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  #1  
Old 03-25-2007
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Used Boat Search

I am in the market for a used racer/cruiser sailboat in the 29-33 ft range for our family, and have noticed a peculiarity in both the local (Michigan) and entire Great Lakes region when searching the used boat markets. It is very easy to find boats 20-30 years old, and not too hard to find a new, or nearly new boat, but finding a boat in the most used boat listing in the 5-15 year-old range is nearly impossible. Could anyone shed a light on this? I am looking for a used boat primarily because I don't want to take that initial depreciation hit, and want to take advantage of someone else outfitting a boat with all the common extras, but don't really have time to refurbish a 30 year old boat at this time. I have been wandering around all the postings on this site for 6 months or more, and appreciate all the great advice, like searching YachtWorld and other sites, and what to look for in a used boat, but there is a huge gap in boats of the 90's vintage. Is this just because they were great boats and are not being sold? Are they too new to hit the used boat market in any numbers? Are they being sold in other ways? While I have seen a number of apparently well treated older boats, and would not be unhappy with a 20 year old boat that has been taken care of, I just wonder if I am missing something about the 5-15 year old boat market, or if it is really that small. Thanks.
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Old 03-25-2007
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Here's another resource you might not have ...... http://sailquest.com/market/
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Old 03-25-2007
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Paddy-I think you answered your own question when you said that you don't want to take the initial hit of depreciation. Neither does anyone else. So, the boats in the 5-15 year range are being coveted. If you buy a 5 year old boat, it still has good sails, rigging, and motor. you buy it, keep it for ten years, then buy your next boat when that one is worn out, instead of replacing things. IMHO.
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Old 03-25-2007
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The "second golden age of sail" was from about 1973 to maybe 1986. A huge number of fibreglass boats were built in that era. Then manufacturer found that the market was flooded with 10 year old boats that were just about as good as new and a lot cheaper. This killed new boat sales so many companies went out of business. From about 90 on the new boats sales have been much lower volumes so that likely explains the shortage of them.

You can find boats from the 80s with a good diesel inboard that have been looked after and maybe not used a lot that are very good purchases.

Gary

Last edited by Gary M; 03-25-2007 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 03-25-2007
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Pd-
You'll also find that new boat sales went down, in the late 80's and stayed down for a while because of Congress's genious "luxury tax" on boats $100k and above at that time. And the changing costs of petroleum affect fiberglass resin prices which affect boat prices, so there are times when new boat sales were simply so much higher that fewer boats got made--and fewer available from those years.
There are also years when there have been a lot of storm losses, "culling" a lot of old boats and forcing used prices up, and new sales up for owners who replaced them the following year. Since the boat-building market is relatively small (something like 3,000-5000 total new boats in the 24-60 foot range in a typical year?) anything that impacts a couple of hundred boats, is already a 10% market change.
Remember the "dot com" boom? Good for boat sales. And the bust, and stock market plummet? Equally bad for boat sales for a couple of years. Those could be the 10-year-old boats you are looking for, never built or sold.
FWIW in the past ten years I'd seen used prices seem to go down, then hold, then swing back UP in the last five. It is very much a changing market, you just have to make do with what is out there.
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Old 03-25-2007
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In sum:
1) market was filled between 1970 and 1990...the used market cannibalized the new market, so that only victims of "footitis" (35 to 50) bought new boats.
2) recession and changing tastes killed a lot of builders, even the mighty C&C.
3) cost of production due to rising resin prices in the '80s trimmed profits and led *in some cases* to shoddier, skimpier lay-up schedules, which gave the perception in some model lines (Hunter, for instance) that the boats were poorly made or corner-cut too much.
4) demographics meant that the pre-Baby Boomers and Boomers who bought boats in their 30s and 40s weren't present in the post-Boomer period in great enough number to sustain the market. Now those original owners are 60s-70s (just look around any club) and are finally parting with those old '70s boats because they are swallowing the anchor or buying a trawler that is more geezer-friendly.

The demographic thing has benefited me twice now. I'm 45, which makes me a tail-end boomer or a greybeard Gen-Xer, depending on who you ask. My wife is 33 and there simply aren't very many people her age around. I bought my first boat, a 33-footer, in 1999 for $23,000, bargained down from $31,000. The previous owners, about five years older than me, bought it in 1985 for $38,000 and it sold for $40,000 in 1973(!). I got an estimate from a surveyor in December for insurance purposes, and after about $10,000 of repairs, replacements and upgrades (including portlight replacement, retabbing, deck core rehab, backing plates everywhere and a rebuilt engine), the boat is worth ...$20,000. I don't regret this, because it's a stronger, safer boat now. But as an investment, it stinks!

However, we just bought a 1988 41 foot custom steel pilothouse for $125,000. It needs about ten grand of electronics upgrades and ten grand of engine work and structural changes (a hatch cut, some weld jobs, and a shower stall built in). Not a big deal. But I bought it from a guy who bought it in 2002 intended to sail around the world...and didn't...and *he* bought it from the commissioning owner, who intended to sail around the world...and didn't, because he got too old. The boat is valued at $150,000, but would cost $350,000-$450,000 to replace, due to construction quality, materials, labour, etc.

Go figure that one out.

All this blather is meant to make you think that maybe a '90s boat isn't going to be a bargain, and that the market is very good for good, old 30 footers that around PHRF racers. There's a large segment of retirees with decent smaller cruisers from 1984 back (and 1984 is when some companies started to skimp) that need TLC and (frequently) electric redos and gate-valve thru-hull tear out and other modernizations, but it needn't be a huge job, and in many cases can be done in stages.

I've mentioned the great 1977 Pearson 30 a friend picked up last year for $10,000: at that price, new running rigging and sails, a new charger and AGM batteries were pretty much no-brainers...and now he's got a very nice lake cruiser capable of saltwater coastal cruising as well.
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Old 03-25-2007
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Valiente-
" My wife is 33 and there simply aren't very many people her age around."
Is that because The Pill came around in the 60's? Or just because folks her age have been, silently, moving out and relocating?
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Okay, I like the other replies better. Plus, I am a sucker for history.
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Old 03-25-2007
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Thanks - this helps explain several reasons for the relative dirth of 90's boats. A good, but maybe older, boat may be just the right thing for me at this time. Appreciate the suggestions and information.
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Old 03-26-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor
Valiente-
" My wife is 33 and there simply aren't very many people her age around."
Is that because The Pill came around in the 60's? Or just because folks her age have been, silently, moving out and relocating?
Joking aside, yes, it's because the Pill came around and a lot of the people born during or immediately after the Second World War were done with breeding by the early '70s. At least in Canada, the birthrate took a nosedive at that time, and it led to school closings in the '80s. It started earlier, though. In Grade 9 for me, in 1975, my high school was one of the biggest in the country with 3,100 students. By the time I graduated in 1980, it had 1,900.

By contrast, you can always find a 50 year old in this town.
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