Why are Downeast boats so expensive?

JoeP

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Ok, Im going to walk on egg shells a little with this because I know there are some builders on here, and building boats is what puts food on there table.
BUT.... why are downeast boats so expensive?? I could understand the prices being high a few years ago when the economy was much better, and the demand was much greater. I subscribe to commercial fisheries news, national fisherman, and i pick up a fishermans voice newspaper every month. From what I read in each magazine or newspaper is that most builders are saying that business has slowed way down. So slow that some builders have closed the doors and let there workers go. Some builders have started lobstering because the phones at the boat shop have stopped ringing. Started lobstering when the Maine lobster prices were a dollar something a pound a few weeks ago and still may be (havent checked the prices recently).

In my quest on finding a new lobster boat my fiance' heard me talking to some guys on the phone and she heard some of the prices coming out of my mouth. She said "jesus Joe, you could buy at least two brand new 2013 pickup trucks fully loaded for less than some of these lobster boats", and I never thought about it but she's right!! Ive been looking at some of these boat kits for boats in the 30'-34' range that are "basic boat less engine" and
they are still around 80k as a average.

Like I said above, I could somewhat understand it a couple of years ago when people had some money in there pockets , and were basically bidding against other people for a slot in a boat yard because there was a demand.
But in todays market, from what i have heard, and the articles I have read of interviews with boat builders... those days are gone. So why does it cost so much today? I dont know the cost of materials put in to making a boat and that is why I am asking. Does a solid fiberglass hull cost that much to make??
Like everybody else, I would absolutely love to order a new boat, and give somebody in Maine my business but unless the prices drop Im going to completely exhaust the used boat listings. Thinking back to what my fiance' said about the trucks, why does a basic lobster boat without all kinds of fluff and electroncs, etc, cost more than a fully loaded, brand spanking new pickup truck? I would think if one of the builders lowered the prices considerably for the working man, the phones would start ringing again, and again, and again. That builder would have business and the other builders would possibly lower their prices if they want business and there phones will start ringing to. Then people would be buying boats again, the builders would have business again, and be able to hire their help back, and down the road to a better economy. What are your thoughts?
 

plowin

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Go and price out what the components for building one of those basic boats costs. That includes figuring in some cost for the mold, renting a building, heating the building and paying the help to put the things together. While pricing that out take a look at what a 55 gallon barrel of resin costs. Then you have to purchase a tier2 compliant diesel, or gas if your comparing it to your 2013 brand new truck. The tier2 compliant bullshit you can blame on our administration but regardless it is requred now on a brand new build. I am pretty sure that the truck isnt going to be worth much in fifteen years while the boat will still have significant value. I am not a boat builder but I have conducted the above experiment and I quickly figured out your answer.
 

cb34

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topic

Interesting topic, these boats are not for the working man.;)
 

F/V First Team

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Just you wait till '14 comes along

If you thought engine prices were crazy now...

Catalytic converters nearly the size of the engine itself

While it is true that anyone can build a boat, sometimes on a budget, the same can be said about carpentry. The price of the studs at the local lumber yard is the same to the professional as they are to the layman, however what they do with those materials is well worth having someone who is in the business and has the knowledge as to how to properly use them. Same applies to boats. Do you really want any Tom, Dick and Harry getting slap happy with a bucket of resin that was kicked way too hot whipping rollers around with cheap fiberglass with no binding in it building your boat for quarters on the dollar? Five years later when the house has separated, trunk top is covered in blisters, electrolysis has eaten half the engine away and you just put your foot through the deck for the second time in a week; you look over at the guy in the slip next to yours and he's just hosing his rig off that came out of a shop that has these supposed sky high prices.

It's right then that the thought pops into your head about how his boat is worth two shiny new pickup trucks that don't float.

I'm not frowning on DYI'ers, capable owners or guys learning as they go through a project. But these guys who spring up out of the woodwork every few months, throw a giant engine into a worn out boat where a little four cylinder used to live, claim they're builders and then proceed to undercut the builders who've been there for years and churn out crap product... well it gives us all a bad name.

There's no such thing as a "cheap boat" but there are boats out there that don't cost a whole lot. You get what you pay for though.

