Recreational Boating — Moderated Discussion Areas

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Maxum 2000 SR3

Topic: Recreational Boating

posted 01-27-2007 11:36 AM ET (US) Preface: This discussion is somewhat out of line with our normal boating topics, but, due to the depth of winter and lack of real boating up north at this time of year, perhaps we can indulge these stray thoughts of mine.

I have to begin by saying that I am not a socialist. In fact, among the people I work with—a fairly broad spectrum of individuals—I am perceived as being the most conservative of the group. But even with that perspective to my point of view, I have to make the following observations.

Back in the 1980’s when I was in my thirties, it seemed like boats were more affordable and there were more affordable boats. We used to seriously think about buying a brand new 30-foot sailboat, and you could get a darn nice one for around $50,000. I am sure there were similar boats for the small power boat market.

When I look at the recreational boating business today, I don’t even seen anybody in the $50,000 sailboat business anymore. A new 30-foot sailboat costs about $150,000, and it is well beyond the means of most working people in their thirties. We’ve got a lot more income now than we did in our thirties, but a $150,000 new boat is out of the question, whereas before, a $50,000 new boat was maybe a possibility.

Power boats seem to have become similarly priced. The Boston Whaler that is most like my old classic REVENGE 22 W-T WD is probably the 235 CONQUEST. That is a nice boat, but, good heavens, it costs $70,000 base price! I think that is probably out of the price range of a lot of people in their thirties.

At the other end of the spectrum, there apparently are more people than ever in history who can afford luxury yachts. I get a freebie magazine which is really a monthly FOR-SALE listing of luxury yachts. Browsing this magazine is an astonishing experience. Every month there are feature stories on huge, complex, and extraordinarily expensive yachts which have just been built or launched. These things are now routinely being built in the $30-million range and up. Yachts like this were once counted on the fingers of two hands and were owned only by wealthy royal families or robber-barons. Yet in the back of the magazine are a hundred pages of listings for two or three year old luxury 75-footers whose owners are moving to a bigger boat and want to sell.

I used to browse through boating magazines and dream about boats. Now those were not just pie-in-the-sky daydreams. I mean I really could have afforded some of those boats back then, if I had really wanted to commit the resources to one. However, I no longer can browse through a boating magazine and entertain a reasonable dream state when I see a 30-foot power boat that costs $375,000.

Whatever happened to the America where a guy who worked hard and liked to fish could get a decent boat and have some fun? What I see now is a recreational boating market where there are fewer people in the middle range. Yes, there are more people in the top ranges, but I do not think that is a good indication of the overall health of recreational boating. One $35,000,000 luxury yacht might keep a boat shed going for three years with 100 people at work, but I don’t think it contributes as much to the overall recreational boating business as you could get if those same 100 people worked for three years and turned out $35,000,000 worth of 170 MONTAUKS.

Even at $25,000 per MONTAUK, $35,000,000 goes a long way. You get 1,400 MONTAUKS on the water instead of just one luxury yacht. If recreational boating is going to survive as a business and as a sporting activity, it needs a lot more people who can afford a new MONTAUK instead of one new rich guy who has $35,000,000 to spend on a super yacht.

The next time the free-subscription reminder comes around for the yacht magazine, I think I will opt out. I getting sick of seeing the excess money people have to spend on mega-yachts, while at the same time a new Boston Whaler MONTAUK is out of the price range of most people.

If this trend keeps up, there won’t be any recreational boating after another generation. There will just be an elite fleet of luxury yachts and a couple of old Joe’s fishing in 14-foot aluminum skiffs.

Has anyone else noticed this?

posted 01-27-2007 11:59 AM ET (US) JimH —

Maxum 21

Sad but true.

I grew up boating in the 60’s and 70’s. $1,000 a foot was the rule of thumb. Dad’s 1969 38′ Post Sportfisher listed for about $28,000. Then Dad added a bunch of options and got her up to $35,000. We cruised all of New England and down to Chesapeake Bay.

The 1977 42′ Post (Dad’s next boat), without all the options went for about $125,000. That boat cruised the East Coast.

Regardless. My 1990 Revenge 22 W/T is disappointing in one aspect — she’s not a cruising machine. Those days are over and my girls missed the adventure of going places and overnighting and being somewhere new each day.



posted 01-27-2007 12:02 PM ET (US) Jimh

Its my opinion that the old saying holds true. the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class is shrinking. Some middle class has migrated to the rich, and some to the poor. This is the way of many South American countries, and maybe the way this country is headed.

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