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  #1  
Old 09-05-2011
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Is the sailboat market really this bad?

I have just had an unreal weekend.

My wife and I attended the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum annual boat auction. We went last year and saw some good deals on various boats. They had listed several racers that are in my club race fleets so I was in the market for a potentially cheap racer. Specifically a Comet, a couple of Lightnings and two Star boats. Last year, a Star needing serious TLC sold for $200. My wife was looking for a potential play powerboat for the river.

This year made that look good.

This is a no-reserve auction. Highest bid, no matter how low, takes it.

Most of the powerboats went for $1000-$7000. The two jet boats my wife liked, an Avon Seasport DL 400 jet RIB and a Regal 1700 jet boat sold for $6600 and $3600, respectively. Well beyond our self-imposed budget of $2000. The Avon new is a $28K boat. Lowest was a wood Chris Craft 23 that sold for $600. Guy bought it for the trailer and was going to scrap the rest. Sad.

If you were a sailor looking for your first boat or a hell of a bargain, this was your day.

Some highlights:

A clean Tanzer 22 on trailer with 7hp outboard: $250
A very clean, ready-to-sail Tanzer 22 on stands, no motor: $50
Venture 24, no trailer: $50
Venture 22, no trailer: $25 (would have sold for that, no bidders)
An almost-new looking Macgregor 26 water-ballasted sailboat with 8hp electric start outboard on trailer: $500
Restored 1938 Comet wood sailboat: $1300 (some bastard stole the boom the day before the auction)
1970s era Star #5406 on trailer, 2 sets of sails, needs some TLC: $400
Wooden 40s-era Star sailboat on trailer, needs restoration: $50
28 foot double-ender sloop, 4 cylinder diesel: $1300
Hunter 30, Yanmar diesel, needed a bath, new bottom paint, in the water in sailaway condition: $750.
Morgan 34: $7100
Columbia 9.6: $3400
30 foot wooden sloop: $5700

No, I did not leave zeroes off the ends of most of those numbers. Someone bought a mid-80s Hunter 30 with a clean Yanmar diesel for $750.

If you were looking for a first, cheap or throwaway sailboat, this was your chance. My wife and I kept looking at each other in disbelief at what some of these boats were selling for. And kicking ourselves for not buying more. I would've bought that Hunter and either took it to my local broker and sold it for 5 times that or pried the Yanmar out of it, repowered my C27 and scrapped/parted out the remainder. Would've been worth the month or two of storage costs.

Mostly, the powerboats sold reasonably well and the sailboats mostly ignored. Some oddballs were a Point Jude 14 without trailer that sold for $2800, an old Optimist hull (no rig) for $900 and two Dyer Dhow dinghies with wooden sail rigs that both fetched well north of $2000 each (one went for $2800, I don't remember the other).

I bought what I went for: Star #5406. I would've got it for $100 but someone bid us up and stopped at $400. I reflect on the fact that at the same time last year I bought my Laser for $400. This year I got a Star for the same price.

Either the sailboat market is really this bad or people just don't want boats anymore given state of the economy. Some of these boats I would have happily bought and thought nothing of donating back a year or two later, considering the costs in the meantime a cheap rental.

I'd say it was unbelievable but I was there and saw it. We couldn't pry ourselves away from what had essentially become a form of auction horror show. The Museum raised money, which is the purpose of the auction, but sad to see so many boats essentially given away. Cheaper to sell them for whatever they can get than clutter up their storage area, I guess.

Matt
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Last edited by mpickering; 09-05-2011 at 06:17 PM.
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Old 09-05-2011
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Wow. Not 150 miles away, I'm eyeing a '94 Catalina 22 that's in decent shape for 9k! No way I'll pay that much, but your numbers really make me scratch my head even more.
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Old 09-05-2011
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mpickering

All I can say is
Those are some crazy numbers($) you are talking about.

John
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Old 09-05-2011
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Not so surprising really. When you take into consideration the cost of storage and maintenance, even many boats that are in decent mechanical condition have a negative value. Sure someone might like to have a 30ft boat for $700, but that person is not likely to be capable of spending $5000 per year in storage and maintenance. The person who has the 5k per year will generally want a boat that is a little nicer. Fixing up clunkers rarely works either, as once you start putting money into the $700 clunker to fix it up, you will quickly run through whatever savings you thought you had. Sadly for many of these older boats, they are overdue for a date with a chainsaw.
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Old 09-05-2011
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Seafever looks great in this picture

The only things that worked were the bilge pump and cabin lights
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Old 09-05-2011
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Don't know whether I should cry or hurl. There were certainly some deals to be had there.
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Old 09-05-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anthemj24 View Post
The person who has the 5k per year will generally want a boat that is a little nicer. Fixing up clunkers rarely works either, as once you start putting money into the $700 clunker to fix it up, you will quickly run through whatever savings you thought you had. Sadly for many of these older boats, they are overdue for a date with a chainsaw.
Generally agreed. However, many of these boats were not one step from the salvager. The Tanzer 22s were both very nice boats, clean inside, no evidence of mold, water damage or corrosion, good bulkheads and so on. I went aboard both. Had there been a Tanzer 22 fleet in my area, I would have bought one.

I guess it depends on what you define as "clunker". The Ventures, for example, were rough. The Morgan was in great condition. I told my wife that if stayed in the price range of the Hunter, I'd take a run at it and trade up.

I see most owners doing it as labors of love. I didn't buy that Star to recoup my investment. I put $600 into my Laser and I'll put about twice that into the Star. $1500 or so to give me a high performance racer that my wife and I can enjoy for an additional $1500/year in club fees is relatively cheap fun in my book. The woman who bought the Macgregor 26 for $500 got herself a nice starter boat.
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Old 09-05-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnf777 View Post
Wow. Not 150 miles away, I'm eyeing a '94 Catalina 22 that's in decent shape for 9k! No way I'll pay that much, but your numbers really make me scratch my head even more.
See? You made his point. "No way I'll pay that much". So many buyers say the same thing when they see how soft the market is, eh?
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Old 09-05-2011
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It really is a buyer's market. I have an app on my Andriod that searches Craigslist. I watch for certain keywords; Formosa, Irwin, ketch... Things that I like and am interested in.

What I see are owners that list their boats, but then over weeks, even months, they eventually come down to what the market will pay. That is usually about 60% of what they originally wanted. Even their initial expectations are coming down, and before they sell, their prices have dropped much lower than you might expect.

Great time to buy, but a terrible time to sell. Don't think things will improve for sellers for many years to come.
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Old 09-06-2011
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Yes, the market really is that bad. It's abysmal in fact. I took a blood bath on my boat that I just sold, and the only thing that made it palatable was that I upgraded to a Pearson 30 in excellent shape, for very little money.

Like homes, if you don't own a boat but always wanted one, now is the time to buy.
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