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The rise and fall of the UK boat market

by Ianfs » 15 Aug 2021, 17:27

A couple of days ago I was searching through YouTube, where brokers film boats for sale and I came across a boat I looked at 4 yrs ago.

It was a Sealine S28 1997 and was advertised at £59,995, needless to say I fell off my chair because in 2017 the owner had it on Apollo Duck for £45,000 and would have taken £39k. We looked at it then and were impressed, but walked away on the advice of a well respected Volvo Engineer due to the engine modifications. Turns out it had had new Turbo's and extensive engine work.
Being as this was a '97 I took a look at a few more and there was another at £62k.
I did some further searches of similar boats and the surge continued, for example a Fairline Targa 29, 4 yrs ago at £45k now is £60k.

Now obviously in the wonderful world of hindsight we should have just bought anything, but who would have known Covid would happen and the rise in boat prices too as 4 years ago prices were fairly static.

This surge in boat prices is also going on in the US, but how long will it last but more importantly how as it happened? It is undoubtedly due to the Coronavirus with more people not going abroad or not buying houses abroad but having staycations, but I do wonder where the money is coming from in such great numbers, especially when people have lost jobs and companies have folded.

Back in March/April last year at the start of the pandemic and then lockdown, there were lots of articles from boat owners suggesting a drop in the economy would affect luxury items and of course luxury items are the first to go and this has bee true throughout my lifetime. However when a boat has gone on the market
both last year and this, it sells for silly money almost immediately. Again I would ask where is this money coming from in such great numbers especially when businesses have been closed and people are losing there jobs?

If anyone has any thoughts on this I would love to hear.
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by Doc Oakley » 16 Aug 2021, 05:22

It's a mystery - and has been most of my boating life (>40 years) - where the money comes from to fill marinas with all the exotica one sees, recessions/pandemics/whatever! I have a pretty well-paid job, well above the national average and yet I've been - with one exception - a 2nd hand boat man. It's also true to say I don't do loans or credit cards (as a general rule - have had loans for house works) or HP. But like you, I'd noted prices of boats just continually rising: as it is a 'significant birthday' next January, I was going to go to Southampton BS and maybe blow some savings on a new boat or maybe a nice used craft, but I think I might just stay with what I've got, based on the maxim that small boats can be a lot of fun. But, you know, with some dealers - and one I watch is Idealboat in Pwllheli - there's a pretty solid turnover of 2nd hand craft, so money's out there...
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by Ianfs » 17 Aug 2021, 18:07

Yes you have certainly hit the nail on the head about how people can afford thousands of pounds worth of boat through recessions etc.

I know when I was young my father had sold several of the family houses and by that time he had bought a larger boat, but that was at a time when houses were cheaper and boats were not. Then houses started to rise but boats did not.

When I bought my first house it was very cheap in comparison to todays house prices, but importantly, wages were not, so percentage wise we lived on boxes for a while.

What I cannot understand is that during the initial announcement about Covid around Dec 19 and Mar20 boat prices continued to rise. During the pandemic and lock downs, they still rose, but why in a supposed recession and when people were in lockdown and on Ferlough???
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by ian h » 17 Aug 2021, 20:52

I was at the Hunton owners meeting in Cowes over the weekend, and there was talk of the boat market stalling, Prices are not going up but owners still thinking their boats are worth more, The thought was that give it a few months are there will be more boats up for sale, and prices will slowly fall back a bit,

second hand car market has gone mad during lockdown as well, Demand has outstripped supply pushing second hand prices up for all brands.
Think some people have dipped into savings and gone for it, no point in being the riches in the cemetery. can not take it with you, Enjoy it now while you can,

I did pop my head in Saxon Wharf on Friday on way to Isle of Wight and was surprised how empty the dry stack appeared to be,
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by joydivision » 18 Aug 2021, 13:31

I had a similar experience. We're currently looking at buying another boat after selling our Regal a few years ago. I've been having a look at Sealine S23/S25's and I found a buying guide in the August 2017 edition of Motor Boat owner. There were a number of adverts alongside the article and I noticed that one of the boats advertised is currently up for sale again. August 2017 £29k, now £33k and this is one of the cheaper examples out there.

I think we'll be holding off buying something for a while yet. hopefully the prices will come down over the winter.
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by Ianfs » 19 Aug 2021, 14:25

ian h wrote:I was at the Hunton owners meeting in Cowes over the weekend, and there was talk of the boat market stalling, Prices are not going up but owners still thinking their boats are worth more, The thought was that give it a few months are there will be more boats up for sale, and prices will slowly fall back a bit,

second hand car market has gone mad during lockdown as well, Demand has outstripped supply pushing second hand prices up for all brands.
Think some people have dipped into savings and gone for it, no point in being the riches in the cemetery. can not take it with you, Enjoy it now while you can,

I did pop my head in Saxon Wharf on Friday on way to Isle of Wight and was surprised how empty the dry stack appeared to be,


Sounds about right Ian, do you think that Covid has made people realise how fragile life can be?
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by ian h » 22 Aug 2021, 20:15

Ianfs wrote:
ian h wrote:
Sounds about right Ian, do you think that Covid has made people realise how fragile life can be?


I know that at work several people have been thinking long and hard about what they want from life,

2 people have already taken the plunge , both below 60 , 1 retired early and the other moved away and took a less stressful job .

As you know we have been thinking of following them, A house came up on the Isle of Wight on Friday evening by the time we called estate agent Saturday they had 20 arranged viewings and had removed the listing .

Was not to be this time but still looking
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by Ianfs » 25 Aug 2021, 20:11

As you know we have been thinking of following them, A house came up on the Isle of Wight on Friday evening by the time we called estate agent Saturday they had 20 arranged viewings and had removed the listing . Was not to be this time but still looking


As you know Ian, we looked at the Island but for us at the time it didn't work. We also had close family friends who moved there and had cottages they rented very successfully. I also had family who lived there for many years, but have since moved to Dorset. Each had there reasons for moving away but none of them were because of the Island itself.

The Island does have so much to offer in terms of a slower pace of life and value for buck, as it were! We could have bought a much larger house with 2 acres for the same as we bought on the mainland and the pace of life is so much slower.

Good luck with your search and I hope you end up with something you both love and enjoy.
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by shibbs » 29 Aug 2021, 11:47

Prices are ridiculous at the moment. I want to go larger, but the 30-35ft range I am looking at have pretty much all gone up by about £20k.
It’s all relative as mine would have increased a touch also but the choice of boats available simply isn’t good enough at the moment.
Best bet would be to sell now and leave it for a while until boats start to come available again.
As many have said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the true cost and hassle of storing and maintains a boat over the winters will put some for sale soon. But will they have been neglected on that theory.
Time will tell, but surely prices will fall again…
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by argonaut » 11 Oct 2021, 22:03

How has it happened”

Big part of the issues that US manufacturing shut down fully for some months in early 2020 and even on start up were on significant reduced output.

I have a FourWinns and that manufacturer advised at the end of last year no more orders for 2021 all manufacturing slots taken.
This means a lot less used boats coming onto the market.

Price hikes are just people putting prices up to make up for a bad 2020.

I am admin on a FB boat sales group, see many boats not selling and price going up by 5k the next months, a lot of greed about.

As said in thread … I think 2 things will happen … people will be left with overpriced boats and prices will drop to sell. Plus many will find true cost of ownership in terms of money & effort does not always balance with limited days of use.
Last edited by argonaut on 19 Oct 2021, 21:10, edited 1 time in total.
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