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BUYING OLDER BOATS & MARKET TIMING
I think JeffH answers the important issues well, I have benefited from his advice on other boards.
I wanted to address the Catalina/Beneteau/Hunter issue, as I think it is a future driver of the market. First, I will say that, in my personal opinion, Hunter does not belong with C and B.
I am in the market for a 36-38ft sloop, 10-15 yrs old. I started my search quite some time ago with a blank slate, being open to boats 20yrs old and older. I seriously checked out boats from Bristol''s to Hunter''s, Morgan, Ericson, Tartan, Saber, Alberg and many more. I focused on a Pearson 36 and a Tartan 37.
If you read reviews of Catalina''s in Spin Sheet, Practical Sailor and read owners reviews, you will find very favorable write ups. I went out and surveyed a 1989 Catalina 36: strong chain plates attached to major structural member, good glass work, solid glass hull (which I prefer, Jeff may differ), fit and finish very good, interior bulkheads tabbed well, no voids in the glass, top notch fittings, no leaks etc etc and easy access to everything including fuel tank, holding tank, sea cocks etc They have a nice conservative 44% ballast/disp ratio, very good rep and excellent resale value. A good value, worth the money and a boat I could go virtually anywhere with in great comfort and confidence. I think the same would be true of a Bene or C&C (I personally lump C&C with C and B, but I don''t want to start any arguements over it).
I began to think about where would I take a Pearson 36 or Tartan 37 that I would not take a C 36. My personal answer was that I probably would not cross an ocean in any of the above, and that I would take a C 36 anyplace I would take the Pearson or Tartan. In my thinking, I could not justify the extra cost of a Pearson or Tartan over the Catalina for sailing up and down the coast, limited off shore and cruising to the islands. After that, my choice becomes influenced by personal things: cost, comfort of the interior and ease of maintenance.
SO, my take on all this is that the group of boats that many people will say are higher quality may not be able to demand higher prices in the future. I believe we are at the break point now, where the market is shifting towards "value" boats. Pearson''s are nice, but a 1989 Pearson 36 asks for a 20% higher price tag than a 1989 Catalina or Bene, a similar vintage Tartan even more. I am not sure they will get those prices this year, they may, but I don''t think the higher prices will last much longer.
When it comes to true "bluewater" boats, there is a different dynamic. But that is another thread.
Just my $0.02