Re: The future of the sailing world. Why are there so few young people cruising??
I'll give my nickel's worth (I am in Canada and we just jettisoned the penny, so my thoughts' values have increased five-fold...).
I got into sailing when I was in my 40s. Prior to that it was a combination of career, kids, and building the kitty. So those folks who got into sailing in their teens or twenties are just plain fortunate and (always) in the minority.
Cost is always a factor, and not just when buying a boat. The annual costs can be considerable and two items, in particular, may well contribute disproportionately. In spite of growing populations everywhere, the rules and regulations involved in constructing a new marina to accomodate any growing demand are such that it takes deep pockets to even consider buildiing a new one. I don't think a new marina has been started on the Canadian Great Lakes in the last 20 years, and expansion of existing ones has been marginal. We all know what happens when you limit supply... it becomes a sellers' market and prices rise accordingly.
Add to that the increasing minimum requirements to insure a boat merely for sitting in a dock somewhere and you have just raised the bar a little again.
Some of the comments here also point to the increased complexity of contemporary vessels, and the expectations of their owners. My first boat, though a fine Tayana 37 which I still regret selling had (1) no fridge, (2) no self-tailing winches, (3) no Loran-C (in those days, precursor of GPS for the younger crowd) (4) only a manual windlass... You get the point. Perhaps boat dealers have a sense of what "younger" purchasers consider minimum requirements when buying and judge to what extent expectations may be limiting our supply of new sailors (if, indeed, there is a decline in numbers...)
I am not a handyman and curse myself for that shortcoming which only adds to my costs when I have to pay my (well-appreciated) marina technicians, but is it also possible that in this day of everything-computer our kids have less desire or skill to fix things - something that a young sailor most definitely would benefit from?
Over to you all...