Doug Watene sold one boat within just two weeks of advertising it. The second one he didn't have to promote it as a stranger called in off the street and bought it.
The Whangārei boating enthusiast is among hordes of Northlanders and businesses struggling to keep buyers at bay as the demand for boats, post Covid lockdown, surged to levels not seen in a long time.
Commercial boat sellers and outboard motor repairers in Whangārei have hardly any stock left at the onset of summer.
Watene, an earthworks contractor living in Kamo, had three aluminium boats and thought about getting rid of a couple as he hadn't used them much.
He sold one on Trade Me for $7000 late last month and didn't have to advertise for the second boat.
"Everyone buys a boat for Christmas. I'd been thinking about getting rid of a couple for some time now and the first one was gone in just two weeks after I advertised it," he said.
Boat sales at Outboard Pro on Port Rd is up 70 per cent and owner Haydon Spiers described the demand for boats after the lockdown as "unprecedented".
He sells fibreglass and alloy boats.
"What we are finding is a lot of people are coming in who are new to boating, or they used to have boats when they were younger and want to come back to it again. Most of those selling their boats are upgrading."
"People realise we have a great coastline here in Whangārei and it's good to see people enjoying what we have here."
Spiers said with international borders closed, coupled with the fact a lot of his customers were tradies who earned good money and have confidence going forward, businesses like boat and campervan sellers were doing well.
Some people put new boats on their mortgages, he said, as interest rates were cheap. For others, the purchase represented expendable income they had allocated for overseas travel.
There were 672 listings on Trade Me in Northland for boats and accessories this week.
Warren Hay Marine is fielding calls from Auckland and other parts of the country not just about boats but accessories such as fish finders and marine electronics, which are in short supply, said owner Warren Hay, partly because of delays in clearing shipping containers from overseas.
Sales shot up by 50 per cent in the past couple of months and the business has hired two more staff.
"Over Covid, families got to spend more time together and have come back down to 40 hours work a week and said 'that boat I've been promising for 10 years, that's what I'll get to'. People have got sound jobs so they are not too perturbed about it.
"We are getting phone calls from Auckland, I don't know how many times a day and our waiting list extends to April/May," Hay said.
He expects strong demand for boats to continue in the first quarter of this year.
Northland Regional Council and police have increased water patrols along Northland's coastline this summer to ensure boaties were adhering to the rules pertaining to safety, speeding and wearing lifejackets.
NRC harbourmaster Jim Lyle said one of the concerns about an increasing number of people buying boats was whether they have the experience and knowledge of water rules.
It was important people serviced their new boats before taking them out to sea, he said.
"Stay safe, take the communications gear, check the weather forecast, and let someone know where you're going and when you are coming back," was the message from Lyle.