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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum > Why so few new boats under 30ft?
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Thread: Why so few new boats under 30ft? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
06-12-2011 02:40 PM
asdf38 I think the problems with the middle class come down to just a couple things. First is that technology has produced so many things for the middle class to spend money on. More things exist to buy today than in the 60's and 70's (big screen tv, cable tv bills, ipads, computers, ipods, etc. etc.). And this is most pronounced in medical care which is probably the biggest change for the middle class since the 60's and 70's. You don't need to get too political about it, the fact is that there are so many (usually beneficial) ways to spend money on healthcare, treatments, cat scans, drugs, etc today than there were 40 years ago it can practically explain the problems of the middle class by itself (to the extent that they exist). That's my take on the politics but I don't think the reason lies here because simple population growth guarantees that there are plenty of people who could buy a small boat.

The next reason is that technology has brought a constant creep in standards (as other people have mentioned) towards bigger and better, which is ok, but with it the ability to enjoy simpler things has left. My fathers parents used to cruise with a family of 7 on a 23 foot boat before settling on a 29 foot boat which they thoroughly enjoyed (and they could have afforded larger). Today a family of 7 that could afford a 29 foot boat would never get it because they'd consider it too small. They'd either forgo the boat altogether or stretch for something much larger because of the creep of standards.

And of course the other simpler reason is (as many others have pointed out) the huge number of quality boats that exist in this size range. Boats simply don't wear out like other goods and are rarely scrapped (and usually only are after decades of use). It's a tough business to be in when you are competing against your own products from 10, 20, 30 years ago.
06-11-2011 05:31 PM
WDS123 True
05-11-2011 12:46 PM
merc2dogs Some is economics, the manufacturing costs of a smaller boat is much larger percentage of retail price than it is for larger ones. So manufacturers see a larger return on the bigger boats.

Labor costs on a 25 footer will be very close to those of a 30 footer, and there isn't really a huge difference in the equipment required.
05-11-2011 12:16 PM
benajah
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaLifeSailing View Post
Btw, regarding the comment that a mid-30's modern production boat looks like it only cost 50K, that comment really needs to be re-thought.

My 1981 boat has a steering wheel that lists for $750 with a $250 suede wrapper on it. My engine new, would cost $12,000. We are now at $13,000 for a motor and a steering wheel. A new Genoa? $3500. A mainsail? $2500.00 Two primary winches? $1500 each. Now we're at $22,000 for two sails, two out of say, 5 winches, a steering wheel with no place to put it, and a motor sitting in a crate with no driveshaft, stuffing box, or propeller. We're missing a hull, through hulls, a binnacle, a fridge, sink, head, cushions, oh heck, the parts list is pretty long.

Get your hands on a wholesale price list for marine parts and then walk around a sailboat. On a sailboat in the 36' range You will find about a quarter of a million dollars worth of high-priced marine gear, all assembled and installed by hand.
That was a comment that I made, but I think it is slightly misunderstood. What I intended to say was that the production cost was at a $50K level when you look at the actual cost to the individual companies who produced the parts, and the assembly company. Once you start tacking on profit and fee for all the parts companies as they change hands going up the value chain to be assembled is where the price goes up.
Thats a big reason why WalMart can sell stuff so cheap. Few to no middlemen in the supply chain.
05-10-2011 10:12 PM
SeaLifeSailing
Couldn't agree more

I spend a pile of time on the water, and have owned a heap of different boats. Most of my sailing students come to the course ready to buy a boat. Usually their expectations are skewed because as first-time aspiring boat owners, they simply don't have an adequate grasp of how much money it costs to own, maintain and operate a boat. Moreover, most people don't get how quickly not only the costs, but the forces multiply as the size of the sailboat increases. At a reasonably young and fit 42 year-old whose spent his life in athletic condition, my 36' sailboat is at the absolute limit of what I can comfortably single-hand in rough weather. Anything bigger, and there's simply too much force involved.

