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The classic fiberglass runabout fleet in the USA is being threatened !

April 6 2018 at 8:00 PM
Paul  (no login)

On a recent trip to Florida I was appalled to see literally "thousands" of new fiberglass boats lined up at road-side dealerships, and every single one of them had a Yamaha outboard. Almost every one of the boats was of a similar design, center console, open boat, fairly dry design, no style and looking pretty generic. What is this world coming to ??

I guess this means the good hunting for classic fiberglass boats is on the back roads. Didn't see a one.

Our classic fiberglass boats are quickly becoming something of the past. I didn't see one, not even one mid engine inboard boat the whole time I was there. I did see some larger yachts that looked pretty traditional in design, and one in particular looked like a 42 Commander Tournament Fisherman.

This means there is a fairly large population of durable classic Chris-Craft runabout style boats, of inboard and outdrive configurations, that has reached their "shelf life" and in need of some kind of attention, and they are most likely found sitting out behind a boat lot, in barns, pastures, etc., just waiting for someone who "can do" to come by and give them a new life. This means they are likely available for a good price too.

The feedback I have already received from my boating inner circles suggests this is the wave of the future, and that having an outboard from Japan is the way to go because the Yamaha seems to be the best thing on the market in an outboard today. It would not be very fitting to see a classic outboard Chris-Craft with a Yamaha motor, even though it's apparently a great product.

In addition, I looked up a 300-horsepower Yamaha outboard and it's listed at $30,000. This is not a typo, I said THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS for anoutboard motor. What does that tell you ??

One thing it tells me is our hobby is facing some changing times, and seeing a fiberglass classic at a boat show may be something special in the future.

I understand this may be somewhat of a Florida thing, where people want to get on the water, go fast to fishing grounds, and get back fast, so this type of boat is becoming prevalent. I am wondering if this is a similar event along the East and West Coasts, and especially on the Great Lakes too.

The days of seeing classic wood runabouts as a regular feature are gone, they're few and far between to see one actually out on the water being used as a "user boat", especially in my part of the country here in Middle Tennessee. In other pockets of the country that have a more supportive vintage boating culture I suspect there are more, but the trend is pretty obvious. Now even our fiberglass classic boats are becoming something of a special event to see one on the water.

If you have one now, take good care of it. If you don't have one now, consider getting one for a restoration project while parts and viable hulls are still out there for a reasonable price.


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