(totally not related in any way, shape or form: there is going to be a boat building contest nearby with cardboard and duct tape. Sounds fairly economical)
 

Powderpro

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New boats are expensive for 10,000+ reasons. By the way, a new loaded up truck isn't cheap either. A lobster boat, or any working boat for that matter, is 100% custom and unique- it's not a bowrider that is duplicated 1,000's of times (even a new bowrider is expensive). Because each boat is unique, it requires massive man hours and highly skilled labor. Build a 38' boat start to finish and come back and tell us how many man hours it took to turn-key it- You will be shocked! And then tell us how much you had to pay per hour to obtain a skilled worker in fiberglass, who was willing to work in conditions that are way less than ideal. So labor costs on a boat are huge. Then the engine and transmission are outrageously expensive, and every other marine part you install in a boat is expensive and a lot of parts are custom made to order. When you add it all up, it's an expensive, beautiful work of art. The boats I finish are work boats, so guys are buying them to make a living with. These work boats are like a member of the family- these men depend of their boats to feed their wife and kids.

I have tremendous respect for boat builders who go out, hire laborers, obtain molds, rent or purchase a building and land (boats and molds take up a lot of space), pay for utilities, pay for advertising, deal with all the needs, requirements, visions, and moods of the customer, keep good employees (working with fiberglass products is not easy or comfortable), deal with and satisfy all the government regulations, keep up on trends and the latest materials, market their boats, try to make a return on thier investment and hopefully save enough to retire someday. All the boat builder's that I personally know and are aware of, are small business men. They are working class, watch every penny they spend, pay WAY more taxes than they should, have a president who thinks they aren't paying their fair share and should be spreading the wealth around even more. That's why very few are successful at it, it's a hard business with a very limited customer base.
 

djmarchand

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Joe:

Most downeast boats that are discussed on this forum are molded one at a time and finished by custom boat builders. This costs money.

As a comparison, take a look at two similar boats, but on opposite ends of the spectrum: the MJM 34Z and the Mainship Pilot 34. The MJM costs upwards of half a million new with all of the trimings. The Mainship (well, before they went bust) cost in the upper 200s.

A Maine built 34 is going to cost at least $300K similarly equipped.

David
 

MDI45

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Fuel fuel fuel....when our wonderful government stops taxing the shit out of fuel...and people can afford to live again everything would get better....resin is 3 to 4 times it was 10 or so years ago..
 

JoeP

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Go and price out what the components for building one of those basic boats costs. That includes figuring in some cost for the mold, renting a building, heating the building and paying the help to put the things together. While pricing that out take a look at what a 55 gallon barrel of resin costs. Then you have to purchase a tier2 compliant diesel, or gas if your comparing it to your 2013 brand new truck. The tier2 compliant bullshit you can blame on our administration but regardless it is requred now on a brand new build. I am pretty sure that the truck isnt going to be worth much in fifteen years while the boat will still have significant value. I am not a boat builder but I have conducted the above experiment and I quickly figured out your answer.


Plowin, I agree with you that a truck wont be worth much in 15 years. I agree with you that there was some cost for the mold, but alot of the molds were developed years and years ago. Some of the original designers have passed away (rip) years ago. Many of those molds have spit out a ton of boats. More than enough to pay off the mold by now. Im sure that there are builders that rent a building but there are more than a couple of builders that have their shop at their home or on their land. Im not trying to say that it doesnt cost a builder alot of money to build a boat, and I'm sure that starter check that you give them comes in real handy to pay that stuff off. I dont know what a barrel of resin cost. When you did the experiment, how much roughly did it really cost to make a boat? These engine ready kits are around 80k give or take, does it actually come close to that to build a boat?

I dont expect the builder to just give the boat away. He puts alot of time and hard work into building a boat and should get paid accordingly. I'd like to know how many of you reading this would like to buy a new boat, and would buy a new boat, but the price is a little out of your reach and if the price dropped a bit you would pull the trigger and make a purchase. I'm one of them. I obviously dont have a lump some of money to just pay it off, but I have been on the phone with loan depts. If the boat price came down, then the monthly payment would come down and I'd go for it.

