Classic Boats Have Reached The Tipping Point In Their History.

We are there.

This summer is one for the history books for sure. And it’s time like this that great changes in our society happen. Wartime and somewhat this time. We have all had a universal connection with COVID. The entire planet has experienced the same crap, and therefore changed us all. In all that change is a dramatic shift in our work force and how and why we work.

if it was still around it would be empty

Top all this with shortages in production of manufactured goods. And a a new appreciation of things in life that bring us joy. Go to your local boat dealer. CRICKETS! Empty. And frustrated for sure. So what tipping point?

We have talked about this for over a decade. Its now

We have tipped into the art phase of our boats. Most of the new people in the passion are younger. As in 40 is young. They have decided to get there small families out of dodge for good. Work from home or a smaller town and live the dream. And along with that see classic boats as art. Not a favorite memory of childhood. Not the boat they always wanted as a kid. Just art. Like Porsches are, and vintage motorcycles. All art. It’s why some boats are worth more and some less. Its about design, and the statement they make. And all while still being a boat. Dock art, boathouse prop. A lifestyle purchase.

WOW, its not a boathouse its a boat gallery

And this is good! Great in fact. Here’s why? If you follow the car world, the nostalgia world. They all have ups and downs. Only certain designs withstand the chasm of memories. Corvettes, Porsches, Harleys, Indian Bikes, Shelbys. All iconic and are not model A’s.

Museum of fine art. Wynn Boat house Michigan

Which boats will make it? Well thats another days story. Maybe tomorrow. We will also be touching on service, restoration, preservation and other topics on the subject so grab your champale and fish eggs. We are all now patrons of the arts!

And I am just gonna say this once. I worked on this campaign in my past. Yup! A low point HA.. Very nice couple though.

its not a barn anymore. It’s a gallery. Restoration on the “Gallery” starts in a couple weeks.

Fort Mahogany! Gallery and Fort

Lee Andersons ” Gallery”

Jimmys Barn, no way in hell he is calling it a gallery

Eric Zel-man-cave gallery

This is the barn a little after it was built.

She has hit a point where I need to purge and curate. Curate is a gallery word.

Ahhhhh! The Antique Boat Museum

23 replies
  1. Jeff Funk
    Jeff Funk says:

    From our own restoration shop, we’ve never seen the interest and demand for these boats as strong as we’re experiencing now. Odd for sure during these strange times. Yes, many are younger and want something different than the massive wave-making $150k+ boats you see everywhere. The younger classic boat enthusiasts new to the hobby tell me they love the looks, sounds, and craftsmanship of these boats…but most of all they like being noticed on the water and feel ‘cool and classy’ driving them. They like the ‘respect’ they receive from other boaters for owning one. Most of us current classic boat owners already ‘get it’. Whether it’s an ‘art’ thing or not, IMO the hobby is alive and well.

  2. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    I need one of these “boat galleries”! Gotta ask what that is in the Lee Anderson gallery – the ornate, gold-trimmed white edifice beyond the bow of the Hacker? Very much hope your assessment is correct, Jeff.

  3. Scott K
    Scott K says:

    You’re dancing into the realm of fake news.

    Depending on the source, new boat sales in May and June were up 40 -70 % compared to the year prior. Yes, Q1 was down, but then everything was.

    The showrooms may be empty only because we are buying everything remotely. I loved the docusign process when leasing my new truck.

    • Gene
      Gene says:

      Not fake news based on Jeff’s citation of his young customers comments re vintage boats, (and Jim’s) even though there is a large burst of general enthusiasm for boating as evidenced by crowded ramps, lakes, and empty shelves

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      The showrooms are empty because they sold every boat they had by mid June and there isn’t much new stock arriving.

  4. Murdock
    Murdock says:

    Couldn’t agree more with Jeff.
    We’ve seen a solid increase this year in woodie ownership and continuing stewardship of the boats with the next generations. Now, I’m not talking about Lee Anderson or Jim Street dream vessels, but everyday users like the U-22 station wagons of the water.
    We make it easy and dispel the uneasiness of owning a wooden boat. It helps that our crew are all gear heads, race boats and cars on the weekends and have honest conversations with our customers each day.
    Maybe the term should be “Barngallery”.
    Come to the barn, enjoy the sights at the gallery and take home a piece of art.
    Works for me.

