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Old 12-23-2015, 10:54 AM   #21
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Talking to a local boat builder about a month ago I asked the same question whats happened to smaller craft 26 to 30" not been built quick answer was they take about the same time and materials and no one will pay for what they cost to build !
I think you meant to say that the larger boats take about the same man hours to build as compared to the smaller boats. The raw materials will be more but the lion's share of the cost is in man hours. Thus, the larger boats are more profitable!
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Old 12-23-2015, 11:01 AM   #22
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So what does this add up to for everyone (who is not wealthy) looking for the entry level boat in a specific builders line-up? Instead of viewing this as the "glass half empty" I have to wonder if this increasing void is a business opportunity for a few high quality builders?

Curious to hear what other have to say about this trend.John T.
I don't think so, JT! There are so many boat builders today that are operating close to the vest or at a lost and the existing economy and consumers aren't motivated enough to guarantee the survival of a high quality builder.
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Old 12-23-2015, 11:12 AM   #23
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The reason to drop the smallest boats in the line up is that as a manufacturer grows they optimize the facility for the new bigger boats. It is expensive to build a small boat in a big boat manufacturing facility.
Again, I agree with Eric. I'm quite certain that the reason Ocean Alexander dropped the 42 Sedan model was as Eric described. To build my boat today would cost 2.5 to 3 times what I paid for a 9 year old OA 42. To buy new is a waste of money when one can buy an older pedigreed boat and fix the warts and pimples for a hell uv a lot less money!
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Old 12-23-2015, 11:33 AM   #24
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There are plenty of "small" trawlers being built today and of course there are many available "pre owned". I don't think you are looking hard enough.
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Old 12-23-2015, 11:41 AM   #25
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From the 1989 Wayback files.... I'm sure someone can do the Inflation equivalency for today were Cape Dory still in business.. My boat is equipped with almost all the "options"....Used value is approx. 50% of new at this point in time..

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Old 12-23-2015, 12:15 PM   #26
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Bay Pelican was sold when new for $85,000 US. The cost of living (CPI) from 1985 to 2015 has increased by 220% so in 2015 dollars the price is $187,000. You cannot even buy the 30 year old Bay Pelican for $187,000 much less an equivalent 2015 build.

At the inflated prices of today's builds fewer people can buy a new build, and those that can seem to go for larger boats.
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Old 12-23-2015, 01:33 PM   #27
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This thread tells me that there is a lot of "seasoned" thinking going on here. Definitely the people here are not frivolous. Many things such as demand, fixed costs, demographics of the market, and profit motive are definitely in the mix when contemplating a product to put into production.

The boat business is similar to my development business as they are both cyciical. This means it's imperative to keep the nut (fixed costs) as low as possible. Also, the housing market has mirrored the boat market in that people have been demanding larger homes. Just as in the boat market, the starter homes for the most part are the used smaller homes built years ago. What ever business it will be market driven, and fixed costs can kill it.

Do I think more economical boats well ever be built again? Probably. Someone may find a way to fill that market. We lost our largest American builders as the boom and bust markets got them. The venerable Mainships and Bayliners are still with us filling that market void.

I am finding in the market that the milleneals are for the most part have fallen out of love with the automobile and material things. They don't so much want to own things that can tie them down. Small is good enough to them as long as they can walk to bars and coffee shops. As their income increases along with taxes, some will undoubtedly change, but they are becoming a larger factor in the market.
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Old 12-23-2015, 01:38 PM   #28
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I agree that there are plenty of smaller cruising boats to choose from.

But I also agree that most manufacturers seem to evolve up in size, not down, and I think it's all about the economics.

When a boat builder gets started, they do so with some baseline of size and build quality. That also establishes a baseline of cost for materials, labor, and equipment. As you look at bigger boats, I don't think the cost goes up as quickly as the value of the finished product. So you can build bigger boats to the same quality level and still make money. But I don't think the reverse is true. I don't think the cost of building a smaller 30' boat vs a 40' is proportional to the price the market will bear for that 30' boat compared to the 40'.

As a result, you see builders like Grand Banks, KK, Nordhavn, Saber, etc. getting bigger in size while maintaining the same overall quality level. They almost never go smaller, or at least not by very much.

Instead, the smaller sizes get filled by builders coming up in size from below. So you see Back Cove filling in below Saber, but at a distinctly different quality level. And you see Grady White and Boston Whaler getting bigger and bigger, but at a quality level that looks more like a traditional Grady than say a Back Cover. And you have the ranger and other "tugs" filling the high 20' to low 40' range, but at a different quality level than a Saber or KK.

