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Old 09-06-2014, 02:53 PM   #1
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Where will the trawler market go?

Marin made an interesting comment the other day.

“I may be totally off base with my observation, but it seems like more and more boats are going up for sale as the baby boomers start to get up in years where dealing with a boat becomes too much of a hassle or effort…”

With the baby boomers retiring at 10,000/day for the next 2 decades, I would think the market should be good for the near future. They all aren’t going to be driving RV’s. It's true that the price of new trawlers is in the stratosphere, but the more affordable ones are older and getting older.
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Old 09-06-2014, 06:25 PM   #2
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Good for us, we're shopping for The One. I'm the last year of the boomers so I have a good chunk of time to go yet, hunting for a good deal.
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Old 09-06-2014, 08:24 PM   #3
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Good for us, we're shopping for The One. I'm the last year of the boomers so I have a good chunk of time to go yet, hunting for a good deal.
Maybe you ought to start looking before us early boomers use-up what's left!
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Old 09-06-2014, 08:30 PM   #4
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They are out there! The best info I got when looking was an introduction (re introduction actually) to the hazards of wood, foam and balsa cored hulls.

There is such a plethora of TERRIBLE stuff out there with delamination, soaked cores, rotten cores and fastener issues that it is well worth fully investigating and passing up the 'deal of the century' when it involves water in the hull.
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Old 09-06-2014, 08:33 PM   #5
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Trawler Market Direction

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Originally Posted by meridian View Post
Marin made an interesting comment the other day.

“I may be totally off base with my observation, but it seems like more and more boats are going up for sale as the baby boomers start to get up in years where dealing with a boat becomes too much of a hassle or effort…”

With the baby boomers retiring at 10,000/day for the next 2 decades, I would think the market should be good for the near future. They all aren’t going to be driving RV’s. It's true that the price of new trawlers is in the stratosphere, but the more affordable ones are older and getting older.
This is a subject which I have spent more than a few hours thinking about and continues to show one direction - larger boats. If we are talking about full displacement boats the trend to larger boats by the builders is apparent. The big three recreational players are not coming out with any new designs (boats under 50') and some have already started to retire their smaller models. With a FD even in the 40' range running over $700K its no surprise they are not selling many new boats. I see the under 50' market going away. Just my thoughts.
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Old 09-06-2014, 08:46 PM   #6
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The so called trawler market wheezed out of business a long time ago. Anything now can be called a trawler as the marketing guys see fit. The last vestiges of the trawler market for new builds resides with (costs in descending order) Nordhavn, Selene, KK, DeFever, North Pacific, Northwest, Buehler, Seahorse and I can't recall who else.

It is a tough market as few want to go slow for that 20 mile jaunt to the "island" or beach. So they buy a Fleming, GB, etc go fast and pretend they are trawlers for bragging rights so no one brings up their 30 gph 16 knot cruising rate.

Or better yet a Dashew FPB where speed and efficiency merge.
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Old 09-06-2014, 09:52 PM   #7
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There are a lot of conflicting factors shaping that market for mid sized moderate speed cruising pleasure boats.

Right now the market of available boats less than 10 years old is relatively small and those less than 5 years old is extremely short of boats. Recognize sales since 2008 have been greatly deflated so there will be a period of relatively few boats.

For all those aging out, there are others aging into boats.

As you move into 20 and 30 year old boats they may well be in better condition than they were. Less wood, different construction techniques. On the other hand for all the more durable construction, there are a lot of boats right now being abused with lack of maintenance.

There will be fewer full displacement boats simply because the market of new boats has shifted. But then fewer people will be seeking them as well.

I think it's just going to be so mixed that in total it won't be much different. In 2030 you'll look back and the market will have a large quantity of boats build in 2004-2008 but then a huge shortage of those built in 2009-2012. And some of the brands we're buying used now will be distant memories.
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Old 09-06-2014, 10:08 PM   #8
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Not easy to predict this market for many of the above stated reasons. What will a major bump in the economy do? It will most likely clamp down on new construction, but what about older boats? Will prices dive sharply and provide bargains for the brave and will fear just load the market with older boats too expensive for their owners to maintain and too costly to recondition by those who can't do it themselves? More than likely there will be moving targets and micro markets and pockets in the overall picture. In many ways similar to the gyrations of the stock market with the added sellers and buyers age related factors.
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Old 09-06-2014, 10:33 PM   #9
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I wish I were brave enough to take on an older trawler. By older, I mean a wooden hull. I've seen about 4 around me with beautiful lines and wooden, but I've heard to many horror stories.

