While gathered around the watering hole or lurking about online chat rooms, you may hear people spouting the virtues or failings of one boat brand over another. Generally these people have some brand loyalty or are justifying a purchase, be it frugal or exorbitant.
The arguments of value are usually centered around a few main talking points. The most common are fit and finish, two-piece vs. three-piece construction, no wood construction, and resale value. There are more to be sure, but these are the main arguments bantered back and forth when Fred and Joe compare boats.
Let’s go over these and maybe a few more with the hope that you, too, can join the fray, when you hear your brand being bashed or another being promoted. These simple descriptions will hopefully aid you in selecting future boat models with a better understanding of how they are constructed and what that actually means to you, the consumer.
Let’s start with resale value. This is a real and tangible thing. Used item sales rely on marketing as much or more than new unit sales. It is all about perception of value. Some brands have it some don’t. A few brands have more perceived value than they deserve. I see the results every day. One large function of vessel survey is valuation.
A large portion of my value equations is based upon current listing and sales figures. Considering the 20 to 30 percent instant beating the new boat buyer takes in depreciation, resale value is of great concern. I once read a study in some obscure trade publication that sighted two years as the average ownership interval for powerboats nationwide. If that is true, than paying for a name begins to make very good sense when buying slightly used boats only a few years old. I would rather pay a little more up front than take a real blood bath when a lesser brand depreciates in two years.
What about no wood construction? Stuff and hogwash. Almost every top-tier builder on the planet uses wood in some way when building boats, simply because wood is a material uniquely suited to the construction of boats. The problem is to avoid wood rot related issues in the future, the builder must adhere to very strict guidelines and quality control. Doing it right is expensive. Not using wood lets a builder utilize unskilled labor and less quality control. Trust me folks, it’s a matter of saving money, not make a better boat.
Fit and finish combined covers an absurd amount of territory. The description begins with the actual look of the boat, but moves quickly into the quality of all the little hardware used like hinges, latches, and assorted fittings. The term includes the wiring and the aesthetics of the wiring. The accoutrements are also included. All the deck hardware, water management, and even non-skid type falls into the F&F category. Does the boat shudder, creak or clank when taking any sea conditions?
Regarding two or three piece construction, it’s simple. When talking about small open fiberglass boats like center console fishing boats, think about the hull up to the rub rail as one piece. Sometimes the cockpit deck goes full width and is attached to the actual hull side. That is the second piece. The cap deck is attached to the hull like a shoebox lid and either screwed, fiber glassed, bolted, riveted, or any combination above, in place. This is also sometimes called the gunwale. The cap deck is the third piece. In a two-piece boat the cap deck and cockpit deck are all one piece and form a sort of inner wall. Each design has strengths and weaknesses that can be argued either way. Three-piece boats generally offer greater rigidity and a deep toe-kick for fishing. Two-piece boats offer greater storage and simplicity of assembly.
You may e-mail Capt. Campbell with questions, comments and ideas for topics you would like to see him address at Baitkiller@comcast.net or 389-9769. Campbell AMS is an Accredited Marine Surveyor associated with the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors, The American Boat and Yacht Council and the Collier County Marine Trades organization.