Now this has nothing to do with the overall cost of boats today vs years gone by. That's a whole other topic. But I know John has expressed his frustration a number of times that none of the builders he might like to buy from offer smaller boats. I think this is simple economics. Not greed, but just the economics of what works at a livable profit and what doesn't. The boats that are available in the size he desires are plentiful, but at a very different fit and finish level than the KKs, Nordhavns, etc. of the market. It sounds like you successfully found such a boat with tradeoffs that meet your needs, which is great news.
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:11 PM   #29
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There is another factor that hasn't been explicitly discussed. The used boat market. I see that hitting our local boat builders. Over time they have gradually moved "up" in size. One builder started out building 26 footers and now mostly builds 40+ footers. Back when they were building smaller boats they found that after a few years their new builds were competing with their own boats being sold in the used market. People were making the decision to buy a 5 year old boat rather than spend 30-40% more for a new boat. So the builder started building larger models. Wash-rinse-repeat.

Also as stated above, the build time for a boat doesn't vary much from 26 to 35 feet. The per unit costs are higher for the larger boats, but not hugely so. So if you are looking at a new build occupying a space for 6 months would you choose to use that space to build a $100K boat with a 2% profit or a $300K boat with a 2% profit. On top of that options are a profit center. You can sell more expensive options on a $300K boat than on a $100K boat.

Finally, has anyone looked at the asking prices for new small trawler/tug yachts? Taking a look at the Ranger web site is interesting. Ranger's newest model, the outboard powered R-23 starts at $95K, an R-25 is $130K, the R-27 is $160K, the R29 is $210K to $225K and the R31 is $$270K-$280K. A new Nordic 26 starts at $225K. These "small" boats are simply out of reach for most people looking to get into boating. You can buy a lot of boat in the used boat market for a fraction of what a Nordic 26 or Ranger 29 costs.
Congrats!! That is understatement of the year!

Where there is/are 23' to 31' new boats ranging from $95 to 280K (as mentioned above)... carefully shopped, there are really nice 23' to 31' used but well cared for boats ranging from $15K to $25K. In the 34' to 40' used boat market by searching for the correctly cared for and yet low enough priced boat a buyer could still stay in the range of $27K to $50K. Of course there are used boats priced too high too... Keeping a pretty keen eye on market conditions I see the high priced used boats languish for-sale year after year. Eventually their price either drops way down of they get taken off the market.

With all that said: There are simply some people who will settle for nothing less than a brand-new-product; boat or otherwise. That is just not my style.

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Old 12-23-2015, 05:00 PM   #30
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To the OP. Can you be more specific as to the size and type boat you're referring to?
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Old 12-23-2015, 05:30 PM   #31
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I don't know if there is a shortage of smaller trawlers and if is true that builders are not going in that direction it can only be that they are following the $ for in the end its all about where the $ is or is perceived to be. Those builders who cannot follow the $ in terms of boat type quality or price or effective advertising and brand building usually fall by the wayside. Some builders who made good boats fail because they miss out one or more elements of the formula. I also have the perception that builders who establish a brand name jump at the chance to build larger and larger boats dropping the smaller models which made their reputation. My best guess is that there must be more profit potential in the larger boats.
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Old 12-23-2015, 05:32 PM   #32
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Certainly you can buy a used boat for less than a new boat. That should be obvious.


But look at inflation. Cars, trucks, housed, costs have gone up significantly. The boat that sold new for $150K fifteen years ago sells for $260K now. So you can buy that used $150 boat for $100K. You are probably earning one third more in pay than fifteen years ago but of course bread, milk and meat have increased in cost as well.


Don't fall into the trap of forgetting inflation.
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Old 12-23-2015, 05:57 PM   #33
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Certainly you can buy a used boat for less than a new boat. That should be obvious.


But look at inflation. Cars, trucks, housed, costs have gone up significantly. The boat that sold new for $150K fifteen years ago sells for $260K now. So you can buy that used $150 boat for $100K. You are probably earning one third more in pay than fifteen years ago but of course bread, milk and meat have increased in cost as well.


Don't fall into the trap of forgetting inflation.
Independent of inflation, a LOT more people can afford a $100K boat than a $260K boat. As I see it, a quarter of a million for a 30' boat is out of reach for most people.
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Old 12-23-2015, 05:58 PM   #34
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Somewhat related to the new vs. used decision.....

A few years ago I was hired to write a coffee table cookbook for a 120' corporate yacht based here in Seattle. (No, I am not a chef. My idea of cooking is a can opener and my idea of gourmet cooking is a platinum can opener. I was hired for other abilities).

