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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.

Regards,
Paul


 
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Paul
(no login)

Note from Matt

April 6 2018, 8:03 PM 

Keep in mind that the outboard is easier to install than an inboard or I/O set up. Outboards also don't have any requirements for emission controls (yet). Today's outboards are as clean burning as inboards, lighter and less expensive for the manufacturer. They are also less expensive to maintain over time versus an I/O system. I'm not happy about it, but that's the way the industry is going.

Additionally, the days of boat owners moving up from trailerable boats to an in-the-water 28-32 footer is over. The cost of owning and maintaining an in the water boat is a huge increase, that most boaters won't pay. My local marina used to have a multi-year wait list for covered slips. Now 28' slips are easy to get, and when i wanted a 32 footer I had my choice of 3 covered and 2 open slips.

Brunswick is dumping Sea Ray to focus on their smaller boat lines, which are almost exclusively outboard powered.

I left the marine industry because it is dying a slow death, and will become divided into two groups. Small outboard power (18 feet and smaller) and larger yachts (40' plus).

Matt G



 
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Paul
(no login)

Note from John K

April 6 2018, 8:05 PM 

Pod drives are very popular with larger boasts where inboards were the norm. They certainly free up cabin space. Mark my words-sterndrives will soon be a thing of the past with outboards gaining market share.

Yes Yamaha... extremely reliable and long lasting. Much more so than Merc. Then there’s Suzuki and 7 marine now offering contra-rotating props like a duo prop drive.

John K

 
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Paul
(no login)

Note from RJP

April 6 2018, 8:07 PM 

Paul, in response to your original comment regarding "thousands" of boats with Yamahas as the only boats you saw. Yes, that is the reality we live in. Florida is a bit of an anomaly.

I hear and have seen as you that only center consoles and only Yamahas are for sale and available in Florida. As is normally the case, business decisions are made based on money. What sells in Florida are that style boat with Yamaha power. Yamaha did a remarkable job in the 90s, 00s and now 10s really turning the market towards Japanese brands and Honda did a remarkable job of turning the market toward 4-strokes. Now Yamaha makes great 4 strokes that have all of perceived quality of a fully mature and well engineered Japanese machine.

In other parts of the country, specifically up here in the northern reaches, the American brands are still the preferred choice. And the outboard industry as a whole has seen an amazing growth over the past 10-15 years. A big reason is pontoons. They are now perceived as the best all around boat for almost all pleasure use. Outboards are no longer stinky, smokey, cantankerous animals only suitable for the transom of a fishing boat. They are the preferred power for many boats of all styles in the $1k to $300k range....basically all of the general "high" volume brands offer an assortment of exclusively designed and powered outboard boats.

RJP

 
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Paul
(no login)

Note from Thomas M

April 6 2018, 8:09 PM 

The Great Lakes are my home but I do a fair amount of boating in the Florida Keys (incidentally, with my small outboard center console that I tow back and forth). Florida, and the general "warm" saltwater region, are almost exclusively outboard. One big reason is the salt. Ferrous metals rot out down there in the blink of an eye, whereas outboards last a bit longer...and when they do rot (or wear) out, the boat can be repowered in an afternoon without so much as popping an engine hatch.

However, I do agree with everyone here about how far outboards have advanced. They truly are no longer the loud, dirty, crude machines that they were in the 50s and 60s. While they lack the "romance," if you want to call it that, of the older ones, it's a somewhat neat hybrid to have a classic boat with a modern outboard. Kind of the best of both worlds. I'm an officer for Lyman Boat Owners Association and it's a common discussion topic...and we generally condone modern outboards for "user" boats because they offer the safety and performance...but aren't really a modification to the boat and vintage outboards can be re-mounted for shows.

Paul, you've summed up exactly why we keep pouring our lives into our old Commanders... I know I'm all sorts of upside down in mine, but it's at a far lesser level than paying the premium for a new boat that'll just take a significant depreciation hit. And then, I get the ongoing satisfaction of people walking down the dock right past the million dollar Sea Ray to ask me about my restored Commander.

Tom




 
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Frank
(no login)

It's happening fast

April 8 2018, 3:34 PM 

I've read the notes you've added to your initial thread and I concur, the outboard craze is putting a lot of very cool boats behind sheds. Quite honestly, I don't know where people get the money to spend $30K on a motor like that, and then have enough left over for the boat, trailer, electronics, tow vehicle, and house payment.

Frank

 
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Steven F.
(Login lucid484)

Re: It's happening fast

April 8 2018, 6:39 PM 

30k is about what it would take to repower my 27. With the liberal loans they have giving out. You can finance your 30k outboard for a low price and a short time period of only 15 years. wink.gif Americans love their loans and debt!

 
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Paul
(no login)

Look st THIS ..... 1/3 the cost of a Yamaha outboard

April 9 2018, 3:33 PM 


 
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Craig L
(Login clindberg)

A Complex Set of Metrics, Trends and Demographics

April 9 2018, 6:03 PM 

Very interesting topic at many levels especially for those of us with a perspective on boating history that spans decades, not just a few years. So fully understanding what's going on may be like trying to explain quantum physics on a cocktail napkin.

My first thought though is current boating is the product of skyrocketing boat prices and associated costs of ownership brought on by less competition, heavier govt regulation on production and ownership, ever shrinking leisure time and a smaller population of buyers prepared to deal with the challenges of mounting a weekend foray on a local lake. The contemporary lineup and offering of watercraft are the result of that.

Our classic wooden and fiberglass boats don't fit that scenario very well and hence their gradual disappearance from the everyday boating world. This doesn't mean they don't have a place, it just may not be as obvious or well known. Gen X and Millenial audiences may simply not have come to appreciate them for what they are...yet.

Any comparison of a fiberglassic sportboat to a new PWC or 24' Sea Ray is really like comparing apples to oranges. Or as I prefer, like comparing a '69 Chevelle SS396 to a 2018 Toyota Camry, which as we all know, there is NO comparison because they represent completely different things.

This is where I think the story gets interesting.

Among the vast production of old fiberglass boats, just like old cars, there are certain ones that standout for their exceptional styling, performance, construction or history aka provenance. No, my father's 16 foot tri-hull w a 40 Evinrude is not going to make that cut even though my sense of personal nostalgia says otherwise.

That means possibly as little as 10-15% of old classic boats will survive because there has to be something exceptional about them for someone to feel compelled to become their care-taker. Not alot different from why so many old cars go to the crusher and just a small percentage find new homes with collectors.

So while it may feel like our classics are disappearing, I think maybe there's a case for arguing they just haven't been discovered yet as widely as say muscle cars, old Airstreams and vintage motorcycles. Maybe that explains why folks come running when they hear those twin 427s or lumpy cam 350s crank up with little to quiet their raw power signature notes, and take in the seductive lines of boats designed by men with names like Hunt, Avery or Wynn. And that's also exactly why nobody will ever come running to see an outboard on a pontoon boat.

Skol!
Craig L


 
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Paul
(no login)

This twenty-one foot boat is $180,000

April 11 2018, 9:31 AM 

[linked image]
I’m sure it’s s fabulous boat, but not like the past when Chris-Craft built a boat for the average guy.

Regards,
Paul


    
This message has been edited by FEfinaticP on Apr 11, 2018 10:21 PM


 
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KentU
(Login KentU)

180k?

April 13 2018, 5:09 PM 

Whoa. I'll stick with my Commander 23. Is it me or does the bow look a little "cut off". Great posts on the future of class glass. Thanks Paul.

Kent (Uboat)

 
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