If you’re thinking about buying a boat, you might be wondering why they’re so expensive.
As someone who has spent considerable time on boats and working with brokers to sell boats, I can attest that they are a lot of fun, but unfortunately (These days) a lot more expensive than they used to be.
From purchasing to maintaining and repairing, anything to do with a boat will cost more.
Old Saying: The best boat is your friend’s boat!
In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons why boats are expensive and what you can do to make the most of your investment.
Reason 1: Engines
The biggest reason boats are more expensive today is that boat owners want to go faster!
20 or 30 years ago, it was rare to see triple or quad outboard motors on a center console boat. In 2023, 4 outboards seem to be standard on a boat, and seeing 5 or 6 outboards is becoming more and more common.
Were starting to have to learn the vocabulary of how you count more outboards: 5 is Quint, and 6 is Sext (That could be trouble)
The craze for power and speed hasn’t stopped with the smaller boats either. Even the larger Sportfishing Boats are more expensive due to a “Need For Speed.”
Back in the day, a sportfishing boat topping out at 25 or 30 knots was a rocket ship. Now, sportfish builders are hitting speeds of 45 or 50 knots on boats as big as 80ft!
Obviously, all of that speed and power comes at a considerable cost, and when you factor in how much technology goes into a modern boat engine vs. the rudimentary versions from 40 years ago,
You begin to see why boats have gotten to be more expensive and why the motors could possibly be the biggest reason.
Reason 2: Size
If you’re going to spend money going faster, why not spend twice as much on the boat and be comfortable too?!
The second reason boats are so expensive, and arguably also the main reason along with engines, is that owners want bigger boats. I remember when owning a 30ft Center console or a 50 foot sportfish was being on top of the world.
Now, Scout just announced the launch of a 67 foot Center Console and Sportfish builders are routinely breaking the 100ft mark.
As you can imagine, the bigger the boat:
- The more labor and time it takes to build
- The more supplies needed to build
- The more power you will need in the form of more/bigger engines.
- And so on…
By now, you are probably getting a good grasp of why boats are so expensive, but there’s more!
Materials and Construction
Another significant factor that affects the price of a boat is the materials and construction.
Boats are typically made from high-quality materials, such as fiberglass, aluminum, and stainless steel. These materials are designed to withstand harsh marine environments and last many years.
Additionally, the construction of the boat is typically labor-intensive, which adds to the cost. Handcrafted boats, in particular, can be quite expensive due to the craftsmanship involved.
Maintenance and Upkeep
Owning a boat isn’t just about the initial cost of the purchase.
Boats also require regular maintenance and upkeep, which can add to the overall cost. For instance, you’ll need to keep the boat clean, perform routine maintenance on the engine and other systems, and store the boat during the off-season.
These costs can add up quickly, so it’s important to factor them into your budget.
Supply and Demand
Finally, like most anything you buy, supply and demand directly relate to the high cost of boats.
In an average year alone, there are seasonal swings to boating industry costs that affect everything from the boats themselves to the parts that go into them. For example:
- During the fall months and into the winter, boats are at their cheapest.
- During the Spring, boat prices spike dramatically.
- May and June are the peaks of boat prices.
Making matters worse:
Since 2020, and the decrease in the reliability of the supply chain, the cost of boats has increased dramatically. As of today, boats are at their highest cost that most people can remember while also being harder to find than at any time in history.
We are hoping this levels out a little in 2023, but there is no telling how long the supply and demand ratio will remain out of whack.
In conclusion, if you were shocked by the sticker prices you see on Sportfishtrader for used boats, or the number of zeroes on billboards at the local boat show, you probably have a better understanding of why those boats are as expensive as they are.
As with anything in any segment of the economy, there is a reason.
The bottom line: The price for anything is based on what someone is willing to pay for it, and there are plenty of people still willing to pay for a very expensive boat in 2023!