Sailing on a friend's 44' C&C was delightful for all of the living space, but the owner, a former boat builder, lifelong sailor and cruising instructor for over 20 years, and 7x Vic-Maui veteran, admitted that his boat is absolutely beyond his and his wife's ability to sail without crew in moderate conditions. In my foul-weather gear, performing most of the heavy work during a 1 week cruise, there were jobs I did that should have taken 2-3 fit people, and I was frequently drenched in perspiration.

Most people who purchase a boat over 36 feet for their first vessel, wind up motoring, with the sail covers on, because they have simply purchased too much boat for their level of experience. The reality is that most people who cruise for more than a few days at a time, do so as couples. Most of the long-distance cruising couples I have met who own boats in the 30' range are glad they don't have more boat. If I didn't teach on my vessel, and just sailed with friends, I would cheerfully downsize to a 30' boat. All I really need to cruise on multi-week trips, is stand-up headroom. More boat length simply equals greater expense.

I know without a doubt that my fiancee and I would be just fine on multi-week cruises on a 30' boat, even with occasional guests along. Most of the people I've met who gave up on sailing after just a few years of boat ownership, started with much bigger boats than they might have. Had they started with something more manageable, they mights still be enjoying time on the water.

Just remember: buying a boat is like paying the cover charge for admission at a nightclub; now the expenses really begin - coatcheck, dinner, drinks, tips, taxi home. The price of admission is the cheap part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RhythmDoctor View Post
Everyone is different, so no one piece of advice fits everyone. An awful lot depends on your personal commitments - do you have kids, what age, are you retired or work full time, and - most importantly - how often are you going to go out on the boat for 3-15 nights at a time? (Oops, I now see that your kids may be out of college, which could put you strongly in the cruisers category.)

A lot of people will tell you to go bigger because you'll end up doing that anyway. I went through the same process as you and placed unsuccessful offers on several 32 footers last year. Then it suddently dawned on me that our lifestyle would allow us to go away for a 1 week cruise once a year AT MOST. We were mainly going to be doing full-day sails, so the only real requirement was for an enclosed head. So I downsized my expectations to a pocket cruiser, and decided we'd charter any time we wanted to go for several nights at a time (which we still have not had time to do yet.)

What did I get for my smaller boat?
  • A newer boat that was ready to sail at time of purchase, but still less money than any of the larger boats we were looking at
  • A lot less maintenance and headaches (but still plenty of work)
  • A boat that is easier to get in and out of the marina
  • No regrets that we're not using the boat enough to justify the expense
  • A boat that can be easily kept close to home instead of having to drive 1-2 hours for open waters

Everyone's different - but this is my thinking. At this point in my life, I'm glad I didn't get the 30-34 footer.
05-10-2011 09:39 PM
SeaLifeSailing
Smaller production boats

There are definitely a lot of factors in play here. But as has been pointed out, the middle class are in quite a bit of distress right now. There's also a huge pile of used-boat inventory on the market, really inexpensively priced right now. When a family has to choose between paying their mortgage or their moorage, you can bet which one will win. So those boats are dumped well below reasonable, fair value. Who needs to buy a new boat for $150k when you can buy the same boat with some use, for a fraction of the price.

New boat buyers are generally affluent enough not to care about trivial details like depreciation, and those with spare cash these days, generally have lots of it, and thus aren't on the market for a small cruising boat.

So instead of lamenting the lack of new, midsized cruising boats, why not enjoy today's bargain-basement prices. Pick up the used boat you want, for a tiny fraction of what it's really worth.

Btw, regarding the comment that a mid-30's modern production boat looks like it only cost 50K, that comment really needs to be re-thought.

My 1981 boat has a steering wheel that lists for $750 with a $250 suede wrapper on it. My engine new, would cost $12,000. We are now at $13,000 for a motor and a steering wheel. A new Genoa? $3500. A mainsail? $2500.00 Two primary winches? $1500 each. Now we're at $22,000 for two sails, two out of say, 5 winches, a steering wheel with no place to put it, and a motor sitting in a crate with no driveshaft, stuffing box, or propeller. We're missing a hull, through hulls, a binnacle, a fridge, sink, head, cushions, oh heck, the parts list is pretty long.

