If Not Now, When?
Buy the Boat.

Boat sales have enjoyed a serious boost post-quarantine. The sentiment of many entering the market: Why wait?

The pandemic has put the boat-buying rule book through the shredder. Times are uncertain. The market dips and spikes with news—good or bad—about a vaccine. Quarantine fatigue is boiling over onto the stove. Airlines and hotels continue to be pummeled by the invisible enemy at a time when we yearn for escape more than ever before. Boat sales in many segments are going through the roof, with many dealers and builders I’ve talked to reporting that they can’t get their hands on enough inventory to keep up. A good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

Quarantine is a powerful drug. Months spent safely ensconced in our homes, shuttered away from friends and adventure, has a way of making one crave the things boating offers. The value placed on the ability to escape has never been higher, which -explains the surge in boat buying.

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So it wasn’t all that surprising when my boss, Marine Group President Gary DeSanctis, arrived to a weekly, socially distanced meeting with new boat brochures in hand. One was for a Scout and another for the Jeanneau NC 795. Together with Editorial Director Bill Sisson, we scrutinized the features, price, brokerage value, etc.—you know, the rational stuff. We talked about the pros and cons of each and listened as Gary rattled off his dreams for his future boat. Maybe he’d trailer it to Lake George, or perhaps up to Lake Champlain. With the right wifi connection he could perhaps transform our beloved Long Island Sound into a remote office. (What do you want to bet Remote Office and Social Distancing will be up-and-coming boat names?) Towards the end of our conversation, Gary said those four magic words that have been used to justify
purchases for centuries: If not now, when?

It’s a fair question. Gary, if you don’t know him, also happens to be a volunteer fire fighter in Mamaroneck, New York, just a stone’s throw from the one-time coronavirus hotbed of New -Rochelle. This charitable duty earned him a front-row seat to just how devastating the virus is; it seemed that being so close to the illness reshuffled his deck of priorities. Time on the water with family and friends was now coming up aces.

I was dockside when Gary completed the final walk-through of his new Jeanneau and helped him deliver it to its summer home in Essex, Connecticut. Now, truth be told, I’ve done similar walk-throughs and deliveries the last few years when embarking on our annual summer boat program—this was a very different experience. That excited/nervous feeling was written on Gary’s face while I hung back with a jealous scowl on my own.

It’s an oft-used cliché to suggest that the best kind of boat is someone else’s. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you, as a Power & Motoryacht reader, have never suggested such blasphemy. A day spent on a friend’s boat can be fun, no question, but it only scratches that boating itch for as long as you’re on the water. You don’t get the ability to dream about how you’re going to use the boat for years to come. You don’t get to dream of -trail-ering the boat upstate, of having your children’s friends aboard as they grow up, of having your grandkids aboard, of playing hooky to chase fish on a whim. You also don’t get to make the boat your own. You don’t get the endorphin rush that comes with completing an onboard project or waxing the hull until you can see your reflection.

Listening to Gary talk about future trips with the boat and how his family is going to use it helped me see what so many in the industry were reporting. It’s not just about the escape a boat can offer today, but the possibilities they offer for tomorrow.

This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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