EDITORIAL: This year’s new boats recap: Our own Dow Jones?

As we swing into spring show season here in New England, it’s pretty well guaranteed that much of the discussion with readers and advertisers who stop by the Commercial Fisheries News booth at the upcoming Maine Fishermen’s Forum or Commercial Marine Expo will focus on boats.

That’s always the case, but maybe even more so this year with so many new boats hitting the water.

How many?

editorial-SHWell, take a minute to leaf through our annual Year of New Boats review in this issue, sponsored once again by our friends at Furuno.

This special 12-page supplement recaps 2016 new boat launches from the pages of CFN.

While we don’t claim to cover every boat that hits the water in the course of the year, we do try to offer up a balanced view of trends in hulls, power choices, and equipment.

And a number of suppliers have told us they consider the YONB supplement to be their “report card” for the year.

Beyond the fact that it is fun reading, it’s interesting to ponder the economic impact of this year’s batch of launches to the builders, finishers, and suppliers throughout the region.

By our rough calculations, just the new boats we’ve captured in this year’s recap could easily represent around $20 million in direct economic impact.  That’s not chicken feed – and the added trickle-down effect could be substantially higher.

And again: these aren’t all of them.

How’d we get that number?

Well, admittedly, it’s more common sense than science.

We are often asked, especially by folks “from away,” what a new lobster boat costs these days.

There are, as any fisherman knows, as many answers to that question as there are boat makes, models, sizes, and powerplant and finish options.

That said, it is not unusual to see boats in the currently popular mid-to-upper-40-foot range coming in at $700,000-$800,000 fully finished.

And many new boats around the 40-foot range with a substantial engine could easily price out, say, in the neighborhood of $400,000 depending on the finish.

Those numbers might surprise some old timers.  With good reason.

Let’s just say that 25 years ago $100,000 would buy you something in the mid-30’ range with a 3116 Cat.

By the mid-nineties, overall length was creeping up from 35/36 feet to a few more 38/40/42-footers … and then Jack McDevitt Sr. and American Marine Diesel really blew the doors open to go-fast power when they introduced their legendary 900-horse V8 at the Maine lobster boat races.

Before we knew it, what was once considered crazy became the norm.

Today, a basic 750 hp diesel is considered a good buy, maybe in the $80,000 range, while a 1000-horse with gear could easily be one side or the other of $150,000.

So it is probably safe to say that guys are spending as much on engines, in some cases, now as they were on completed boats 25 years ago.  But that’s what makes the wheels of commerce roll – and make no mistake, business is good in much of the region these days.

Whether you are spec’ing a new project in the months ahead, thinking about repowering or refitting, or just curious about what the other guys down the bay have been up to, it’s all right here in the Year of New Boats review.

Enjoy.  /cfn/



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