Links to Chapters:
Types: Which is Right for You?
Boats, New Boats and Quality
and Sea Keeping
Finishes and Surface Defects
The Engine Room
& Plumbing Systems
Controls, Systems & Equipment
The Art of the Deal
The Survey & Post Survey
Boat Builders by Company
Full text from the book
Having spent over
three decades giving advice to buyers of both new and used boats,
this book contains my answers to the most commonly asked questions.
Were this a simple subject, this would have been a short book, but
it is not. Boats are probably the largest, most complex and costly
consumer products that anyone can buy.
Because boats are so very expensive, it pays to
perform considerable research before you buy. Unfortunately, as
most experienced boat buyers will attest, there are all too few
good sources to turn to in order to get reliable information. There
are, of course, innumerable sources offering boat reviews, most
of which nearly everyone recognizes as being little more than advertising
puff pieces offered by writers associated with publications that
derive their income from advertising. As with stock brokers, these
are hardly objective sources of advice.
Mid Size Power Boats covers powerboats
from around 30 to 55 feet or so. Unlike most other books so styled,
this book contains serious criticism of today’s boats and
the boat building industry in general. In it we take an unabridged
and detailed look at the good, the bad and the ugly. My objective
is not to offer gratuitous criticism, but to identify those factors
that make for good and reliable boats, as well as those that don’t.
We can only put what’s right into perspective by knowing what’s
wrong, and why it’s wrong.
Gaining a knowledge about the industry, its strengths
and weaknesses will help you make better choices. It is for that
reason that I’ve gone to considerable length to explain why
things are the way they are.
The truth of the matter is that the boat building
industry is today, and has always been, a grossly undercapitalized
and marginal industry. Its products have never been, and never will
be, as high quality and reliable as we’d like them to. Boat
building thrives in boom times but usually collapses and goes bankrupt
during the lean years. The industry is, to say the least, unstable.
This is not anyone’s fault; this is inherent in the fact that
boat builders produce our most expensive discretionary spending
product, and are always the first to feel the effects of economic
downturns, but are the last to recover after the economy does.
Many buyers, particularly first time buyers, figure
that if they’re spending a quarter million dollars or more
for a product, that they have a right to expect it to be reliable
and of good quality. This entire book is a testament to just how
wrong that assumption can be. My objective is to help the reader
navigate his way through this swamp of industry economic difficulties
that ultimately end up being reflected in the product itself.
In contemplating the purchase of a boat, the buyer
has a lot of serious choices to make. While almost all boats look
good, particularly new ones, the reality is that there are huge
differences to be considered on issues of style and performance.
During the last decade, boat building has undergone
huge changes in everything from the style of the boats it produces,
the nature of its corporate ownership, quality and materials used
in construction. Many of these changes have not been for the better
as the industry has largely consolidated into the hands of two big
corporations — Brunswick and Genmar — which has resulted
in increasing homogeneity, less in the way of product differentiation,
more and more cookie-cutter boats that all seem to look alike, and
fewer and fewer choices.
Not only have boat builders consolidated, but so,
too, has the number of distinct styles of boats. We’ve witnessed
the express style boat come to completely dominate the market, while
other styles, such as the motor yacht, almost completely disappear,
a casualty of sophisticated marketing that induces all the lemmings
to run in the same direction. Corporate boat building has become
affected by the same malaise as the auto industry — mind-numbing
Every year as many existing boaters give up boating
as new people enter boating. Studies reveal that over the last two
decades the total number of registered boats has actually declined
from a high of 22 million in 1987 to the current level of 19 million.
The most common reason expressed by those who sell their boats without
buying another is a combination of boating being too expensive and
too much work. Therefore, one of the central themes of this book
is how to identify boats that are more durable and less costly to
While one might think that boats have become progressively
less maintenance intensive and less costly, the opposite has been
true. In large part this has been the result of the increasing demands
for luxury and complexity of boats. People want all the bells and
whistles. The average boat today is substantially more complex than
it was twenty years ago, and more costly, too.
The cost of ownership is directly linked to quality
and sophistication. The fancier the boat, the more equipment and
systems it has, the more it’s going to cost to keep all those
things in good working order. And quite naturally, when we demand
low initial costs, it goes without saying that the quality of all
those bells and whistles will also be lower, meaning that they aren’t
as durable and ultimately cost more to own because it costs more
to keep it all in good condition.
This book details a large number of mistakes that
builders are prone to make. At first, the reader may feel overwhelmed
by the number of possibilities. In planning this book, I had to
make a decision whether to risk overwhelming the reader and possibly
discouraging him, or leaving a lot of important detail out. In the
end, I decided to err on the side of excess.
On reading to the end, the reader will, no doubt,
come to see how it’s difficult for even a competent surveyor
to check out all possibilities. Hopefully this will convince you
of the need to hire a top notch surveyor before you buy.
David H. Pascoe
Copyright 2003 David H. Pascoe
Description | Contents
Size Power Boats"
in 2003 by
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