Thanks to the steady growth and increasing sophistication of today’s Web sites, boatbuying research is easier and faster.
By Capt. Bill Pike — December 2000
Researching a boat used to be a long, pleasurable endeavor. First of all, you came up with a ballpark notion of what type of boat you were looking for, an evolutionary but enjoyable process, usually involving stacks of your favorite marine magazines and at least a few salty confabs with dockside confidants and friends. Next, you had to contact builders via boat shows, dealerships, or advertisements in the magazines, amass a few piles of brochures and spec sheets, and then pore over them with all the enthusiasm and retention of a hot-blooded scholar of antiquities digging into the Dead Sea Scrolls. This part of the procedure took the longest time, mostly because boat shows are generally just-once-a-year affairs, dealerships are sometimes far away, and brochures typically take a while to arrive in the mail. Of course, the final phase entailed going to a showroom, marina, or perhaps another show and actually laying hands upon the boat of choice, a hallowed prepurchase rite often charged with ecstasy but occasionally dogged by disappointment.
The last phase hasn't changed much over the years. But the other two have, mostly due to dot-com developments which in most cases speed up prior-to-purchase research. Today virtually every boatbuilder and marine-product manufacturer has a Web site with an easy-to-find and easy-to-remember address like searay.com, formulaboats.com, carveryachts.com, and even grandbanks.com. Although these sites differ with respect to the level of sophistication offered, they're all alike in providing brochure-type information, including exterior (and often interior) photos of the entire model line, matching specifications, dealer contact information, equipment lists, and standard and optional layout drawings. Moreover, most sites offer contextual extras such as company histories, links to owner organizations, and, in the case of companies like Sea Ray, Cruisers Yachts (cruisersyacht.com), and others, online libraries of magazine boat tests in electronic form. Virtual tours and video clips are also available from some manufacturers like Wellcraft (wellcraft.com), Nordic Tug (nordictug.com), and Sea Ray, although viewing sometimes requires the downloading of special software like QuickTime, RealPlayer, or Windows Media Player.
This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.