As recreational boating grows in popularity across the globe, more people will be on the water — fishing, water skiing, traveling and exploring the world. And, to stay safe, these seafarers will need medical, security, evacuation, travel risk and crisis management services.

There are 17 million recreational boats in the United States, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Six million-plus boats are currently in European waters.

More boats will docked, moored, anchored or sailing across the globe in the next five years.

Originally projected to reach an estimated $35 billion by 2022, the global market of leisure boats is now predicted to reach $46 billion by 2027.

The growth of the boating community isn’t just due to the pandemic. The recreational boating industry has been on the rise for years, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. It is estimated that there are at least 140 million active boaters and watersports participants worldwide, including almost 100 million across the United States and Canada, 36 million across Europe and more than 5 million in Australia.

With the rising growth of disposable income in China, Asia Pacific is expected to experience the highest growth between 2020 and 2027 due to increased spending on leisure and travel. Boat International predicts a new generation of yacht buyers, specifically young Europeans and Americans, to drive the market in the future. 

yachts in Monaco

Boats Bring People to the Water

The pandemic did provide a boost, particularly for sales of new powerboats in the U.S. More than 310,000 new powerboats sold in 2020 — a number not seen since 2007. Brunswick, with brands Mercury Marine and Boston Whaler, found its third-quarter net sales were up 26% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Travel restrictions and work from home protocols also allowed more opportunity for outdoor recreation and exploration of local rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans. A Global Rescue survey found fishing as the second most popular low-risk pandemic pastime with 22% of respondents.

Boaters traditionally are middle age; currently the average age of a boat owner is just over 50 years. But COVID-19 changed that demographic, according to Brunswick CEO David Foulkes.

“We’ve attracted a new demographic,” Foulkes told CNBC, explaining Brunswick boat buyers have become more ethnically diverse and the average age dropped into the 40s. Sales also have risen among women. “I think that provides us great momentum, not just next year but into future years.”

Knowing the increase in outdoor adventures meant a greater need for travel protection services, Global Rescue memberships expanded to include Local Field Rescue services within 100 miles of home. Whether you’re canoeing,  kayaking, fishing or simply enjoying a view of the water, Global Rescue is there if you get ill or injured and you’re unable to get to safety on your own.

Rescue from the Place of Injury

Maritime rescues can be tricky, but Global Rescue, the pioneer of worldwide field rescue, offers evacuations to travelers with houseboats, trawlers, cabin cruisers or yachts. Each situation has different challenges, but there’s a standard protocol to ensure safety.

Two-way communication. In the event of an emergency, travelers provide Global Rescue with coordinates, either by cell phone, satellite device, email or via our mobile app. Once Global Rescue is contacted by a member, our operations team remains in constant communication with the member and his/her medical team.

Appropriate resources. If you are within 100 miles of the coast, Global Rescue will send the most appropriate method of transportation, which could be an air resource (helicopter) or a water resource (ship).

Local assistance. Any time you are more than 100 miles away from the coast, rescue may require the assistance of the local coast guard or ships in the area. If our in-house operations team can’t reach you fast enough, Global Rescue will send one of its vetted partners to you first.

Fit to fly. Once you are stabilized at the receiving facility, Global Rescue can evacuate you to your home hospital of choice if you require further hospitalization.

“We were thrilled to discover Global Rescue, which provides both rescue and evacuation services, as well as air ambulance transport back to the United States if more specialized services are needed,” said Marilyn Sharpe, who, with her husband Kent, spends several months a year cruising in remote islands of the Caribbean on a 56-foot trawler.


Travel Protection for Cruises

The pandemic halted cruise ships in March 2020. But the 2021 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) predicts two out of three cruise enthusiasts are willing to cruise within a year. A 2022Global RescueTraveler Sentiment and Safety Survey found that cruising is making a comeback. In fact, 19% of survey takers say they feel safer or much safer about taking a cruise compared to last year. 

Medical evacuations are handled differently for cruise ship travelers. Most ships have a doctor on board, so you’d see them first in the event of a medical emergency.

“Once you have disembarked at the closest port, our medical operations team coordinates with medical staff onboard, the port where you disembark, the evacuation providers from the port, and the receiving medical facility to make sure evacuation occurred as quickly as possible,” says Harding Bush, manager of operations at Global Rescue.

The largest privately owned residential yacht, The World, picked Global Rescue as the company to provide services should something happen on a voyage.  

“If you travel the around the world you sometimes find yourself in places that are far off the beaten track. Global Rescue was the company to get us to a facility where we could be evaluated with more equipment and more expertise than is available on the ship,” said Dr. Harris Silverman. 

Planning an ocean or river cruise? Ready to fish, surf and boat this summer? Consider signing up for a Global Rescue membership. Global Rescue can be your maritime medical advisor, providing advice when symptoms present and field rescue when an emergency strikes.