July 8, 2018

Where is Everyone?

That's a photo from July 4th weekend at Cuttyhunk Island, a very popular port of call in Massachusetts. Eventually, even that boat left the mooring and we were all alone anchored in the outer harbor.

Weather--perfect. Wind--light. Holiday--yes. Very few boats. OK, it did pick up on July 4 itself, but there was still plenty of room to anchor inside The Pond.

That was unheard of in the past. Much of the marina was empty too. I don't have any specific information as to why we are seeing less boats on the water, but IMHO this is a continuing trend observed over the course of the last ten years enjoying these same waters.

Those of us in the marine industry see the same pattern in terms of business activity, boats sold, and participants. I suspect the participation numbers are actually much worse than the statistics would indicate. Many of us old farts still own boats, but we also use them much less than we once did. 

There are many factors one could imagine contribute to this: fuel and mooring costs, repair costs, boat prices, lack of time, etc. On the other hand, you can pick up a great coastal cruising boat for a fraction of the price you could when I got started back in the 1980s, and salaries are a lot bigger today. I was recently looking at what would have been a $120,000 dream boat to me back in say 1984. Today, I could pick up that same boat for $30,000. And, there are tons of smaller boats one can pick up for under $5000 that would make fantastic summer cruising homes for someone willing to put in a little elbow grease.

I'll discuss these issues at greater length in the future, but for all those dreamers out there now is the best time I have seen in my 40 years of cruising to find a boat that can take you anywhere. It's a buyers' market--just ignore the hype of the magazines about all the expensive crap you don't really need.