Tuesday, June 28, 2011

History of Boating Surveys

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine

The Coast Guard began an informal survey process in the late ‘60s as an aid in allocating its boating safety resources. This initiative used a compilation of statistical data from various sources, including a statistical telephone survey of households in the Coast Guard’s Fifth District and an observational study of boating activities in the Chesapeake Bay.

This study revealed that 20 percent of the estimated 539,077 boat operators in the USCG Fifth District completed at least one formal boating safety course, and totaled about 76,473,600 exposure hours.

The second USCG-sponsored boating survey in 1974 collected data for the 1973 boating season. This was a national statistical survey designed with state-of-the-art methods, though based on a very small sample size—just 24,137 households.

While the household sample was too small to produce state-level boating statistics or national statistics by boat type, this survey introduced the concepts of “boat hours,” “passenger hours,” and “ratio of passenger hours per boat hour.” The statistics: boat hours were estimated at 1,549,137,000 hours; passenger hours 4,604,336,000.

The USCG conducted another national recreational boating survey in 1977 to collect 1976 boating season data. Although again small in scale (only 5,507 households), this was a well-designed statistical survey that produced broad national-level statistics on boat owners, operators, and boating activities among boating households.

Both the 1973 and 1976 surveys were weighted to yield continental U.S. estimates. For example, the 1976 survey estimated 11,322,000 recreational boats in the country with 2,255,624,000 boat hours and 7,635,246,000 passenger hours.

In 1989, the USCG issued a grant to the American Red Cross to conduct a national recreational boating survey covering the period from October 1, 1988 through September 30, 1989. This survey was based on a sample of 3,700 recreational boating participants and estimated 4,922,143,730 passenger hours per year on owned, rented, or borrowed boats during 1989 (106.78 hours per boater).

The next USCG-sponsored survey produced only national-level boating statistics. The survey came in 1998 when a Coast Guard contractor conducted another national recreational boating survey based on a sample of 9,746 recreational boating participants.

In 2002 the USCG conducted a national recreational boating survey with the goal of producing state-level statistics. This survey was based on a substantial sample of 25,000 boat operators. However, its focus on only boat operators made the use of these statistics limited.

Stay tuned to learn about the redesigned USCG survey.

For more information:
Full article is available at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/fall2010.

Subscribe online at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/subscribe.asp.