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Old 11-05-2009, 23:06   #1
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Best Time to Buy a Used Charter Boat?

I've been watching the used charter boat market in the Caribbean for about a year now. And, while I know that, due to the economy, it is a great time to buy a boat (lots of inventory), I'm not sure exactly when to pull the trigger. Asking prices have been going down, and (although I don't have access to the actual sale price data) I imagine that prices offered and accepted are even lower still.
We plan to go cruising after the summer hurricane season, but we could sit on a boat for a few months if it meant that we would be buying at the best possible time. It seems like the market would be cyclical since it's bases somewhat on the charter season.
Anyone out there know if used charter boat owners generally accept lower prices prior to the summer, during the summer, or after the summer?
Part of me says to wait until the last possible moment, having sold several boats in the past, I know my desperation to sell grows with each passing month. Maybe things are different down there and there are different perceived "seasons" or "windows" to sell a boat.

(BTW, we're in the market for a Beneteau 50, 2003 or newer)

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Old 12-05-2009, 06:39   #2
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Todd - As a charter boat owner I may be able to provide some insights:

My experience is based on the Moorings, but I think most would apply to Sunsail as well.

The boats come into service at different times and end their contract at different times. When they come out is based on the contract/length of service, not the sailing seasons, so I don't think there is any single time of the year when more hit the market, and don't see how the season would affect prices, other than I imagine hurricane season is a slow time.

Moorings and Sunsail owners can usually keep their boats in service with Footloose, once their main contract is done, so there is no rush to sell. The boat will still be maintained, insured, and docked by the charter company. Income of course stops, so I'd rather sell it soon after coming our of the main charter before it depreciates more.

With the stock market picking up a bit the last couple months, my guess is boat prices won't continue to decline as they have been, but that's just a guess. I don't have any crystal ball.

Those are just some of my guesses being an owner, I'm not intimately familiar with boats coming out of season. There's one user of the forums - Mark who I believe purchased a boat out of charter, so perhaps he'll come along a shed a bit more light on the subject.
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Old 12-05-2009, 07:28   #3
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This is just like timing any other market. Is the boat market currently at the "bottom". I'd like to think so, but maybe not. Some "experts" predicted a modest improvement in the economy, before an even bigger crash. If they are right, we aren't close to the bottom. The US government has spent a lot of money. This USUALLY leads to increasing interest rates as they have to borrow more money (money is tight, and investors want a higher rate of return). If interest rates go up, that WILL continue to affect the boat market, as less folks will be able to afford them. However, since boat interest rates haven't really gone down with mortgage rates, there may be a bit of room there - maybe 2 points.

I'd also think the summer volume for charter companies would also have a bearing. If it's slow, then more people with boats in charter will need to dump them.
Bill Streep
San Antonio/Port Aransas, TX
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