Panbo at five, fun with demographics


Five years ago today my first Panbo entry entered cyberspace, and some 1,300 entries later I could hardly be more pleased about how the site has evolved.  It arguably has become “The” marine electronics blog that founder Yme Bosma envisioned, and that’s largely because such a boat load of readers visit on a regular basis.  According to StatCounter, Panbo topped 90,000 unique visitors in March, and according to Google Analytics about 27,000 of those visited more than 25 times during that month.  Wow, and thank you, thank you, thank you all!  And now, thanks to the MTA Survey, here’s a bit about who you are…

I guess it’s no big surprise that 97% of the people who took the survey are male.  Despite our efforts at gender neutrality (my daughter’s slightly embarrassing take on that subject here), it’s generally boys who fall hard for trucks, boats, and gadgets…and then become mature gentlemen who care about marine electronics.  66% of the 700+ survey takers willing to share their age are Baby Boomers, born between 1942 and 1961.  Or to use a finer-tuned demographic definition, 33% are in Boomer cohort #1 (46-54) and 32% in #2 (55-65), while 25% fit into Generation X (65-80) and a mere 2% into Y (81-2001).
   Very few of the 950 survey takers were shy about their boats.  Between them they own more than 1,400 “primary” vessels, 44% of which are cruising sailboats and 38% motorboats with cabins.  20% of all those boats are 40-49′ long, 31% 30-39′, and 28% 15-29′.  Over 80% of these owner/operators put more than 250 miles on their vessels last year, 27% over 1,000. That’s over 30 days of at least short trips for 78% of the respondents, over 100 for 20%.  I could go on and on but, darn it, I’m going to spend time today prepping Gizmo for launching because I’d like to catch up with some of you in terms of boat days.
    But please do let me know what aspects of the survey you’d like to know more about, as frankly I’m a bit overwhelmed by the data.  And while I’m thanking Panbo readers, how about three cheers for all the manufacturers who support this site with advertising and also by loaning equipment for testing and even participating in discussions that sometimes get a bit combative!  Thanks to all.


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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

19 Responses

  1. Terry says:

    Congrats! Keep up the great work Ben, always something to learn on Panbo – whether it be gear articles or reader feedback / involvement.
    Good stuff.

  2. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Ben, five years, way to go !
    As a sailboat owner myself, I was surprised at the % of respondants that were sailboat owners. Surprised because there are many more powerboats than sailboats in the world.
    Your thoughts ?
    Does MTA have any thoughts as to the validity of comparing any of the survey answers on a sailboats vs. powerboats basis ?
    Any chance your data shows that sailboat owners are more or less likely to buy electronics gear in the next year ? More or less likely to purchase a chartplotter or AIS in the next year ?

  3. Kees says:

    Hey Dan,
    “…because there are many more powerboats than sailboats in the world.” shows your cultural bias. In the rest of the world fuel is much more expensive so whilst there may be a fair number of displacement speed motorboats actual powerboats are quite rare.
    In fact you’ve triggered me to do some internet digging. According to the data I found (in dutch: )
    the distribution amongst the 162.000 boats that are kept in the water (as opposed to boats that are stored on land) in the Netherlands is:
    47% cabin sailboats
    33% cabin motorboats
    8% open sailboats
    9% open motorboats
    2% flat bottomed sailboats
    1% ‘other’
    Admittedly just a different cultural bias…

  4. Reed Erskine says:

    Has it only been 5 years? I’m sure I’ve been mystified by marine electronics for longer than that, but it seems like Panbo has always been there prodding me toward understanding this obscure and expensive preoccupation. The energy and imagination of Panbo and its contributors lures me back even when my comprehension of the subject matter wanes.

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Reed! I guess 5 years doesn’t seem like long given that you and I were fooling around with monkeys nearly 50 years ago.
    Kees, I think you have a good point, except that 84% of the survey respondents are from the U.S. or Canada. Panbo readership is actually more international than that — the US & CA were 62% for March (with NL #5) — but I guess we didn’t do enough reaching out to foreign readers.
    I think the reason sailors are strongly represented in the survey is that they tend to pay more attention to navigation and gear matters. Please note that I’m speaking in generalities only!

  6. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    I am a biased and blustering sail-boating addict, but I deny any cultural bias.
    I have done a fair amount of international traveling and have to say I have yet to be in a reasonably populated coastal city (read BVI doesn’t count) where the motorboats didn’t outnumber the sailboats. I don’t doubt the opposite exists somewhere, but I have been to a lot of cities. At the extreme end there are parts of Asia where sailboats are so terribly rare I struggle to even find one, for example in Hong Kong; Shanghai, China; or JeJu Island, Korea.
    I have even been to Qingdao, China (Sailing Venue for 2008 Olympics), lots of sailboats, but even then lots more motorboats.

