Are Woody Boats The Best Value In Boating Today!

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Restored Riviera $39K and comes with a Warranty!

We are getting in reports from the New York Boat show talking about how expensive new boats are today. Personally I have noticed some sticker shock when looking around as well, and it’s seems rather easy to drop $100K on a simple boat these days. $100K!!!!  Even a simple 25 foot single outboard boat can be in the $50K area. A new 2016 Chris Craft 25 footer is around $180K. By the way, that’s a lot of money. ALOT! But look around at various sites with Classic Boats. Some are around $30K and up, and a world class show stopper when you reach over $150K And if you are “I want a New” person, an insane cool over the top Hacker Craft will get you up there, but worth it, if you are in the market for a $250K something plastic. There is NO comparison.

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The Ultimate New Boat! Hacker Craft Racer

But really now we are talking everyday fun boats to use here. U22’s are in the $40K range and absolute bullet proof fun family tanks.

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Here is a U22 on Antique Boat Centers site for around $40K, all done, blonde interior, Its amazing. And will be worth that in a couple years with some TLC

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Another sweet U22 on the west coast at Sierra Boat Co. AMAZING, has modern power. All the goodies.

But really think about it. Many, if not most of the Woody Boats out there are way under the $100K mark. And we are talking about stunning ready to run and show boats…with warrenties. And, here is the deal, the maintenance on a nicely restored boat is not all that much. Sure ya gotta refresh the varnish. But with no soak bottoms and new technology in Varnish, the Woody boats of today are far more durable than they were. Not to mention a fantastic community you are plugged into right away.

We own a small 17 ft Plastic boat. Its great, but it needs service and polishing, and all the stuff still needs servicing. Our trusty WECATCHEM starts and runs like a champ, and I enjoy working on her in the boat house. And out on the water she looks better than any fancy white million dollar plastic tub. And when I am ready to sell both my boats. One will stay at what i paid for her, and the other just goes down in value no matter how many times I polish her. So if you’re in the market for a boat this spring, take a look at a classic boat. You will be pleasantly surprised when you buy her, own her and sell her for another one. Tomorrow, tips on buying a classic boat!

20 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    The best deals in boating are fiberglassics and non-classic used glass. Forget $30,000-40,000, you can slide the decimal over and get a glass boat for $3,000-$4,000 that will do everything a U22 will do except look as good and sound as good. Heck, they guy in the office next to me bought a 1990’s Chris Craft stern drive bow rider last year for $1500. It runs and rides great and after a little upholstery repair, looks decent too. Oh and it came with a trailer at that price too!

    • Bert Harris
      Bert Harris says:

      Especially a Penn Yan. Have you seen how cheap they are these days? I saw a real nice 1976 on Craigslist for $500.00 last month and it was like new on a good trailer. Yes, there some deals on fiberglass but if you want something with some class you will have to come off your wallet. The good looking one are commanding real money.

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    m-fine makes a good point.

    It seems like used boats in general are a good deal right now. I don’t know if the upturn in the economy has people buying new and getting rid of old or what but there sure are a lot of nice used boats out there at fair prices.

    For me one of the best deals I have seen lately is Pat Chaps 26 footer, Moxie. What a beautiful boat and now listed, on a trailer, for under 40K.

    If you want to see some really crazy deals start looking at vintage cruisers.

    • Troy in ANE
      Troy in ANE says:

      To m-fines point this 27′ Formula sold this past summer for about 15K, on the trailer. I spoke with the guy that purchased it and even thought there are some maintenance items that are needed, he just launched and ran.

  3. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    So true, Matt. It’s a message that needs to get out there to preserve this lifestyle and the value of our boats. On my lake $90k wakeboard boats are everywhere. Heck, $90k PONTOON BOATS are everywhere. When I pull up to the gas dock with my little sixteen-footer all eyes are on me, not the six-figure clorox bottles. And everyone’s questions revolve around how expensive it must have been and “don’t you have to varnish it every month?” “Actually, no, I reply, all in it cost less than a modest new aluminum walleye boat with a 50hp outboard.”

