Buyers' Guide to Outboard Boats
Selecting and Evaluating New and Used Boats
by David Pascoe
Full text from the book
This book kicks off with a question that one is unlikely to find in the literature on any manufactured product. Are you a good candidate for being a happy boat owner? I ask it for one very simple reason: Far too may people spend huge sums of money on a boat, only to discover the hard way that they didn’t have time for it, couldn’t really afford it, or just plain don’t like boats as much as they thought they might. Tens of thousands of dollars is a lot to spend on an experiment. For that reason we start by taking a hard look at what boat ownership is all about in the first chapter.
During my three decades of work consulting with boat buyers, it has become abundantly clear to me that the boat buying public needs more information than they are getting. The idea of writing a boat buyers’ guide came to me about 10 years ago, but it has taken me all these years to figure out how to execute it. In large part, the reason for this is because of the huge variety of boats out there. My idea of what would constitute a good buyer’s guide is more than just brief descriptions of the available products; that’s been done. Yet our email box receives thousands of letters from our web site www.yachtsurvey.com every year with prospective buyers asking where they can obtain definitive information on a particular type of boat they are contemplating buying.
Most people are amazed when I tell them that there are no such reliable sources available. Most folks don’t fully grasp the fact that the boat building industry, despite the fact that it produces very large and expensive products, is a marginal industry. As industries go, it is small and highly vulnerable to economic downturns. What that means is that there is not a huge amount of money to be made on producing information, much as one finds with the auto industry.
Name any particular style boat and one can come up with literally hundreds of different builders over the years. There are simply too many small companies building small numbers of boats for anyone to be able to examine, test and provide reliable information about what amounts to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of boats. Ultimately, this means that all anyone has to rely upon when considering a purchase is his own knowledge and ability to evaluate the caliber of a boat. Unless, of course, one chooses to hire a professional to do that.
The idea of writing such a book seemed easy in theory but in reality runs smack into a problem similar to people attempting to perform a medical self-diagnosis. It takes a physician over a decade of training to become a good doctor. Developing a truly useful buyers’ guide is not too far off attempting to teach boat buyers to perform marine surveys.
Indeed, within limits, the purpose of this book is to teach you how to evaluate boats for yourself. While some surveyors might complain that I am attempting to put them out of business, that is far from the truth. When it comes to small boats, I would estimate that at least 95% of used outboard boats are purchased without a survey. Buying a used boat without a survey is not a smart thing to do. Unfortunately, most marine surveyors are not much interested in the small boat market because most surveyors feel that the fee a small boat buyer is willing to pay is too low.
With these realities in mind, the ideas for this book began to blossom. Ultimately, I realized that there are two main difficulties: (1) I can’t make surveyors out of boat buyers, and (2) any book that deals with the subject of how to check out a boat thoroughly before purchase would necessarily cover an awful lot of technical detail and therefore runs the risk of overwhelming the first-time buyer with technicalities. Too much detail without experience leads only to confusion.
For those who are seeking quick and easy solutions to the problem of too many choices, rest assured that there aren’t any. The most frequently asked question is, "Who builds the best boats?" This is a question for which no one has the answer, for one has to ask, "In what year"? The simple fact is that consistency of quality is one of the industry’s greatest problem. As this is being written, the national economy is in recession. Hundreds of boat builders will be going broke, while many others are struggling to survive. Will that have an effect on quality? You can bet it will.
Then there are issues that revolve around the maxim that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. What is acceptable quality to one, is not to another. Indeed, it’s an open question as to how long a boat should be made to last. Should they be like cars and end up going to the grinder within ten years? Traditionally, we expect boats to last longer than that, if not because they are so expensive, then it’s because we don’t have the habit of changing them like dirty socks.
Today there are a fairly large number of builders turning out high end, very high quality center console boats. These are boats that typically sell for close to $100,000 and more. They are boats that are built to last, as boats should be built. However, one should understand that these boats will outlast wooden boats by a long shot. Thus, their value is far greater than what the industry standard was fifty years ago. Indeed, there are many good quality boats built back in the 1970’s that people find worthwhile refurbishing, so that the life expectancy of well designed, good quality boats can be measured in decades.
The reader will find that throughout this book I frequently make reference to the standards that high end builders employ. When it comes to a boat, if one wants it to last, and not be faced with high maintenance costs, things must be done right, and with top quality materials. The plain fact of boating life is that second rate materials don’t last the way we’d like. It is therefore by necessity that boats are judged by the standards of the best, not the least.
Virtually all of us who are not rich, and cannot afford the absolute best, are faced with the difficulty of compromising with the devil, e.g. the second and third best. Whether one is contemplating a new or used boat, the purpose of this book is to educate the reader sufficiently to be able to make his own intelligent decisions. Along the way, I will occasionally offer my own opinions on various issues.
The bottom line on boating is that it is an expensive hobby, sport, recreation or whatever you want to call it. It used to be called "yachting" and was once considered the exclusive sport of the very rich. Then an industry developed that did its best to turn it into a mass recreation, attempting to put a boat in every garage or slip. Judging from some of the emails I get, there are those who believe that they have a God-given right to a good quality boat at a price they can afford. They are entitled to their beliefs, but there is no agency yet established that forces boat builders to do so.
With the Internet Bubble and the Enron debacle, and the stock market in general, we’ve seen what can happen when people buy things without knowledge. The word to the wise when buying a boat is caveat emptor. After reading this book, I am confident that you will be.
Don’t get disillusioned; get educated. After all, boating can be a lot of fun, particularly when you can afford to own what you own.
David H. Pascoe
Copyright 2002 David H. Pascoe
Copyright© 2002 David H. Pascoe
- Selecting and Evaluating New and Used Boats
by David H. Pascoe
Publisher: D. H. Pascoe & Co., Inc.
David Pascoe - Biography
David Pascoe is a second generation marine surveyor in his family who began his surveying career at age 16 as an apprentice in 1965 as the era of wooden boats was drawing to a close.
Certified by the National Association of Marine Surveyors in 1972, he has conducted over 5,000 pre purchase surveys in addition to having conducted hundreds of boating accident investigations, including fires, sinkings, hull failures and machinery failure analysis.
Over forty years of knowledge and experience are brought to bear in following books. David Pascoe is the author of:
- "Mid Size Power Boats" (2003)
- "Buyers’ Guide to Outboard Boats" (2002)
- "Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats" (2001, 2nd Edition - 2005)
- "Marine Investigations" (2004).
In addition to readers in the United States, boaters and boat industry professionals worldwide from over 70 countries have purchased David Pascoe's books, since introduction of his first book in 2001.
In 2012, David Pascoe has retired from marine surveying business at age 65.