September 18th 2012
15 years ago I found a gaff cutter for some old friends. She started life as a Cornish sailing fishing boat built in Mevagissey around 1895, typical of hundreds such boats working Cornish inshore waters. Naturally they wanted reassurance that when they came to selling they would not find they had a worthless lump of very old firewood on their hands which I gave them with confidence.
Now 15 years later, 2 voyages to Scotland and back to C ornwall, many great days sailing around the West C ountry, Scilly Isles and the Brittany regattas at Douarnenez and Brest their ownership had run it’s course and she went into the market.
I always thought she was a pretty little boat, she just looked right, she was largely yard maintained, sound and tidy though by no means an immaculate restored boat like some we see but she had a certain charm which is difficult to define though instantly recognised.
At a price in the mid £20s I thought she represented good value for someone who appreciated these West Country sailing fishing boats even if at the upper end of the price range in these hard times. What I did not appreciate was the enthusiasm that would greet her in the market.
Some of you will have noticed her on our web site and disappear quite quickly when she sold within weeks. And if we had 3 more we could place them immediately.
Even after 35 years promoting these lovely old boats I still find it difficult to predict why one boat will attract a keen following while others which may be better value, much better quality or much better presented can hang around in the market for months with little interest.
Putting a value on the boats is not too difficult when you have sat at my desk for so many years. I can advise what work should be done to prepare a yacht for the market, where to put her if there is an option and offer history often unknown to the owner but the one thing I can rarely do is to say when the yacht will sell. How long is an impossible question to answer as the example of the little gaff cutter clearly demonstrates and price is not always the controlling factor.
It is our impression that the sluggish market we have experienced for the last 3 or 4 years is not just a shortage of cash. If you are in secure employment, life is remarkably cheap with bargains to be had in every sector as business slash their prices to promote sales. I still come across people who are blissfully unaware that there is a big problem out there for many people and I have absolutely no doubt life is difficult for some but I am also aware that the money is still there.
If you part with your hard-earned cash for a significant purchase like a yacht, by and large your money is still there in the boat. However your running costs are spent cash, gone, spent, blown and it is these costs which worry people. Throw in a general lack of confidence in the future and we have a bit of a struggle to find new owners for many yachts, not solved simply by reducing the price.
I hope the present slow market will persuade the infra-structure behind yachting to examine their price structures and ask themselves if they are not actually milking the yachting cow dry.
Now getting back to that bargain; if I were a betting man, look at the web site and open the yacht called………………………………………. really?