Learn the Ropes

Boating Is a Beloved Florida Pastime, But It's Not Always Smooth Sailing

With Florida ranking No. 1 in boating accidents in the country, here are some stats to consider as we take to the waves this summer.

By Bethany Ritz May 26, 2023 Published in the March-April 2023 issue of Sarasota Magazine

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, lots of people hungry for fresh air
and a sense of possibility took to the open water. As a result, boat sales shot up by
40 percent, and Florida was home to a lot of that action. Bounded by water on three sides and streaked with rivers, inlets and bays, Florida is home to more than 1 million registered vessels alongside another 1 million non-registered boats that are active in Florida waters each year.


Number of registered recreational boats in Sarasota and Manatee counties in 2021.


Only people born during or after this year are required to obtain a Florida Boating Safety Education Identification Card prior to operating a motorboat.


Age group of operators with the highest number of boating accidents in Florida.


Number of people killed in boating accidents in Florida in 2021. That same year, 23 people were injured and 2 died in boating accidents in Sarasota and Manatee


Percentage of operators involved in fatal accidents in Florida who had no formal
boating education.


Acreage of seagrass beds that have been damaged by boat propellors in South Florida. That’s about 23,000 football fields.

Sources: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation

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