Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What Are These People Smoking?

Apparently the Recreational Boating Industry in the USA is trying to encourage people to take up boating by comparing the cost of boating with other activities such as golf, hunting or going to watch professional sports. They have developed an online cost comparison tool. Below is a screen shot from this tool, showing the first step in the process" "SELECT YOUR PREFERRED COST OF A BOAT."


Your choices for cost of a boat range from $10,000 to $100,000!!!!!

What are these people thinking?

Are they trying to frighten people away from boating?

I have over my 30+ years as a recreational boater bought eight eleven boats, I think, and I have never spent anywhere near $10,000 on a boat.

Let's look at a few examples of boats you could buy to enjoy boating as a recreation.

New Laser - $6,065

New Sunfish - $4,265

New Hobie Wave - $5,499

But of course you don't need to buy new. Our local Craigslist has second-hand Lasers of various ages listed from $650 to $1800 and Sunfish from $450 to $2250.

And if sailing isn't your thing, I see that our local kayak dealer has all manner of used kayaks listed from $500 to $2700.

Of course I know you could spend $10,000 or $100,000 on a boat.

You could spend $800,000,000 too. If you really wanted a yacht that is $536 ft long with 2 helicopter pads, 24 guest cabins, 2 swimming pools, assorted hot tubs, a disco hall and a mini-submarine. So what?

If you are trying to persuade people to take up boating by giving them tips about boat buying on a budget and showing them that boating is no more expensive than camping or motorcycling for example, why would you perpetuate the myth that you have to spend something between $10,000 and $100,000 to buy a decent boat?

What are these people smoking?


JP said...

Not a site I know: is it by any chance funded by advertising from companies selling boats in the range $ 10,000 - 100,000?

Tillerman said...

Great question JP. That was my first assumption. But the website with this tool Discover Boating is managed by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA.) And the NMMA website says that its Boat Manufacturer Division "consists of business entities that manufacture or import boats and represents the full spectrum of recreational boats, from row boats and canoes to inboard cruisers and mega-yachts."

So something more subtle is going on here. Are they for some reasons deliberately trying to push boats in that $10-100,000 range?

Another thought…there's quite a lot of discussion on the Discover Boating website about loans for boat purchases, so my cynical mind starts to wonder if this campaign is really about pushing boat loans. I guess the average buyer of a new or secondhand kayak doesn't get financing for their purchase?

I really don't know.

O Docker said...

This reflects the sad reality of new boat prices. You can't get much more than a beach boat for under $10,000. A new Catalina 18 is almost $20,000.

The boat industry seems to be a metaphor for what's happening to our economy as the rich get richer and the working dude is less able to afford many of the comforts that his parents could.

It looks like the only boats selling well now are beach boats and megayachts.

There are lots of boats available used for less than $10,000 - maybe more now than in a long while due to the economy - but the folks who build new boats probably don't want us to know about them.

Tillerman said...

Kayaks and beach cats and singlehanded sailboats can all be bought new for well under $10,000. My guess is that the volume (number of individual boats) of sales of boats under $10,000 far exceeds that of boats over $10,000. More people are taking up boating by buying a boat for $5,000 or $2,000 or $500 than are buying new Catalina 18s and their ilk.

To the extent that I care about having a lot of people enjoying recreational boating, I can't help thinning that the best strategy is to get them started in little cheap boats. Some will like cheap little boats and still be sailing them 30 years later. Some will migrate to something a bit bigger as their appetites and incomes increase.

From the age of 10 to my early 30s I had this urge to take up boating. I really couldn't afford to spend even $1000 on a boat in those years. Once I had got established in my career and bought a car and a house and got married and had a couple of kids I was finally at the point in my early 30s where I had a little disposable income to spend on boating. I could afford to buy a Laser (a cosmetic second at a knock-down price) and join a friendly little local club. If you had told me I had to spend three or twenty times what I paid for my Laser to take up boating I would probably have done something else instead.

The NMMA claims to be representing manufacturers of the full spectrum of recreational boats. So why is this campaign planting the untruth that you need to spend $10,000 to buy a boat?

Sure I get it that it's not the job of the NMMA to promote the sales of second-hand boats. But don't they care about selling new dinghies and catamarans at the $5-7,000 price point? Or new kayaks. or new rowboats?

Sam Chapin said...

I think they are making a lot of those big boats and selling them. A 100,000 dollar boat is a lot easier to sail than a Laser. Of course you have to wait till the crew comes onboard.

O Docker said...

More people are taking up boating by buying a boat for $5,000 or $2,000 or $500 than are buying new Catalina 18s and their ilk.

And I think that's the problem the boat builders are trying to address with this online campaign. It's a problem for them, not for sailors, because there are now so many used boats of all sizes available at bargain prices.

Somehow, average dudes used to be able to afford brand new 25-30 foot sport and cruising boats after they'd started in smaller boats. And the marine industry was happy. But I'm just not seeing new boats of that size showing up in marinas any more.

Maybe I hang out at the wrong marinas.

Tillerman said...

You could be right O Docker. That may be the sector of the market that is suffering. Perhaps the manufacturers of boats under $10,000 are doing OK and it's the makers of the "25-30 foot sport and cruising boats" who are suffering. And this campaign is intended to support them. I still think the potential buyers would have more fun with a Hobie Wave - and have plenty of money left over for beer.

On the other hand in Sam's world they are selling a lot of $100,000 boats because they are easier to sail than Lasers.

I wonder who is right.

Tillerman said...

On a slightly different question, if you do have a $10-100,000 boat that you use for recreation (not racing) do you really want lots more people buying such boats and clogging up the marinas and driving up marina costs with their new toys?

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

IMO, This conversation should include the wisdom of Nick Hayes, author of the book Saving Sailing. Here's a sample of what he has to say.

Tillerman said...

Nick is one of my heroes. He certainly has a lot of great ideas about the value of sailing and how to encourage people to participate. One of his main themes, which he emphasizes again in this article, is the important role for families and the need to facilitate cross-generational experiences. I don't feel as strongly as he seems to about this factor - perhaps because my parents didn't sail and I came to sailing quite independently from them - but it certainly does have a role.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Yes, for myself, I have stood on the shoulders of my father who gave me tennis and sailing. Both have been blessings. I am doing what I can to offer my shoulders to my children and granchildren.

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