The yacht, an absolutely lovely thing, had been designed by Philip Rhodes and built by Abeking and Rasmussen in Germany in 1966. The captain and I had been discussing the maintenance of a vessel like this, which of course took a considerable effort with two big Cat diesels, two very large Northern Lights generators, the first active stabilizers ever applied to a vessel of this type, and all the other systems associated with a yacht of this size and purpose.

At the pier next to us was a brand new, even larger yacht that was undergoing the commissioning process. I pointed to it and asked if a vessel like that would require far less maintenance than the 1966 yacht we were sitting in.

The captain laughed and said (I'm paraphrasing), "At first, yes. But all the things on this boat that are wearing out and will need fixing or replacing are the same things that are going to wear out and need fixing or replacing on that boat. So in the end, the maintenance costs for that boat will be about the same as they are for this boat."

"And," he added, "a big advantage we have is that this boat has already pulled every trick she's ever going to pull so there are no expensive surprises left in her. That boat hasn't even started to surprise her owner with all the tricks she has in store."

So while buying new certainly has its advantages for those who can afford to do so, buying used also has advantages, particularly if the used boat is of a reputable brand and has been taken care of.
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Old 12-23-2015, 05:59 PM   #35
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Talking to a local boat builder about a month ago I asked the same question whats happened to smaller craft 26 to 30" not been built quick answer was they take about the same time and materials and no one will pay for what they cost to build !
And the reason the smaller boat costs as much to build is that it's being built in a big boat facility. Why was it fine for NT when they started in the 26' boat business and not so fine now? Ranger dosn't have a problen building a 26' boat and selling it at a profit.
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Old 12-23-2015, 06:05 PM   #36
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Why was it fine for NT when they started in the 26' boat business and not so fine now?
My understanding is that as of a couple of years ago or so Nordic Tug put the 26' model back into production. I have no idea how many they have sold.
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Old 12-23-2015, 06:20 PM   #37
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It sort of mirrors what's happened in my business, which is residential development. Fifty years ago, a "starter home" in my market was a two- or three bedroom, one bath, 1,100 square foot rancher with no air conditioning. It may or may not have had an open carport. It certainly would not have had a two-car garage.

Today, a starter home features 1800 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths, a two-car garage and air conditioning. The energy efficiency of the new home is far superior, thanks to better insulation and windows.

A builder in my area cannot make money building yesterday's starter home. New building lots are too expensive and there are too many existing homes on the market. And most buyers buy the biggest house that they can qualify for.
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Old 12-23-2015, 06:37 PM   #38
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And most buyers buy the biggest house that they can qualify for.

And that is where the rubber meets the road. Before the real estate bust a few local builders went belly up trying to develop homes under 2,000 square feet. I was flabbergasted when house shopping then and found 2,800-3,500 square feet was the "norm" for new homes in my area. 4,000 square feet was not at all uncommon. We happily kept our 25 year old 1,200 square footer and remodeled.

The same mentality applied to boating has been the downfall of far more than a few newbie boaters. I've lost track of how many 40-50' "fixer upper" boats I've seen sold then come back on the market, I assume after the new owner finds out what a money pit they bought.
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Old 12-23-2015, 08:08 PM   #39
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Certainly you can buy a used boat for less than a new boat. That should be obvious.


But look at inflation. Cars, trucks, housed, costs have gone up significantly. The boat that sold new for $150K fifteen years ago sells for $260K now. So you can buy that used $150 boat for $100K. You are probably earning one third more in pay than fifteen years ago but of course bread, milk and meat have increased in cost as well.


Don't fall into the trap of forgetting inflation.
IMHO - When shopping for and then finding and then purchasing a good condition used boat... the term inflation has little to do with final price; as long as the buyer is sharp and seller is flexible. Whereas dollar-inflation permeates throughout all new boats... from cost of rudder to engines/tranys to the blinds on windows.

Dealen horses and dealen boats taint too much different; old-world term is "Horse Traden"! One difference is that you are not supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth. Well - - > You better look a gift boat in the mouth (err bilge)... cause if you don't it may become a true hole in the water into which you throw gobs of money.
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Old 12-24-2015, 01:02 AM   #40
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The small trawler business is pretty strong. Ranger Tug sales are booming. Both AT and NT have pretty decent sales numbers reported for the 32 and 34 foot models. Back Cove is doing quite well. North Pacific continues to make decent vessels. Helmsman is moving a few new ones. Yada yada.

The market remains rife with decent 35 to 40 footers in the used recycle bin. John T, they are out there, not sure I understand the concern.
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