    • Allen
      Allen says:

      I remember seeing Jiminy the 1st time 11 years ago on a ball bouncing around Burt Lake ….a white U22 like I was in Sassafras…..2 of 51 hulls. It’s important to invest the next generation……with messing around on an old wooden boat….i do it ecery chance I GET.

  5. Charlie Berry
    Charlie Berry says:

    Earlier this century, I owned a 19′ 1939 ‘Barrelback’ CC Custom Runabout, which for several years fulfilled a dream for me that I had since age 4. I seemed to spend inorinate amounts each season to upgrade and correct deficiencies to the point where the boat became a prizewinner at Clayton (Best Engine, and Best Canadian Boat, both sort of low level awards, but awards nevertheless) . It reached the quality level where it was like running a piano in the water and since I no longer had a good venue to operate it, and was always fearful when just moving it around, I sold it. So in my mind it had reached the ‘museum’ level and I could sit and look at it or pass it on.

  6. tparsons56
    tparsons56 says:

    Matt – I see where you are going with this. If it’s not really a classic boat but “art” and art can go up in value over time then it makes sense to get more classic boats [art].

    I like it!

    • Jerome
      Jerome says:

      Thanks for showing the pic of the Wynn boat house. A few years ago I was lucky enough to have been invited to visit. The interior along with the boats were over the edge. Something like visiting a boaters art gallery or wooden boat heaven?! ,

  7. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    It appears that many hobbies, pursuits, avocations or whatever you want to call them, are booming right now. The reasons are obvious and related to pandemic concerns, travel barriers and the desire by folks to still be active, but close to home and in smaller groups.

    I know most boat dealers are sold out and used boats are commanding high prices, recreational rental property is sold out, and hardware and home improvement vendors are booming. Our Air BnB rental in Tavares is practically sold out all summer and fall – to regional renters for the most part. Some items are not available due to supply chain and manufacturing concerns, others are sold out due to demand.

    This certainly not unique to user-type vintage boats, the observation is everywhere in society. We just bought an E-bike, and there was almost no inventory anywhere. This would not have been easily predictable 5 months ago. Manufacturing disruption is not behind vacation property rental demand or user-level vintage boat sales.

    I don’t think art has much to do with it, people just want something to do and they are reaching out for it. I’ve been watching the TMM auctions on BAT – prices for the marquee boats in the collection have been disappointing in my opinion, almost to the extreme – the current listing for Miss Tahoe may break that trend. However, the lower-priced stuff has been strong, so there you have it.

    Lets see what happens when Covid and the corresponding societal apprehensions it has fomented recede – that will be telling.

    • RivaDella
      RivaDella says:

      Most of the TMM boats have not been used for many years. It’s obvious they will all need some/lots of work; equates to “unknown/scary/costly” amount of work before using. Potential first time buyers know just enough about wood boats to be very careful in how much they bid. No surprise to me. Good that people have their eyes open, otherwise all the negatives about wood boats get more airtime.

  8. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    I am ok with Art as a description to a hand made antique or classic wood boat. They look good in or out of the water . Picture is a 1937 25 foot Chris Craft roll deck.
    We are putting new 5200 bottoms on a lot more mid level boats such as sportsman’s, smaller runabouts , and other entry level boats. I believe people are appreciating them more now than in the past and want to something different . This renewed interest encompasses all the fine attributes of owning a wood boat.
    I too am a little disappointed at some of the prices at auction and have always thought at some point the wood boat market will follow a little closer to the classic car prices. Camaros and corvettes for an example.

  9. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    Thanks for the answer, Scott. Charlie makes an interesting point. Toys we can actually play with are more fun, than art that can only be viewed. Think I’ll stick to keeping my Aristocraft presentable and avoid that whole perfection trap.

  10. John Lisicich
    John Lisicich says:

    Aloha and happy Wednesday! Kelly, it’s a Gavioli Street organ. Very cool item. I used to rebuild automatic musical instruments, mostly the Violano Virtuoso automatic violin and piano. Very cool! Now I like smaller street organs and own the kind you see with a monkey and a guy in an Austrian hat and lederhosen.
    Hmm, with the upsurge in classic boat sales, maybe our Fairliner Torpedo will sell. It has not been wet in 5 years since Bruce Bronson made it wonderful. I still love that boat and look at it every night and it brings me tons of joy to see a dream realized
    Make every day count!

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