  4. Sean
    Sean says:

    The right tool for the right job. I bought this 18′ DONZI 2+2 for $4,500. It came with a trailer, a cockpit cover and a heavy duty weather cover. It needed a clean and polish, some attention to the wiring (just ensuring the grounds and a few zap ties), a new fender in the trailer. I also gave it new plugs, wires carb calibration, new battery, and a new gauge set just because I wanted to. You can’t beat that kind of fun and I wouldn’t beat up my Greavette the way I do this Donzi.

    Add to that, some DONZIs are excellent (and rare) classics that could still brought to the shows If wanted . The first DONZIs were produced in 1964.

    • Sean
      Sean says:

      Oh, and after 2 seasons use, I resold her for $12,500. Still affordable and plenty of life left for the new owner to enjoy the 260HP V8 and 65mph life in the fast lane.

  5. Karl Hoffman
    Karl Hoffman says:

    Classic glass is the best deal out there. Even though I am caretaker of three prewar Chris Crafts. I could not resist this 1983 Ski Nautique. Originally purchased new by Jeff Jobe It came in pristine original condition needing no restoration for $5,200

    • Greg Lewandowski
      Greg Lewandowski says:

      I bought a very clean 1985 Ski Nautique in 2000 for $10,000. I put 300 hours on it towing skiers and tubers for over 10 years. Since it was not getting much use in the last few years, I sold it in 2014 for $7500. The first guy that drove over 70 miles to see it bought it. He called me about a year later to tell me that uses it every weekend towing his young kids around on skis and tubes. I was pleased that it had another life of making a family happy while boating!

  6. Fred
    Fred says:

    I had a 50 CC Sportsman that I owned for 25 years. It was restored when I bought it. It was basically trouble free the whole time I owned it. I did all the maintenance work on it. and replaced a few small side planks, wooded it once, and varnished it every few years. I sold it back to the original owners son for what I paid for it years ago. Could I of got more for it? Yeah, but the look on the original owners sons face when he saw his dads boat for the first time in years was priceless. He told me stories about the boat, I found an old lead sinker wedged in the bilge, saved it and gave it to him, he was amazed I saved it, said he and his dad made these. He said the boat was nicer than the pictures I sent him and it looks like it could go in the water tomorrow. Yes it could. To me that’s what being a caretaker for this old stuff be it old boats or cars is all about. We never really own them, just enjoy them and pass them on.

  7. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    The community is the best part. In a fiberglass boat, we would never have gotten to meet Leslie and Henry, Terry and Jerri, Randy and Linda, John and April, Al and Bonne, Lou, Dennis, Matt, Joel and The Brians. Would have missed out on Alex, The Mertaughs, Lance Wilson, Diana and Michael, Captain America and Lady Diana; the list of new friends is very long! Plus: the innumerable people who have approached us at docks, gas stations, out on the lake, all with appreciation and personal stories. The ‘thumbs up’ and photos shot on the highways are small reminders that we purchased well.

  8. Frank Miklos
    Frank Miklos says:

    New boats, campers etc are some of the worst things to purchase… Just buy purchasing it and taking it from the dealer you have lost about 20% that is before it goes in the water.. Now you use it for 2 or 3 summers with normal wear and tear … your value may have dropped another 20% Run it another 3 years You are down to about 35% to 40% of its original value that is if you have taken excellent care of it… Now buy a restored vintage wood boat if you take care of it . Being used with normal wear and tear but not abused at all after the same 5-6 years will be worth 80% or more of your original investment.. If you take exceptional care of it, it should be worth 100% if you did not over pay at the time of purchase.. A new wood boat like Hacker , Garwood , Grand Craft , Maya Craft etc. will depreciate some but not like an average new fiberglass boat… Classic boats are an investment in history even if not always an investment in future value… Today a 1920s Chris Craft 24′ Tripple is worth far less than it was 15 years ago .. but Chris Crafts from the 1950s and 1960s in general are worth more today than they were 15 year ago… Just like cars .. 15-20 years ago cars from the 20s 30s were pricy. Now finned cars from th3 50s and muscle cars from the 60s are hot. Back 15 years ago certain model As could sell for 60-80K. Today you can buy the same car for 25 -35K. For Items that I own I buy what I like not what it will sell for. My purchase are not for the investment that may be a byproduct later in life but I buy what I like and want to play with.. I like the flashy boats from the 1950s and 1960s .. With big V-8s My favorite all time boat is the 1961-1962 Century Coronado. Next 1959-1960. I have one of each… ( not restored)

