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Old 12-07-2018, 03:42 PM   #1
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Fresh Water Boat Premium?

Curious as to everyone’s thoughts on whether or not a “freshwater” boat was worth a premium price. Seems like boats listed as freshwater only are offered at higher prices, sometimes up to 20% or more. Regardless of where we buy our boat, we’re going to take it into salt water, and as soon as it touches salt water that “fresh water only” description goes away, along with the higher price.

I know that condition and maintenance mean more than anything else, and each boat is different, but how much better is a 10-20 year old boat that has never seen salt?
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Old 12-07-2018, 04:07 PM   #2
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It's better, and no mistake. 20% better? That depends on the value put on condition.

My custom built sailboat spent two years in the Great Lakes fresh water, then when we hit the salt at Quebec City, more corrosion in two weeks than in the last 2 years.
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Old 12-07-2018, 05:21 PM   #3
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It is nice to have a fresh water only boat but for me it was not spa deal breaker since we were unable to find what we wanted in a fresh water only boat. We brought our boat back to the Great Lakes from saltwater. I have spent quite a bit of time working on it to remove the effects of the saltwater. Besides we had the enjoyment of running the boat home.
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Old 12-07-2018, 05:35 PM   #4
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When I was looking for a Mainship 34HT 4-5 yes old I looked a few salt water ones that were showing their age and SW exposure. I found a fresh water one and it was nite & day difference.
I can't imagine what 20 yrs in salt vs fresh would be like.
It's not only what's visible but the hidden stuff is what I would wonder about... exhaust system, water & oil & tranny heat xchangers, electrical connections... etc
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Old 12-07-2018, 05:45 PM   #5
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This topic gets discussed a lot. IMO, two boats, one in salt and one in fresh, all other factors being equal, the fresh water boat is worth the premium.
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Old 12-07-2018, 05:45 PM   #6
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Interesting thread.


One could probably even dice it further. How about north versus south? Six month versus 12 month boating season? What about bays?


Here's a map that I found on-line for the Chesapeake Bay salinity:





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Old 12-07-2018, 06:07 PM   #7
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The length of the season adds value, and even more bonus if kept in covered, heated storage over the winter.

And as mentioned, all premiums are only relevant to comparing boats roughly of same age (years and hours) and model that have received the same care.
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Old 12-07-2018, 06:33 PM   #8
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Take a look at my Salt Water Corrosion photo album. You won't see anything like this on a fresh water boat ... Your call.
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Old 12-07-2018, 08:03 PM   #9
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Take a look at my Salt Water Corrosion photo album. You won't see anything like this on a fresh water boat ... Your call.
Exactly.
I would and gladly paid a premium for a FW boat.
Great Lakes are a good place to search... generally lower hrs than southern boats due to shorter seasons.
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Old 12-07-2018, 08:57 PM   #10
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It isn't just salinity, temperature plays a major role as well. Chloride corrosion is greatly accelerated at elevated temperatures, and the difference is significant between say 45 deg north and 25 deg north latitude. 55 deg water vs. 80+ deg water.
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Old 12-07-2018, 09:27 PM   #11
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Appreciate the comments from you all. The one variable I don’t know at this point is how long we’re going to keep the boat. If it was a long term investment the premium would seem absolutely worth it. If we’re going to keep it only 2-3 years, and we’re going to use it in salt water, it still might be worth it for us, just not for resale value.

I’m learning. Compromise is the key. Thanks again to all who commented, and for the pics boatpoker.
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Old 12-13-2018, 12:47 AM   #12
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I'll actually take the opposite stance here.

To me, "freshwater boat" is a meaningless marketing term. Would not pay a cent more.

A well maintained saltwater boat will be much nicer than a poorly maintained freshwater boat. Each boat should be judged on its own merits. This is what the viewing, surveying, and sea trial are for.

Would I pay a premium for boat A, which happens to be in much nicer shape than boat B? Sure, but it would be based on me viewing both boats, and making my own determination on the condition and value.

Basically, I would pay no heed to anything in the ad listing (you can't verify stuff like this anyhow, especially on an older boat) and let the boat speak for itself. Corrosion, poor maintenance, etc. will all be easy to spot with detailed inspection.


