Some wealthy families are spending the holidays on private boats at sea to avoid a second wave of the virus.
Fort Lauderdale-based Eddie Rodriguez, a 65-year-old retired yacht owner, is one who is dreaming of anything but a white Christmas. He’ll be anchored in the Florida Keys, a change of scenery from his usual Christmas gathering with around 50 of his relatives pre-pandemic. Being separated from family is not ideal, Rodriguez admits to FOXBusiness, but in the age of the coronavirus, he doesn’t want to risk it.
The former restaurant chain owner will now be at the helm of a 55-foot 2018 Sea Ray 550 Fly yacht he purchased for a little over $2 million. While that’s considered downsizing for him, it’s not compromising on luxury. The boat is equipped with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a wine cooler he plans to stock with champagne, a barbecue and Wi-Fi for his immediate family.
"It’s a condo on the water," Rodriguez says. "It makes it easier to tell the rest of the family members that we’re not doing anything at the house," he explained, of safeguarding against big gatherings while also not missing the boat on an opportunity to literally sail off into the sunset.
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The year 2020 has hardly been smooth sailing for Americans spending most of the year isolated, working remotely, or trying to find a job. And to spark some joy – or at least, perhaps, to have no excuses for getting outside – boat sales continue to rise among with people registering, particularly around the holidays as the mercury drops.
New data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association found that powerboat retail sales gained momentum for the second consecutive month in October, up 18% compared to September and up 11% year-to-date, the most recent stats available. And with more than 291,000 new boats sold for the year-to-date, the NMMA estimates that around 310,000 will sell by the end of 2020.
What's more, boat ownership among first-time buyers comprised 31% of new boat sales through September, making up the majority (90%) of 2020’s uptick in sales, according to boating news trade publication Trade Only Today.