For many of us, there’s no happier place than on a boat and that attraction is what drives the boating industry. But for some, it's just not feasible to buy a new boat because the premium for the pristine condition is often a trade-off between a larger used boat and a smaller new one.
When my wife and I were just starting a family there was always something competing for the money but we were determined to follow in the tradition of our parents and pursue a life on the water. My feeling was that sometimes it's not how you boat, but that you boat and we were eager to be on the water. We went in search of something big enough for a family but affordable on our budget. Over the years we've bought more than a handful of boats new and pre-owned. All have been sources of pleasure for us and they've always found proud new owners when we were ready to give them up. When our children were old enough to be responsible by themselves on the water, we were fortunate to be able to buy a boat for them, too. It was a three-year-old Wellcraft 18' center console with a 115hp Yamaha 2-stroke. Our ”little boat” became part of the family and served us well. The kids went fishing, took girls on dates, water skied and met us for raft ups, dinners and Fourth of July fireworks. But the children grew older and went away to school. One moved out of state to start his career and family and the other found himself too busy to use the boat very much. I hated the thought of selling it, but the reality was that the boat had served us well. The gel coat didn't take a shine the way it had in years past and the 2-stroke was a”little" noisier and smokier than current generation 4-strokes but this was still a great little boat. She was still quick and functional but the time had come. I spoke with friends and agonized over selling her. My broker friend said this was a “do it yourself" sales job. The likely selling price just wouldn't create much of an incentive for a commissioned sales person. He suggested listing it in local classifieds. Another friend said he'd take it off my hands for one of his usual silly low-ball offers. It was clear that I was going to be selling this boat on my own.
I decided that my best bet was to spread the word in as many places as possible. Not everyone looks in the same place for their next boat. I decided on a local boating sales magazine, Craigslist and eBay. My wife took some great pictures and I wrote an explanation of why someone would love this boat. We published the ads hoping for the best. It took about two weeks for inquiries to come in. It was clear however that one of the inquires was more serious than the others. What I owned was a newer model of a boat that this gentleman had owned before he married. He sold his to help fund the start of his family and always wished he had been able to keep the boat longer. We exchanged some text and email messages and in them, I told him everything that was right and maybe more importantly for my conscience, everything I knew that was wrong with the boat, motor and trailer that I was selling. We agreed on a time to meet and he showed up on time. His eyes lit up when he put his hand on the hull and the rest was easy. He sent me a note yesterday to tell me how excited his son was when the boat arrived at its new home. Within hours the boat was on the water pointed west as the sun was setting. The boat wasn't new but it was new to these owners. I'm sure they'll take pride in the boat and have many happy days of boating on her. Another family is now experiencing the joys of life on the water, and like I said earlier, sometimes it's not how you boat, but that you boat and there’s no better time to start than now.