A Tugboat cruises

Activities on the river appear to be pandemic-proof.

Despite the ongoing battle with COVID-19, sales are up for area boat dealers, including Voyager Yacht Sales in Villa Ridge and Eberlin Boats & Motors in Hermann.

Voyager Manager Scott Mook reported boat sales are up 75 percent so far in 2020 over the total for all of 2019.

“When this thing initially started, I thought it would trainwreck the year, but that hasn’t been the case at all,” Mook said.

Voyager specializes in the sale of Ranger Tugs, which were designed for ocean use. However, Ranger now has two dealerships in the Midwest as they’ve become popular on other waterways, including the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

“St. Louis is a part of that ‘great loop,’ so it is a popular destination for these types of vessels,” Mook said.

With just 16 Ranger Tug dealerships in the U.S., Mook said Voyager sees interest from across the region, and beyond, with calls from as far away as Texas and Wisconsin.

“The Midwest has just been introduced to Ranger Tugs, and they’re selling like hotcakes,” Mook said. “They only have (a few) dealerships in the whole country, and we’re the fastest-growing one they have.”

Depending on the model, a Ranger Tug can cost anywhere from $114,000 to $850,000.

Mook said Voyager has sold out of everything it had in stock and even sold some of the boats yet to come off the production line. Depending on the model sold, it can take two to four weeks for delivery.

The tugs are popular, Mook said, as they are suited for year-round use due to being weather-controlled. They offer amenities such as heating, air conditioning, ovens, sinks and toilets inside the boat’s cabin. On the back of the tugs, fishing rod holders and grills are additional accessories.

“You just get more use out of them,” Mook said.

Dale Eberlin, owner of Eberlin Boats & Motors, said the number of boat sales at his business has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Anything to do with outdoors with the family, those types of boats were much more in demand,” Eberlin said.

Eberlin said pontoons, jet boats and river boats have been the more popular models sold. A new jet boat would start around $14,500, a new pontoon around $25,000 and a river boat, or jon boat costs $20,000 to $35,000, depending on length and additional features.

“It seemed like we might have sold more units, but the price per unit was less,” Eberlin said. “It felt like people bought what they could afford at the time instead of what they wanted.”

Depending on the accessories being ordered to outfit the boat, Eberlin said there is sometimes a four- to six-week delay in delivery.

He said it takes longer for items like trolling motors, fishing radar and some general accessories due to production slowing or shutting down at the start of the pandemic and then a high demand for those products as the summer weather started to arrive.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) reports a total of 115,000 new power boats were sold in May and June. That is a 30 percent increase in sales from the same two-month period in 2019.

Overall, new boat sales for the month of May were the highest of the past decade, the NMMA reports, and sales numbers increased by another 6 percent in June.Activities on the river appear to be pandemic-proof.

Despite the ongoing battle with COVID-19, sales are up for area boat dealers, including Voyager Yacht Sales in Villa Ridge and Eberlin Boats & Motors in Hermann.

Voyager Manager Scott Mook reported boat sales are up 75 percent so far in 2020 over the total for all of 2019.

“When this thing initially started, I thought it would trainwreck the year, but that hasn’t been the case at all,” Mook said.

Voyager specializes in the sale of Ranger Tugs, which were designed for ocean use. However, Ranger now has two dealerships in the Midwest as they’ve become popular on other waterways, including the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

“St. Louis is a part of that ‘great loop,’ so it is a popular destination for these types of vessels,” Mook said.

With just 16 Ranger Tug dealerships in the U.S., Mook said Voyager sees interest from across the region, and beyond, with calls from as far away as Texas and Wisconsin.

“The Midwest has just been introduced to Ranger Tugs, and they’re selling like hotcakes,” Mook said. “They only have (a few) dealerships in the whole country, and we’re the fastest-growing one they have.”

Depending on the model, a Ranger Tug can cost anywhere from $114,000 to $850,000.

Mook said Voyager has sold out of everything it had in stock and even sold some of the boats yet to come off the production line. Depending on the model sold, it can take two to four weeks for delivery.

The tugs are popular, Mook said, as they are suited for year-round use due to being weather-controlled. They offer amenities such as heating, air conditioning, ovens, sinks and toilets inside the boat’s cabin. On the back of the tugs, fishing rod holders and grills are additional accessories.

“You just get more use out of them,” Mook said.

Dale Eberlin, owner of Eberlin Boats & Motors, said the number of boat sales at his business has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Anything to do with outdoors with the family, those types of boats were much more in demand,” Eberlin said.

Eberlin said pontoons, jet boats and river boats have been the more popular models sold. A new jet boat would start around $14,500, a new pontoon around $25,000 and a river boat, or jon boat costs $20,000 to $35,000, depending on length and additional features.

“It seemed like we might have sold more units, but the price per unit was less,” Eberlin said. “It felt like people bought what they could afford at the time instead of what they wanted.”

Depending on the accessories being ordered to outfit the boat, Eberlin said there is sometimes a four- to six-week delay in delivery.

He said it takes longer for items like trolling motors, fishing radar and some general accessories due to production slowing or shutting down at the start of the pandemic and then a high demand for those products as the summer weather started to arrive.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) reports a total of 115,000 new power boats were sold in May and June. That is a 30 percent increase in sales from the same two-month period in 2019.

Overall, new boat sales for the month of May were the highest of the past decade, the NMMA reports, and sales numbers increased by another 6 percent in June.