A Comment Worthy Of A Story! Thanks Paul Harrison

Rock the boat!

In yesterdays story, I kinda touched on some topics of sales and how is the business of Classic Boating going.Of course it hit a nerve, not a painful nerve but an insightful nerve. maybe more like a pinched nerve? Paul Harrison left a very powerful message in the comment section. And he nailed it. Like a 10 pt dive. Shockingly I read the entire comment as well. So, I thought today on a Saturday a good poke in the ye might make your morning a little more fun. Then go out into the barn and make sweet love to your boat. I have added ink clot babes to move the story along… It’s a mash up..Take it away Paul!


Boat sales strong? I’ll take your word for it, but that might be open to debate, though the lower price ranges might be more active.

I am one of the guys that sold an upper mid-range boat after it had been listed for years. It took 4 or 5 years (not sure which) and the price realized was way below initial broker estimates of value. The price had to be reduced over time until an offer was elicited. Prior to that, the boat was in hindsight obviously priced above the market, though the only way to really know that is by watching the months and years tick by with little or no interest. I was not a “motivated” seller in the traditional sense so was content to wait it out, but now I wish I had reacted to what the market was telling me more quickly.

Oh Miss Welch!

I have learned a bit from this process – a simple but occasionally fraught process called price discovery. We as owners can set the price, but the market sets the value. The value of my boat was $80k, not the higher numbers earlier ascribed. I wish it was higher but in the end it wasn’t; life goes on.

Not legal anymore.. Okay that comment could be read wrong. its a coast guard thing, not a creepy thing. you all need to get your heads out of the gutter. These two women are someones Grandma now.

Value has absolutely ZERO to do with the amount you have invested in the boat, the fact your family has owned it for 100 years, or any other factor to which you may be emotionally anchored. It is worth what a knowledgeable buyer will pay on that day, that’s it. The sooner a seller can accept this, the better the chances of a sale will be. The realization can be painful, but it’s also inevitable. Brokers and restorers have a role to play in educating sellers, I would submit.

Okay, not a babe.. BUT Not sure what is going on here. This boat is a mess YET? Pop Yachts thinks its worth 133K  YOU CAN SEE WHAT I MEAN HERE

There are way too many boats sitting on the market for years at clearly delusional price points, points to which owners are emotionally but not rationally anchored. If these boats were priced based on actual market reality, we as a hobby would see higher transaction volumes and perceive an overall greater vibrancy in the market. Perception and sentiment are important, perhaps a contributing factor to the oft-held sentiment that the classic boat market is slow are low transaction volumes partially brought about by unrealistic asking prices in many cases? Just a thought.

I think classic car market is in a period of retreat or retrenchment as well, after significantly disappointing sales in the summer. Who knows, maybe a demographic reckoning is happening? Price adjustments will occur in that market as well.

Lady Babe Bacon.. You earned it by reading this far!

If you have had a triple or a launch or any other boat for sale for years with no interest, the market is not the problem – the problem is your price – drop it or do everyone a favor and take it off the market. It’s really as simple supply and demand – evidently not a whole ton of people want big triples or launches with high prices on them, so there are an abundance of those for sale. If you really want to sell it, lower the price to the market or take it off the market and go boating.

I don’t think she is boating.

21 replies
  1. Jeff Funk
    Jeff Funk says:

    Paul is exactly right. This goes for most everything, not just boats. My father-in-law, a very successful banker and businessman, once told me ‘you can sell anything if you price it right’. Truer words were never spoken.

  2. Garry
    Garry says:

    Unfortunately, between yesterday’s comments by Paul and todays theme I quite agree. I have put one of my boats up for sale at the start of this year and have had one offer lower than what I wanted. I need to adjust to meet market expectations.
    What I had wanted was based on factors such as brand name prestige, uniqueness of engine, the amount of time and techniques used on restoration and some family inputs. The factors I ignored were as played out by todays theme and Paul. Those factors were what I got out of satisfaction of accomplishment, knowledge gained thru research, usage, awards and a lot of compliments. All these latter factors do not meet what the market will bear.
    That market is significantly different than the career market I am used to which can bear some extreme high prices since the products had high developmental costs and represented less than one percent of the overall cost to the end user who was paying almost 100 million.
    In other words, the wooden boat, or hobbyist fever has side effects that warp life’s perspective.

  3. Gene
    Gene says:

    Well, this is an interesting topic and there is little doubt that Paul, Jeff and Matt – professionals all – are correct: Any given boat will sell faster if priced lower. But what about the impact on the entire market?