I hope they start selling these gently used ones so guys like me can break into the trawler world. I love being on the water, but I can't do a $200k boat.
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Old 09-06-2014, 10:45 PM   #10
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With the middle class struggling I don't see the boating market going anywhere but down. I know in the Great Lakes there are less boat on the water and newer boats are not replacing the older retired boat to any level. The problem is with out healthy boating communities the water access is shut down and business close up. Who wants to go to a harbor only to find they have no sense of boating any more! I feel there always be some boats but without a critical mass it will take most of the fun out of it.
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Old 09-07-2014, 01:02 AM   #11
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You may as well add "insurability" to the pot. With the older but valuable KK's, it's already a challenge to get companies that will cover the boats for their age and value.
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Old 09-07-2014, 01:23 AM   #12
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With the middle class struggling I don't see the boating market going anywhere but down.
...
I agree. That's why the very high priced end of the market is doing better than the rest of the market. Lots of new large boats offered for sale (over 50 feet LOA), but not so much the "middle class" 30 to 40 LOA boats.
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Old 09-07-2014, 01:55 AM   #13
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Locally I was absent from the boating scene for roughly 30 years before returning a couple years ago. When my dad had his houseboat we had our choice of well over 100 marinas, dozens of service yards, fuel docks everywhere, and tons of fellow active boaters enjoying the waters. Activity everywhere and the camaraderie was great.

Fast forward 30 years and plying these same rivers and sloughs is reminiscent of a John Steinbeck novel. Derelict boats, marinas, service yards, RV parks, the rental fleets are largely gone and very few really well kept marinas left. One entire former thriving boating community with lots of former upscale homes and marinas is largely a ghost town filled with poverty stricken drug addicts. Former proud marinas have weeds growing where the busy docks once where and dead head logs are what's left of launch ramps. River side bars and bistros once packed are no longer.

It can all return someday but it will take decades of investment and development to restore lost infrastructure and that means a thriving economy flush with disposable, recreational income... Where will the trawler market be, not here likely. At least locally to this area.
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Old 09-07-2014, 02:48 AM   #14
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When it comes to long term market trends, I am still amazed at what people will spend on boats. I have a relative, late 30's, they spent more than an entire year's income on a boat - financed for 15 years. I go to boat shows and I'm still amazed at what people will pay for new boats. We enjoy a very nice annual income, we could swing a six figure boat, but instead we bought one for less than 10% of our annual income (distress sale, very good deal) no boat payments for a hundred years, and we have the money left to maintain it and improve it very well. To me, if people are sensible, that should be the trend - a small, very high end market, and then a broad and steady market of old, big boats that have been maintained or restored well.
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:52 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by SaltyDawg86 View Post
I wish I were brave enough to take on an older trawler. By older, I mean a wooden hull. I've seen about 4 around me with beautiful lines and wooden, but I've heard to many horror stories.

I hope they start selling these gently used ones so guys like me can break into the trawler world. I love being on the water, but I can't do a $200k boat.
you could always do this...

Hendo's Randall 35 Cray Boat complete rebuild, Perth, Western Australia

My story...had to get something quick on a severly depleted budget...

I got a mediocre trawler with a freshly rebuilt Lehman for under 60K.

After 3 years of part time labor and living aboard, I'll have dropped maybe 20K into her and every system, window and surface on her will be new or new with a few timeless parts.

All my labor.... including the complete layer of epoxy and cloth on the bottom and barrier coat.

Since buying it..lived aboard, worked 8 months then cruised 4 months in the winter. So even boats needing a lot of work don't need to be in the way of changing your lifestyle.
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Old 09-07-2014, 08:43 AM   #16
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Here's another take on the future of trawlers. If you look at the automotive industry over the last 50 years, you see several times where each manufacturer tried to build a nicer and more expensive car than the year before. Then a hiccup would occur where the economy would go into recession or the price of fuel would skyrocket. Many of the manufacturers would go backwards to build a less expensive or more fuel efficient car and the cycle would begin again. I could see a boating manufacturer going back and building a 30' no frills trawler and being the equivalent of the Volkswagen Beetle. A simple boat, with one stateroom simple galley and head with shower, single 40 hp diesel. No air conditioning, no genset, nothing fancy or elaborate. Let the consumer dress it up as they want.

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Old 09-07-2014, 09:54 AM   #17
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Where will the trawler market go?

From my knowledge, this same issue showed up twice in the past 50 years. Once when the age of plywood took over traditional plank and frame construction and then again when fiberglass overtook both plank and frame and plywood.

The change in technology was one defining moment in yacht construction. Then once the 'welcraft' ''carver' Clorox bottle boats started to be built scanty and poorly reinforced it made a long term hull very hard to find. Of course, the connection between brands was, the lower they could make the selling price point the more sales they could make. The less fiberglass and resin ($$) they could use, and the more plywood or foam core they could use (cheap) the more profit they could make per boat. So, finding a boat that is built properly is a challenge.

Add to this the financial meltdown of 2008 (which was really no different than the dot.com bust, or the 1980 21% interest rate boom) adds the cycle of lack of 'fun money' by the middle class. If there's no one to buy, no one can sell. Thus, the manufacturers go out of business.