That said, speaking generally, pros of a saltwater boat:
- Possible better systems installations, based on saltwater use-case
- Less rot issues (salt water prevents rot)
- Boat is "proven" in salt water - bonding system, bottom paint, zinc sizing, etc. are all good to go for salt

Pros of freshwater boat:
- Possibly less corrosion, especially in raw water cooling loop
- Possibly in better overall condition due to less demanding use-case
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Old 12-13-2018, 07:13 AM   #13
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Reo B
Interesting perspective... I agree in part and agree this is not an area to generalize. Every boat needs to stand on it's own merits.
That said I would travel longer distances to check out a FW boat that has the potential to be a winner. There are many items & areas that are hard or expensive to inspect on a boat and often those hidden items can be expensive.
Also agree if the pedigree doesn't clearly show exclusive FW use it's a gamble. Complete Owner records are always a key factor.
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Old 12-13-2018, 09:10 AM   #14
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Reo Bird in #12 nailed it. Judge the boat first. I've seen some pretty ratty boats that spent their whole "storage" life undercover in Lake Union. I've seen pristine vessels that have always been in salt water. Best yet IMHO, a single owner boat in great shape who has kept good records.
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Old 12-13-2018, 10:52 AM   #15
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Well certainly you're only buying a single boat and you must consider that boat on it's own merits. He acknowledge that the individual boat is what matters in the end. But the question was about freshwater boats as a class, and clearly as a 10-20 year old freshwater boat will suffer less corrosion and surface damage, and will look better than the same saltwater boat with the same maintenance.

Which is why as a buyer the OP is noticing across the board premiums for these boats. The typical boat of a particular year is generally in better shape if kept in freshwater.
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Old 12-13-2018, 11:01 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reo Baird View Post

A well maintained saltwater boat will be much nicer than a poorly maintained freshwater boat.
I have to agree. On points that matter, like water intrusion and soft-decks, FW vs SW is irrelevant. Closed coooled engines are irrelevant as well, with the exception of periodically servicing the raw water portion of the closed cooling system.

On a well maintained 20-yr-old saltwater boat, most equipment is less than 5-10 years old.

On a well maintained 20-yr-old freshwater boat, most equipment is 20 years old.
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Old 12-13-2018, 11:26 AM   #17
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On a well maintained 20-yr-old saltwater boat, most equipment is less than 5-10 years old.

On a well maintained 20-yr-old freshwater boat, most equipment is 20 years old.

Good point. We bought an always fresh water 30 year old Taiwanese Tub and most of the equipment was 30 years old. Ended up pitching the Loran-C and a complete spare. The exception was a Garmin GPSMAP 2010C which was 15 years old...as were the maps. Yeah, Garmin obsoleted that too but it amazes me how many boats for sale on YW still have the Garmin 2xxx series of chartplotters.
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Old 12-13-2018, 12:23 PM   #18
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Great points and opinions, and again, much appreciated.

I was assuming "all else being equal" so two boats, same model, similar engine hours, maintenance, appearance and condition. Especially if I'm going to use it salt and fresh water, would it be worth the premium?

From the comments (like everything with boats) the answer is "it depends."

Again, great comments, and more stuff for me to think about while perusing Yachtworld.

The search continues...
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Old 12-13-2018, 12:59 PM   #19
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Another wrinkle. If you were to buy a Great Lakes fresh water boat today, you won't get to enjoy it for six months. Then plan carefully if you want to get it out of there next summer. If it is too big to truck, will it fit under the low bridges at Chicago, or the Erie Canal, or will you have to sail down the St Laurence River and around Nova Scotia.
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Old 12-13-2018, 01:34 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reo Baird View Post
I'll actually take the opposite stance here.

To me, "freshwater boat" is a meaningless marketing term. Would not pay a cent more.

A well maintained saltwater boat will be much nicer than a poorly maintained freshwater boat. Each boat should be judged on its own merits. This is what the viewing, surveying, and sea trial are for.

Would I pay a premium for boat A, which happens to be in much nicer shape than boat B? Sure, but it would be based on me viewing both boats, and making my own determination on the condition and value.

Basically, I would pay no heed to anything in the ad listing (you can't verify stuff like this anyhow, especially on an older boat) and let the boat speak for itself. Corrosion, poor maintenance, etc. will all be easy to spot with detailed inspection.


That said, speaking generally, pros of a saltwater boat:
- Possible better systems installations, based on saltwater use-case
- Less rot issues (salt water prevents rot)
- Boat is "proven" in salt water - bonding system, bottom paint, zinc sizing, etc. are all good to go for salt

Pros of freshwater boat:
- Possibly less corrosion, especially in raw water cooling loop
- Possibly in better overall condition due to less demanding use-case
Reo,

However, a well maintained fresh water boat is SIGNIFICANTLY better than a poorly maintained boat.

Sure we need to compare apples with apples. If it's the same boat and same maintenance, the freshwater boat wins hands down. Not even close.

Now having said that, other factors like availability and transportation and distance come into play. If the fresh water boat is worth 20% more, one could pay more than 20% in just going back and forth, and ferry time to get it home..... all depends.
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