Get your hands on a wholesale price list for marine parts and then walk around a sailboat. On a sailboat in the 36' range You will find about a quarter of a million dollars worth of high-priced marine gear, all assembled and installed by hand.

In any event, for those who aren't fabulously wealthy, or putting a boat into a charter fleet, I simply can't understand purchasing a new boat.

I ran into a fellow last week who recently purchased a roughly 40' Moody. This boat was clearly a bit older, but it was clear that someone had LAVISHED money on the boat. After chatting a bit, it turns out the new owner had bought the vessel from a very wealthy individual. In 2006 alone, the previous owner had spent $120K on the vessel, and somewhere in the ballpark of half a million dollars in the last 10 years. The boat was purchased for $125K.

The lesson? Skip the new boat that needs $30K in goods from the chandelry; Buy a good used boat from a wealthy person!!! The drawers on my boat came packed with valuable equipment purchased specifically for this vessel. Long live the redistribution of wealth through the purchase of used gear, well below purchase price.
05-06-2011 04:52 PM
BoxedUp
Quote:
Originally Posted by RhythmDoctor View Post
Everyone is different, so no one piece of advice fits everyone.
That is so true and it's great to hear everyone's comments on the forum to get a different take on a situation. Glad you finally obtained what fits into your plans!
05-06-2011 04:32 PM
TakeFive
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoxedUp View Post
...I'm still looking to purchase my first sailboat but when I started, I thought that a 28 would be fine. After experience on bigger boats, I thought a 30 would be the ideal boat. After more experience, I'm now set on a 32. If I wait any longer to buy a boat, I'll probably wind up on a 36 or even a 42 and will be living on it since I will lose the house in the divorce settlement.....
Everyone is different, so no one piece of advice fits everyone. An awful lot depends on your personal commitments - do you have kids, what age, are you retired or work full time, and - most importantly - how often are you going to go out on the boat for 3-15 nights at a time? (Oops, I now see that your kids may be out of college, which could put you strongly in the cruisers category.)

A lot of people will tell you to go bigger because you'll end up doing that anyway. I went through the same process as you and placed unsuccessful offers on several 32 footers last year. Then it suddently dawned on me that our lifestyle would allow us to go away for a 1 week cruise once a year AT MOST. We were mainly going to be doing full-day sails, so the only real requirement was for an enclosed head. So I downsized my expectations to a pocket cruiser, and decided we'd charter any time we wanted to go for several nights at a time (which we still have not had time to do yet.)

What did I get for my smaller boat?
  • A newer boat that was ready to sail at time of purchase, but still less money than any of the larger boats we were looking at
  • A lot less maintenance and headaches (but still plenty of work)
  • A boat that is easier to get in and out of the marina
  • No regrets that we're not using the boat enough to justify the expense
  • A boat that can be easily kept close to home instead of having to drive 1-2 hours for open waters

Everyone's different - but this is my thinking. At this point in my life, I'm glad I didn't get the 30-34 footer.
05-06-2011 04:12 PM
BoxedUp
Quote:
Originally Posted by arknoah View Post
It's funny. You're saying that (saving by "paying yourself first -- then buying) like it's a bad thing. Sounds absolutely right to me.
Ditto, that's how my kids college educations were paid. Started saving when they were born so would have the money when it came time to send them off to college. Not that I wouldn't do it all over, but it gets me that those that don't save (not the ones that legitimately can't afford to) get low interest loans and even financial aid assistance for college and live in big lavish houses and have huge yachts....sorry, getting off topic.
05-06-2011 03:57 PM
motion300 In the 3 years I have lived aboard, most of the crusiers I have met have been middle aged or older and in a 39' boat
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