I guess what Im trying to say is, If the builders dropped the price a little now while the market for new builds has come to a halt, then people would start buying again creating a demand and with the demand the price would go up. Im finding it hard to justify a high price with low demand. Ive always had used boats so im wet behind the ears with this new boat stuff. I apologize if it shows!:D
 

JoeP

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New boats are expensive for 10,000+ reasons. By the way, a new loaded up truck isn't cheap either. A lobster boat, or any working boat for that matter, is 100% custom and unique- it's not a bowrider that is duplicated 1,000's of times (even a new bowrider is expensive). Because each boat is unique, it requires massive man hours and highly skilled labor. Build a 38' boat start to finish and come back and tell us how many man hours it took to turn-key it- You will be shocked! And then tell us how much you had to pay per hour to obtain a skilled worker in fiberglass, who was willing to work in conditions that are way less than ideal. So labor costs on a boat are huge. Then the engine and transmission are outrageously expensive, and every other marine part you install in a boat is expensive and a lot of parts are custom made to order. When you add it all up, it's an expensive, beautiful work of art. The boats I finish are work boats, so guys are buying them to make a living with. These work boats are like a member of the family- these men depend of their boats to feed their wife and kids.

I have tremendous respect for boat builders who go out, hire laborers, obtain molds, rent or purchase a building and land (boats and molds take up a lot of space), pay for utilities, pay for advertising, deal with all the needs, requirements, visions, and moods of the customer, keep good employees (working with fiberglass products is not easy or comfortable), deal with and satisfy all the government regulations, keep up on trends and the latest materials, market their boats, try to make a return on thier investment and hopefully save enough to retire someday. All the boat builder's that I personally know and are aware of, are small business men. They are working class, watch every penny they spend, pay WAY more taxes than they should, have a president who thinks they aren't paying their fair share and should be spreading the wealth around even more. That's why very few are successful at it, it's a hard business with a very limited customer base.


Powderpro, all of you guys have brought up good points, and parts of the business that I was not aware of. I knew it was hard work and I respect the job. It really is a art form. I didnt take in consideration the price of resin with the price of fuel to make the resin. I pictured in my head that these boats could be spit out pretty fast if the buyer was just looking for a basic lobster boat and not a yacht with all kinds of bells and whistles.
 

harpoon83

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I'm not a builder, but I moonlight in construction and customers give us this same arguement all the time.

Because the economy is such crap right now people except the trades to work at lower rates in order to keep themselves employeed, and to a point this happens.

The only problem is If a builders expenses are X and his profit is Y, then the total price ends up being Z. Most reputable companies can only lower their profit so much before it gets to a point that its not worth doing the work anymore. Is it not reasonable to think that they are in business to turn a profit.

I do not know what the overhead is for a boat builder, I do know that workers comp and liability insurance don't come cheap, in ma at least.

Again just my opinion
 

Powderpro

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Powderpro, all of you guys have brought up good points, and parts of the business that I was not aware of. I knew it was hard work and I respect the job. It really is a art form. I didnt take in consideration the price of resin with the price of fuel to make the resin. I pictured in my head that these boats could be spit out pretty fast if the buyer was just looking for a basic lobster boat and not a yacht with all kinds of bells and whistles.

Every single item that makes up a new boat has gone up...the resin is just one of the thousands of components. It has sky rocketed like everything else. Engine prices are rocketing up faster than our national debt, complying with the EPA is an expensive proposition (but we are saving the planet, and saving the planet is more important that being able to support your family). The sad thing is, our government is putting the screws to us big time.

Joe- Boat builders cannot reduce their prices to where it becomes unprofitable to build a boat. I think the Maine builder's prices are as low as possible and none of them are getting rich from it. Reduce the prices any further, and they would be money ahead if they went out and found another job.
 

plowin

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Absolutely no apology necessary! I do not recall the exact amount it would have cost but I do remember thinking that it was more than I would have thought. I also remember the number of different options there were for types of resin,additives,fillers,bonding agents and different types of release agents. It was at that point I realized what your paying for, someone elses knowledge!! I did just come across a quote from H and H for a 32' and as a kit less the engine it was like 89K. But that was around 15 years plus or minus ago. If this thread continues I will try and find it again so we can make an honest comparison.The cost of raw materials have gone up at a remarkable rate which would probably make a good thread as well. Some of the bulders on this site could probably give us some accurate numbers. I have a used boat that I rebuilt and will be using that, when sold, to offset the cost of a new build. Maybe that will work for you as well.
 

