Monday, 3 November 2014

Boat Show Blues

After 5 days at France’s largest used-boat show, we can now paint a portrait of today’s used-boat buyer.  Here are some of the gems from prospective buyers who visited Spray this week:

1.  “I absolutely love this boat, but my wife insists on having a lateral galley.”  (She doesn’t plan on cooking at sea, does she?)

2.  “Only 2 cabins?!  Where am I supposed to put the grandkids?”  (We have a few suggestions…)

3.  “Great boat, but I really want a lifting keel.”  (So why are you visiting a Dehler?)

4.  “I want 2 cabins but I want them both to be aft cabins.” (Not going to ask why. Good luck with that one.)

5.  “No hot water?!  Honey, did you hear that?  They said no hot water…”  (No shower, either, toots.)

6.  “Ah…wheel steering.  For a 34 foot boat, tiller steering is best.”  (We later met a Dehler 34 owner who had tiller steering and he said it was a beast.  He finally installed a powerful auto-pilot directly on the rudder sector to take over when things got too stiff.)

7.  “We really like the boat but we have to check with our 8 buddies who will be co-owners.  We’ll get back to you.”  (I won’t hold my breath, okay?)

8.  “Oh, a mahogany interior!  Can’t stand mahogany.  I prefer clean white plastic.”  (I have to say, this one was my favourite of the week…)

9.  A speed-dating visitor with a clipboard: “Mind if I just poke around?” (He came, he saw, he scribbled a few notes, he left.)

10.  After what I thought was a rather promising 10-minute visit:  “Would you mind terribly if I use your toilet?”  (…and he didn’t know how to work a marine toilet).

We DID have three serious visitors, but they all had to sell their boats first.  We aren’t holding our breath for any of these guys, either.

I found the whole process depressing, not because we didn’t sell the boat but because the vast majority of visitors were looking for a floating camping car for family coastal cruising.  It's no wonder we had such difficulty finding a new boat that wasn't a floating caming car.  Very few visitors appreciated the robust and ergonomic features of a Dehler that make it such a pleasure at sea.  I also found the local nautical culture quite parochial.  Most did not know what a Dehler was. (If it’s not a Beneteau, Jeanneau, Dufour, or Bavaria, it must be Polish or something…too risky).  When we told them the name of the boat was Spray, no one made the connection with Joshua Slocum, and few had heard of Slocum once we explained it to them.  They said, “Spray?  You mean, like a deodorant?”  Sigh…

One of the organizers of the boat show told us that 60% of the boats sold are based on the choice of Madame, where Madame is not a sailor.  Men are convinced that if they can just provide enough interior comforts their wives will consent to go sailing with them.  I’ve got news for them.  Their wives will go sailing with them for one season, after which they will re-affirm what they suspected all along: they don’t like sailing, no matter what.  We are members of two sailing associations filled almost exclusively with abandoned husbands who are saddled with floating camping cars, when what they really wanted was a smaller boat with a more performance.  If both partners are sailors, the decisions should be made together.  If only one partner is a sailor, why-oh-why should the advice of the non-sailor win out? 

And so it's back onto the hard for Spray, waiting for, I suspect, a divorced man under 6 feet tall looking for a robust performance cruiser to whisk her away for new adventures.