Add watercraft to the list of products affected by COVID-19 supply chain disruptions in the North Okanagan and beyond.
The folks at Vernon’s KingFisher Boats aren’t complaining; sales have been stronger than ever with more people seeking the outdoors during the pandemic.
The boat manufacturer supplies 40 dealers with watercraft ranging from fishing boats to ocean craft. Normally, those dealers have inventory 12 months of the year, according to Mark Delaney, KingFisher’s director of sales and marketing.
That isn’t the case right now: all 2021 models are currently sold and new orders are about a year away from delivery — and 2022 is looking like it will be a repeat of this year.
“The sell-through has been to the point where a lot of our dealers have no product on the lot and they’re waiting for their 2022 models to show up, which starts basically Oct. 1. And a lot of those orders are already pre-sold, which is amazing,” Delaney said.
Demand for boating has been strong in the North Okanagan for several years now, but never to this extent — and Delaney has seen the trend stretch across B.C. and Canada.
“This year it’s been unprecedented. Demand has outstripped production, so that’s a unique situation,” he said. “People are staying home, they want to recreate close to home; Canada’s very blessed with beautiful rivers, lakes and oceans, and we’re taking advantage of that.”
KingFisher focuses primarily on recreational sports fishing boats, a category that’s morphing into what is referred to in the industry as “adventure boating.” Delaney describes it as a trend towards boaters who want the ability to hop along west-coast tourist spots rather than a boat that’s strictly for fishing.
Delaney said the sport fishing boats were the first to sell out, but the other models were quick to follow.
“It’s right across our five series; everything from ocean boats to river jet boats to our customers out east who are buying (various) types of fishing boats.”
For those who are currently in the market for a watercraft, Delaney suggests contacting a dealer to reserve a production slot on a 2022 model as soon as possible, or the wait could be considerably longer.
“If they can hold a production slot for the following year, they’re probably looking at (delivery) anywhere from October straight through until September 2022,” Delaney said.