plowin

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Just found a Mertons resin products add for 55 gallons of polyester resin for $1331.00. Shippnig not included, of course. That was a 2008 price.:eek:
 

steveinak

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Joe i don't know what you do for a living or own your own business but what if your boss or your customers came to you and said you need to take a 20-50% cut in pay to keep your job or to keep your business open would you just jump up and do it?? Would you be willing to go backwards just to do your job? This may be a bit overblown but hope you get what i mean ?? I've had a few boats in my 42 year commercial fishing career, had some built, built a few, rebuilt a few and lastly lucked out and found a nice used (in my opinion) 29 H&H for a fair price. Look around for a good used rig they are out there just be patient and have some cash in hand when you go look. By the way you never mentioned what you will be doing with the boat?
 

jerseysportfisher

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You can buy a boat , one off, built and finisihed by skilled tradesmen, or get a boat half the price (bignames go here) shot to gether with a chopper gun and a brigade of mexicans slaping up resin and bondo. Then you can go over to the hull truth, join up on all the post as to why is my so called high tier boat a pos and falling apart.
 

JoeP

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Joe i don't know what you do for a living or own your own business but what if your boss or your customers came to you and said you need to take a 20-50% cut in pay to keep your job or to keep your business open would you just jump up and do it?? Would you be willing to go backwards just to do your job? This may be a bit overblown but hope you get what i mean ?? I've had a few boats in my 42 year commercial fishing career, had some built, built a few, rebuilt a few and lastly lucked out and found a nice used (in my opinion) 29 H&H for a fair price. Look around for a good used rig they are out there just be patient and have some cash in hand when you go look. By the way you never mentioned what you will be doing with the boat?

Steveinak, I understand what your saying about being asked to take a pay cut. My answer would of always been- no way would I willingly agree to take a pay cut. But after I saw what happened to my cousin, I would be more agreeable to it. He worked for a well known automobile company putting together cars and trucks. Just before the collapse of the company the boss had a meeting and explained to everybody that there had to be pay cuts or the company was going to fold. Well, all the employees were obviously pissed and were demanding that their pay would not be dropped because there contract says they are suppose to get such and such amount (they are union). They did not agree to take a temporary pay cut and guess what??
The company closed for a while and they all lost there job. So after hearing this and seeing what it did to my cousin, I think I would take the temporary pay cut and get some money to keep my head above water than to have no job at all. This answer may be out in left field someplace but Im just trying to give a example.

Im keeping my eyes open. Maybe a nice clean used boat would be a better option for me right now than a new one. The place Im getting the loan from says my credit is all set and Im approved. Now I just need to be patient and wait for the right boat. Usually during the winter months the boat classifieds and a few pages longer.:D

Oh, and I will be using the boat for lobstering. I lobster as a part time job. Im a police officer on the midnight to 8am shift, so it gives me the days to haul gear. The license was my grandfathers and he passed it to my dad. Unfortunately my dad passed away and now the license is mine. I hold onto this license like its a piece of gold because it has so much family value to me.
Hopefully someday I'll have a son that I can pass it to.:D
 

Raider Ronnie

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MDI45

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Just found a Mertons resin products add for 55 gallons of polyester resin for $1331.00. Shippnig not included, of course. That was a 2008 price.:eek:
JoeP,Resin was under 500 bucks for 55 gal in 1996 when i built a 36 Wayne Beal from a kit..boat builders up there at that time were so busy they had a 18 month waiting list...and that wasn't just Wayne....every shop was busy
 

MouseTrap

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Relatively speaking, a Downeaster isn't any more expensive than most other boats. MSRP for a POS (in my opinion) base model 33 foot Sea Ray Sundancer is $250,000ish. Add electronics, options, tax, delivery, etc. and you are at $300,000. In 6-8 years, it will be worth 25% of that (less than $90K).

In comparison, a custom one-off Downeaster, where the builder knows your name (and still will for years to come), is a bargain IMHO.
 
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Fish220sr

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