When the recession struck, the tide turned for the recreational boat industry. Sales plunged 55 percent from pre-recession levels to a record low in 2010. Buyers grew more price conscious and turned to the pre-owned boat market in search of deals. Sales have been strong in the value end of the market, although recovery has been spotty throughout, industry players say.
With the boat industry cautiously steering towards recovery, the distress sales and pre-owned boats that flooded the market during the last two years are drying up. Yet buyers can take heart: With the industry forced to trim costs and woo a more value-conscious consumer, there’s a boat for every budget.
By Dawn Lim
Posted April 12, 2011
Suggested starting price: $31,580
Length: 26 feet
Manufacturer: Godfrey Pontoon Boats
Pontoon boats proved resilient during the downturn because of their versatility and affordability, with aluminum pontoon boats seeing a pickup today. This model, which comes with an acrylic bar top, can hold up to 14 people. As of mid-March, Nautic Global Group, which owns Godfrey Pontoon Boats, said unit sales at boat shows of pontoon boats jumped 65 percent from a year earlier.
Suggested Starting Price: $19,895
Length: 18 feet 10 inches
This model, which can hold up to 10 people and is available with outboard or sterndrive power, is the best-selling boat in Hurricane's line-up. Hurricane is the largest deckboat maker, with 37.5 percent of the market.
Suggested Starting Price: $1.4 million
Length: About 54 feet
Manufacturer: Meridian Yachts
This two-story boat is equipped with advanced joystick controls to make navigation easier. It has seen strong demand, with all available production slots filled by dealer orders into 2012, of which over 70 percent have been sold to customers.
Meridian Yachts, created in 2002 by Brunswick, has been the largest maker of bridge boats for the past four years, with a 30 percent market share.
Suggested Starting Price: $31,195
Length: 21 feet
Manufacturer: Sea Ray
This model is the bestselling sterndrive bowrider over 20 feet. It comes equipped with power-assisted and tilt steering, and a pop-up tow for water-skiing. Buyers can choose between three floor plans to customize their boat.
Suggested price: $9,599
Length: 132.6 inches
Manufacturer: Bombardier Recreational Products
This model won an NMMA Innovation Award at the 2011 Miami International Boat Show for being a smart package for the value-minded rider, judges for the awards said. It can brake in half the distance of other watercraft. Riders can customize ignition timing, optimizing power delivery when in sport mode.
Suggested price: $408,000
Length: 36 feet 6 inches
Manufacturer: Boston Whaler
The largest Boston Whaler, this boat model comes with a windshield system that provides improved visibility, storage for fishing and scuba gear, while doubling as a sunpad.
Suggested price: $217,000
Length: 30 feet
Manufacturer: Hacker Boat Company
This model is crafted with traditional lines and contours but equipped with an 8.1 liter Crusader engine that produces 385 horsepower. Hacker Boat Company is the largest manufacturer of hand-built, mahogany boats in the U.S.
Suggested price: Starts at £8,840,000 or roughly $14,400,000
Length: 111 feet 11 inches
Launched at the recent Tullett Prebon London International Boatshow, this boat comes with a sunpad, spa tub, wet bar, and accommodates a party of up to 10 in five cabins, with a crew of five. Still, it is smaller than the earlier Predator 130 that it was inspired by. Sunseeker has six of these models on order.