Canada making it so difficult and so expensive for boat tourists to come up the Trent to visit one of the worlds most spectacular cruising areas. I just doesn’t make sense. Boating in Ontario is a major positive economic force and the marine industry and boaters themselves need to do more to educate the Provincial and Federal governments and for that matter the general public as to the economic importance of the industry. More important ... the local Chambers of Commerce, merchants, marinas and restaurants in all the ports need to scream it out load and clear to the politicians that represent them in their riding.

Posted by at 1:08 PM
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