  9. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    Matt, your right on topic, again. As you all know, working for Scuttlebutt Magazine, I attend several Great Lake boat shows all season long. I just shake my head as I walk the isles and look at the prices of the new toys. $100k for a pontoon boat!? I remember seeing a sign on a 30 foot Sea Ray or something like it, saying “$30,00.00 off, boat show special”. I thought, my 1985 27 ft Sea Ray I bought new, only cost me around $30k TOTAL.
    I Also agree with all the early glass value comments tho. My 1995 Coronado can stand tall next to any new 20 foot ski boat selling for $80k+( I got only $30k invested in it), and I WILL get that back in 4 to 5 years.
    This “Comparison Message” NEEDS to be explained to all the visitors who walk through a Classic Boat display at the winter boat shows. We may snag a few new converts…

  10. cenger
    cenger says:

    Old fiberglass boats are cool but don’t think just because you can buy them cheap they don’t require $$$ to get to a standard you want. My 1969 Formula looked pretty good but had some problems (as all old boats do). Engine rebuild, new paint, new interior, outdrive rebuild, new wiring and my good deal not so good anymore. None the less I’m way ahead of the cost of a new $100K ski boat and mine is much cooler.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      cenger, I wholly agree. I bought a classic glass Chris-Craft XK-18 (small jet boat) for $10 that needed a total cosmetic resto. About $32,000 later, it was done. So I now had $42,000 into a perfectly restored boat in a category dominated by $5,000-$10,000 boats far more powerful.

      I made quite a few rookie mistakes. Paid about $5,000 too much. Never computed resto costs before starting. Used, at the outset, a restorer that did not posess good customer skills. Kept going as costs mounted (ignoring the concept of sunk costs).

      Love the boat though. It’s so cool. It’s a hoot to drive. It sounds fantastic. And my kids delight in rides. It’s the best correctly restored original in the land by a mile. (Because I was nuts.) But I’m well underwater $-wise.

      Oh well. What else can I do but sell it and take my lumps. Or use it. I’m chosing the latter.

      • Alex
        Alex says:

        I guess what I’m saying is go into any boat, any, ONLY after doing one’s homework. If someone is ok losing 50% or so of purchase price in the first few years, by all means buy a new Sea Ray. We all know that’s the case with a new car. So it is with most new boats.

        Classic boats can be far better purchases though, if bought wisely. An excellent restored 22-U for $45,000 and maintained / gently used is a good example.

        The true cost formula of something is:

        purchase price + financing cost (if any) + operating costs + insurance + repairs + upgrades (if any) – selling cost = true cost

        This ignores the time value of money of course.

        Next story, Matt and Texx: “How can one PROFIT in buying a classic boat?”

        Maybe you could do an infomercial on the subject like Tom Vu 🙂

  11. pat
    pat says:

    Troy, thanks for the generous comments about Moxie my 1957 26ft CC Sports Express.
    She is still for sale asking $39,000.
    How many boats can you buy today that have a v-berth that sleeps 2, electric head, twin inboards and a trailer. She can also be taken to the ACBS Shows in the Summer and win first place awards.

  12. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Great thread.
    Makes me much more at home with going fiberglassic….I love my 1980 Fairchild Scout 30 retro cruiser. First Tupperware I have ever owned…..sleep soundly knowing the bilge is bone dry and cruising at 6 knots sipping diesel is as easy to get used to as it is on the wallet.
    John in Va.

  13. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Here is a 1987 Chris Craft (yup that’s a late classic) that could be had for about $1,500.00, including the trailer. (Show up with cash and you could probably do even better)

  14. Mike
    Mike says:

    Best deals are woody cruisers over 36′, most cost about the down payment on a new boat and the berth would equal the payment. No towing, just drive out and step on and most of the time hang out for the weekend. Once you have had a nice bed and toilet, add kitchen and heater, it is hard to down size.

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