  7. says:

    Congrats, glad you took over 5 years ago! Too much interesting stuff that I would have missed otherwise;-)

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Yme. Much appreciated. If you ever want to get back in the game, maybe Kees Verrujit would let you profile his boat project. I sense that it’s geekilious, though it has maybe also slowed down his blogging:

  9. jorgen vinding, denmark says:

    Dear Panbo
    I am reading your WEB side every day.
    I enjoy your articles and feel myself very updated on new marine electronics in a way i never have been befor.
    Thank you
    Jorgen vinding

  10. says:

    I’ve just finished a 6-month refit of my boat, now it’s time for sailing;-)

  11. Lenny Rudow says:

    Hey Ban – any data on how your readers break down by use categories? IE fishers vs. cruisers?

  12. SanderO says:

    That’s great news. Thanks so much for this informative site and articles… and to your well versed readers who comment here. This site is a real treasure and I stop by every day!
    Let’s see you top the first 5 years! That will be hard, but you’ll do it. Good luck with Gizmo and her gizmos.

  13. steverow says:

    Hi Ben,
    Happy Birthday to you and Panbo.
    Although there are some good Boating sites in the UK,YBW,, none are what I would call Industry Based sites like this, where CEO’s/other staff of companies will come on and take issue on their products and services.
    Ive learnt a lot from this site since I discovered it on my retun to boating after a two year break.
    I think I’d have to take issue with Dan over the Sail/Mobo split. I think there are about 300,000 sailboats and 200,000 Mobo’s and assorted others in GB. Thats out of a figure of about a million plus people who regularly participate in water activities.
    I’ll check with the RYA for the exact figures sometime and let you know.
    We MOBO’s have been hit hard recently in Blightey
    with the loss of the Red Diesel Tax derogation, enforced by the EU,which according to legend was introduced by Winston Churchill as a thank you to all the “little ships” who participated in the Dunkerque evacuation in WW2.
    With road fuel now at an all time high of �1.20 per litre diesel it’s becoming harder all the time to justify running a big mobo…one of the reasons I downsized.
    I’d be interested to know what your UK figures are.
    Kind regards

  14. Fred says:

    Congratulations with the first 5 years!
    I have to check your site every day to see if there are any interesting new products, tests or articles you write
    Keep on the good work!
    Kind Regards
    Fred, Norway

  15. Dave says:

    The industry itself will tell you that sales of Monod outnumber sailboats by 2 to 1

  16. Bruno says:

    Congrats Ben,
    I found Panbo about an year ago and I read everyday.
    I am curious about what are the big power boat owners (40 and over) priorities and willings.
    Not my case, a GPS and a sounder is enough for my boat. But I think big, small, sail and powerboats willings comparisons would be great.
    Bruno, Brazil

  17. Mark Knaus says:

    Hey Folks, just stumbled onto your site while searching the Raymarine site for a Schematic of my 22 year old Autohelm ST 7000. It’s a great unit and I love it. Unfortunatelly it is only steering to port lately and I suspect that the culprits are the big output transistors, but can’t tell for sure without a schematic or trouble shooting guide.
    Can any one help or point me in the right direction?
    Great site. Tried to register but I don’t have an URL. I’m just a sailor enjoying cruising.
    Regards to all, from Key West, Fl
    Mark Knaus

  18. Terry says:

    Mark – Those transistors are easily enough obtained, I would replace the set of them given the pilots age. Check with a local electronics supply house, like Active Electronics.
    It’s quicker than trying to track down a schematic of that unit – and the cost for those parts is not much. If that doesn’t fix it up – then that PCB is not a hard one to work with, I believe it’s a single layer board. A meter, some common sense and a little paitence should get you through the circuit.

  19. Kees says:

    Good advice was given already — just try replacing the output FETs or transistors.
    Do note however that the designed life span of customer electronic components is 25 or so years. The spread can be very significant. In other words, all silicon integrated circuits are susceptible to aging. Just like rubber becomes hard & gets poreous, ICs including transistors and such are susceptible to various effects such as migration of atoms. These can cause the electrical characteristics to change to such a level that the circuit becomes instable. For instance it may cause the impedance of the circuit to change, causing it to use more power, heat up more and then fail because of overheating.
    Just maybe it is time to say goodbye and buy new. ‘s good for the economy as well 😉

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