    I tend to believe that the hobby is limited by the declining number of people that want to own and care for an old boat – at ANY price.
    No doubt that if the sellers of the $100K triples and launches lowered their price to that of the sellers of U-22s, their boats would move much more quickly. But what happens to the market and price for U-22s?

    Rather than focussing how to move high end boats more quickly, I believe the more important challenge is to get more boaters to realize they would have a lot more fun and more friends and maybe even more fish if they
    joined the vintage boat community – even woodenboaterville. ACBS Chapter educational efforts – workshops, shows, support for schools, etc, are at the forefront of this effort. And yes, woodyboater’s cheeky daily blasts help demonstrate the fun that is being missed by too many.

    Or so it seems to me.

  4. Gene
    Gene says:

    Also, today’s ACBS’ weekly report that highlights a new Turcotte Gar Wood Speedster demonstrates a lively market for these new high-end classic woodies. No doubt that the availability of such boats from several successful builders impacts the market for the originals.

  5. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    The pattern is one that repeats over and over. Launches were the must have boat at one point but are not in demand anymore. Then is was the big pre-war triples, but their star is fading. It will keep happening and whatever the next big thing is amongst the high dollar collectors will eventually fade and be replaced by another generation.

    We are also at the tail end of a long economic cycle. People with money are starting to prepare for a possible/likely downturn and also a potentially very hostile new tax environment in DC in 14 months. That alone will greatly reduce the number of people willing to write a 6 digit check for a car or boat at the moment.

  6. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    The art business is the same. I’m selling something that is a want, not a need and have always been realistic to who my clients are. I can price at what I’d like to get (especially on larger works) but sometimes a lower price nabs the sale.

  7. Cameron
    Cameron says:

    I agree with the above and am talking of the entry level woodie here. I sold after a year at the price I wanted, but I found it’s the story behind the boat that made the price acceptable. The buyer had decided she wanted a wooden classic with a reliable outboard, so priced that into the deal, but it was only after the sale, a couple of months later, when she contacted me and said so many people were stopping her in the canals and asking about the boat. She knew it had a great history but had forgotten and wanted to satisfy her audience. Play up the history, they all have one. A boat with an interesting provenance will sell more quickly than one without a known history, maybe even for a slightly higher price.

  8. Briant
    Briant says:

    I think Gene has a great point…the numbers are just dropping, and while price is a factor, a larger one perhaps are the other bits….upkeep, who will fix it, how will I tow the damn thing, and the biggie…where am I gonna store a big boat?

    Houses are very expensive for the younger people. Few have shops or garages large enough. Many, many are looking at $80,000 college debt because the society told them that in order to eat food you’d need a degree, and with that, you think they are gonna rush out and buy a boat they know little or nothing about, they have no visceral connection with, and that is gonna add another $20 plus grand to their red flagged bank account?

    Years back we had the chance to obtain Grandpa’s 36ft CC. But at $500 a month for the marina fee, we told the family to sell, which they did for a measly $3500.

    As a classic car enthusiast, I have all but given up on owning another car other than my MG. A Datsun 240Z from my younger years are now $25,000 or more. The Ok Boomers want $50k and more for a measly 1968 Camero. The younger folks in our society look at the prices of classic cars and immediately do a 180, buy a Honda, and instead plop $2000 of stereo equipment into the poor thing.

    The next ten to twenty years is gonna be very interesting….the Ok Boomers are really going to be older and their precious cars are boats are gonna sit and rot or worse, because the young are gonna buy a Subaru and some more kayaks…..

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      A simple point and question:

      The anti-establishment, free-love, hippie, anti-war, commune-loving, nascent environmentalist, drug experimenting, eastern philosophy seeking, anti-consumerist, protesting, idealistic Woodstock generation of 50 years ago ARE today’s Boomers.

      What will today’s millennials be tomorrow?

      Who can pretend to know? What did older people in 1968/69 predict for the equally or more rebellious generation they were observing then? I bet few predicted they’d become what are today’s boomers. You can thank them for driving up the prices of the VW micro buses and 240z’s of their own youth.

  9. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Damn Paul…leave out the drugs and eastern philo…and that’s ME!
    DEMOGRAPHIC RECKONING… best phrase for current situation…..in my book anyway.

    Just came back from Going Boating…so, “what me worry”

    John in Va.