What I see as the issue, (as mentioned) is the great separation of income, from the people who in reality have never been hurt by 2008, that has decimated the small ( by my standards) yacht market. In 10 to 20 years there WON'T be any 20 to 30 year old boats around for the 'newbie' to buy. There will (by then) be the occasional 50 year old, Or the 10 year old boats.

These cheaply made "Trawlers" will be a relic of times passed (and past). As well as less and less of them to choose from.

I started off mentioning the change from wood to plywood to glass. Being part of a small boat building family from the '50's through the ''80's I lived through the change. I saw (grew up with) and heard many conversations between my father and customers fretting over the change In technology, expectations and realizations that were happening. Boats that were built in the '60's are still kicking. While boats built in the '90's are getting sawn up and thrown into shredders! Of course, not all. But there are some that are so far gone they are hopeless. Usually due to crappy build or repairs.

There is an axiom in old used boat shopping: The used boat is only worth the power plant.

Meaning, the hull becomes almost not a calculation in value and worth. Unless the engine is up to snuff, the hull isn't worth consideration. But. Without a seaworthy hull all is for naught. A new engine is about 50% of the used boat value. Even with a good hull, if the engine is shot, move on. There are more to pick and choose from.

Getting back on topic. Because of the lack of new boats being built now, there will be less and less to choose from in 20 years. Less to pick between, less power plants to pick from. Less options.

Pick yours now. Enjoy, and don't worry about what will happen in 20!years!
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Old 09-07-2014, 10:04 AM   #18
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Here's another take on the future of trawlers. If you look at the automotive industry over the last 50 years, you see several times where each manufacturer tried to build a nicer and more expensive car than the year before. Then a hiccup would occur where the economy would go into recession or the price of fuel would skyrocket. Many of the manufacturers would go backwards to build a less expensive or more fuel efficient car and the cycle would begin again. I could see a boating manufacturer going back and building a 30' no frills trawler and being the equivalent of the Volkswagen Beetle. A simple boat, with one stateroom simple galley and head with shower, single 40 hp diesel. No air conditioning, no genset, nothing fancy or elaborate. Let the consumer dress it up as they want.

Ted
I see some of the builders missing the mark by not having some of their old models. Grand Banks is one example. Their smallest today is 43' but some of their greatest success was in boats under that size. If you look today at the under 40' market, you do have some tugs, but really you have one very dominant builder we often overlook. Not a trawler but this is what people buy when wanting their first overnight or weekend boat. That's Sea Ray. They have 7 models between 26' and 37'. Carver has 3 between 34' and 40'. Cruisers has 3 below 40'. Four Winns has five below 40'.

For a lot of people the path is 20-30' runabout, then 30'-40' cruiser of some sort. Then followed by slower and bigger often or more laid out for cruising.
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Old 09-07-2014, 12:18 PM   #19
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Locally I was absent from the boating scene for roughly 30 years before returning a couple years ago. When my dad had his houseboat we had our choice of well over 100 marinas, dozens of service yards, fuel docks everywhere, and tons of fellow active boaters enjoying the waters. Activity everywhere and the camaraderie was great.

Fast forward 30 years and plying these same rivers and sloughs is reminiscent of a John Steinbeck novel. Derelict boats, marinas, service yards, RV parks, the rental fleets are largely gone and very few really well kept marinas left. One entire former thriving boating community with lots of former upscale homes and marinas is largely a ghost town filled with poverty stricken drug addicts. Former proud marinas have weeds growing where the busy docks once where and dead head logs are what's left of launch ramps. River side bars and bistros once packed are no longer.

It can all return someday but it will take decades of investment and development to restore lost infrastructure and that means a thriving economy flush with disposable, recreational income... Where will the trawler market be, not here likely. At least locally to this area.
Well said, but it also helps me understand Florida and the Chesapeake. I was really disappointed in that these places may have once been boating communities, but now were not.

New England still is.

Sadly, I don't see any of it coming back.
The market has changed. Clear
Florida is all about a market I can never be a part of.

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Old 09-07-2014, 12:31 PM   #20
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The good boat brokers I know well have had a few very good years now. They don't sell junk and stick to what will sell based upon their recent experiences.

It is an expensive hobby (always has been) if one is seeking a nice used newer vessel, and not all wannabees are willing to pay for a good boat. Witness all the recent boat buying guys and gals on this forum looking for perfect vessels for a unrealistically low price.

In the PNW there is no shortage of good vessels, but not at a Walmart price. The shortage is on the buyer's side - insufficient funds. So yes blame the economy for inflating boat prices and stagnant jobs/wages. Don't forget though, builders only do what the market desires. The money paying market has not desired a 30 to 40 foot new build displacement trawler for many years, so naturally they won't show up used.
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