Ordering a new boat is a dream for many anglers and may be a once in a lifetime event. Due to other priorities and expenses, they may wait their entire life to make that major purchase.
The good news is there are more choices than ever before and all of them are top-notch in quality. The bad news for the prospective buyer is demand has outweighed supply and the production ability. Honestly they can’t be made fast enough.
Although manufacturers are looking at a banner season due to dealer orders, the length of time to go from order to on the water is a hindrance and many are looking for other options as a result.
Getting a new boat can take anywhere from 6-14 weeks, depending on the manufacturer, if it is ordered special. Fiberglass boats involve a longer process to be built due to molds, curing and process time but aluminum manufacturers are in the same quandary. They can only build so many per day, per week, per month.
There is a “Catch 22” too as building them faster doesn’t necessarily mean building them better. The relationship between quantity, getting more boats out the door, while maintaining quality and fit and finish has to be the goal. Faster may not be better.
Although at first blush this may look like a good thing for the boating industry and the economy, it can spell concern for the consumer. The supply chain for new boats provides a supply chain for used ones too. Many buyers who may have bought new in the past are opting for the purchase of a used boat because of the delay in getting an ordered boat. Not only is the concern real for the consumer but for the dealer as well.
Most buyers want to see, sit in and even take a ride in the boat of their choice. Many dealers are finding it hard to keep boats in stock or even getting them to have on the show floor. We are about to begin the boat show season and that demand increases even more during that time.
There are some companies that mass produce boats to keep up with demand. Choices of colors and features are limited with this approach but can be an advantage from a procurement standpoint for materials and availability. Customization of the boat for the particular angler occurs after the purchase with electronics, trolling motor and other aftermarket options. This seems to be more prevalent in aluminum entry level boats.
Fiberglass manufacturers seem to offer more options for the buyer with color schemes and factory add-ons, and although packages are still available they seem to be a bit more option-laden.
When getting into the market for a boat, it’s a good rule of thumb to compare all brands. Get as much boat as you can for your budget. I tell people all the time to not buy something to just get by but find one that meets your fishing both from how much you go to the type of water you fish.
A once a month angler on a small body of water may be just fine with a smaller boat. Add options to that boat with better electronics, engine and trolling motor to make that purchase fit you better.
Tournament anglers and those who fish a lot may need a bigger and, yes, more expensive offering to get the job done. With larger boats come larger engines, more batteries and a larger tow vehicle so take into account all of these variables when purchasing.
Although ordering a new boat can take a few weeks to obtain now due to demand, now is also a great time to kick a few tires and boat shows are a great place to do that. Speak to knowledgeable dealers but also talk to other owners too.
Boat websites are also great locations to learn more about your chosen model but non-affiliated sites are a good bet too. Buyers do have to cut through the marketing and sales hype but because this is a large purchase, due diligence is a good approach. Your first choice based on the look of the boat may or may not be the best option.
One final thought, buying a boat is always better if you are handy and can do some things yourself. YouTube is a great place to learn step by step on maintenance and option installations. It will pay dividends and save you money too.
Richardson chosen for Hall of Fame: Retired Pantagraph Outdoor Editor Scott Richardson will be inducted into the Illini Muskies Alliance Hall of Fame at the organization's annual meeting in St. Charles on Jan. 6 during that weekend's Chicago Musky Show at Pheasant Run.
The 2018 HOF class is the second honored by the IMA, which takes many steps to improve the muskie fishery in the state. That work included helping the Illinois Department of Natural Resources make Evergreen Lake at McLean County's Comlara Park near Hudson one of the best muskie fisheries in the Midwest. The IMA is honoring Richardson for his reporting on that effort and for other writing which detailed the Illinois muskie fishery program.
Richardson, 66, Normal, retired from the newspaper in 2012 after 32 years.