  10. CenturyMike
    CenturyMike says:

    Price it to sell….Seems like a fair point but I was only reading it for the bab…. I mean boat pics…:)

  11. Bob Murdock
    Bob Murdock says:

    You’ll get no argument from me on all the comments above.
    As a new marina owner in northern MI, one of the many goals this summer was to introduce a larger number of people into the world of wooden boats. They came to rent PONTOON boats and we gave them more to see!
    I made sure the selection in the showroom varied from small dinghys, canoes and Kevin Fitzke’s works-of-art paddle boards to 17′ late 50’s Sportsmans, Rivieras, split cockpits, U-22’s, a triple and some cruisers thrown in.
    In every case where a boat was brokered, I made clear to the owner if they were expecting the moon, I’d rather not accept the brokerage contract. A dose of reality up front was needed and I made no promises. For example, one boat we took on had belonged to a widow and had been on the market for five years at an obscene price that someone (the restorer) told her it is worth. Current reality placed the value at far less and we’ll tackle that one next year.
    Another widow whose boat was an 18′ Riviera user realized a reasonable number fairly quickly and was happy as she would have never used the boat, nor wanted to keep it in her garage for sentimental reasons either.
    We helped Andy Hoffman/Antique Boat America sell a 19′ CC barrelback replica at a reasonable price as the aging owner (who I sold the boat new to in 1999) could no longer use it and his children had no desire to spend the money for upkeep or storage.
    We also sold a Fitzke paddle board and several other woodies, all 20K and under with trailer and full accessories, with some good users at less than 10K.
    The triples and cruisers? Ooohs and Ahhhs but in the end? Nothing but eye candy to draw attention to the hobby.
    50K U-22’s? You’re on drugs. We sold two this summer at 30K and under, both with new bottoms, strong M series motors AND on new trailers.
    I concur that we will struggle to get the attention of large numbers of newcomers, much like the Model T or Model A Clubs and fewer when they take in the restoration costs of doing a basket case 30′ triple with a Kermath in it. Again, two people in the US that even know anything about a dual ignition, 678 cubic inch six cylinder motor?!?!?!
    Our goal will be to continue to make getting into a woodie a reasonable experience. Let’s start them young with a Thompson outboard, to a 17′ Sportsman, a U-22 when the kids come along and then, well, who knows.
    In the end, we just have to keep it fun, keep it affordable, stay the hell out of the politics and enjoy the very few moments we get out on the water.
    That’s not so hard, is it?

  12. Jim G
    Jim G says:

    I’ve always have noticed that sales and prices fall off the 18 months before a national election. After the election the go back up .

  13. Bob Murdock
    Bob Murdock says:

    Dear Don,
    It’s always been about saving the boats.
    I’ve been buying up all that I could that were sold at the marina new and anything else I can get my hands on to save for restoration.
    Used to have some empty storage barns but no longer.
    Wife has said “you can’t save them all” and I replied, “but I sure can try.”
    My comment was about the sheer costs of restoration starting from scratch. You have to have a passion and expendable funds to play; just don’t expect that you’ll recover all those funds in a sale of the boat.
    Passion is priceless, reality is a bitch.
    It’s a fun hobby and that’s where we need to be.
    My thoughts from the peanut gallery anyway.

  14. Ron in Seattle
    Ron in Seattle says:

    Great comments.

    A case in point, have been following an overpriced boat for some years, ever since I sold it. After a little over a year, the new owner decided he was not a WoodyBoater. He decided to double, plus some, his buying price to sell the boat. Our wooden boat community is small and I know the unnecessary work that he had done to “improve “the boat ruining the originality. I guess you need cushions to sunbathe against the front windshield blocking your view underway. Yes, the price has dropped from 180 K, to now 120 K. The reality, A very nice Chris Craft cruiser can sell for about $1000 a foot in the Pacific Northwest if you can find a buyer. I sold this one for much more than that, which broke my heart.
    IF you were able to find a buyer in the next 2 to 3 years, the actual value is probably 50 to 70 K.

  15. George Emmanuel
    George Emmanuel says:

    One thing not mentioned in all this discussion is supply. At the peak of the hobby people were searching everywhere. The internet came along and once some people saw prices, stuff started popping up out of the woodwork. Supply drives price. Limited interest vs large supply equals lower price. Case in point: I’m a collector of antique outboards. The Clarke engineering company made hundreds of single cylinder “trolling” outboards with the powerhead below water. In 1938 they came out with a twin cylinder and went bankrupt soon after. No one had ever seen a twin. I own the prototype and displayed it at a major show. I was offered ridiculous money. Shortly thereafter they started popping up because people saw what I was offered. Once several others became available, the price dropped. Right now is a great time to buy a vintage boat. Just make sure of its condition!

    • BE
      BE says:

      That wasn’t my boat. I was showing an example of overpriced vessels. You may have been mistaken, I was just posting mine for free. Either way. It would have been nice to have the opportunity to edit the post.

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