It is an exciting time for all of us. Never before have there been so many different styles, sizes, and types of powerboats so well–suited for our kind of cruising. It seems each boat show offers something new—in boats and equipment.
Sure, the economic problems of the 1980s resulted in fewer boats being built. Fewer orders caused the closing of a number of quality boatyards, throwing the marine industry into a tailspin. This is readily apparent in today's used boat market—there is a decidedly short supply of good used trawler–type boats for sale. Brokers are finding it difficult to satisfy demand, and the boats that come on the market are holding their value. What is happening? Where are all the older boats?
People are holding on to these boats, that's why. Comfortable and familiar, they are a part of the family, and still do what we ask of them. As these boats and systems continue to mature, many of us are upgrading, repowering, and refitting our trawlers to keep them safe, comfortable, and economical—and to take advantage of new technology and products. It's incredible to compare today's with those of just a few years ago. Even today's marine head systems represent a leap in technology.
As for the rest of us, we have reason to celebrate. Today's builders and designers recognize the increasing demand for cruising motorboats of all types, and the choices are getting better every passing month.
For those of us with voyaging in mind, and the resources to obtain serious accommodations and ocean–crossing capability, there are more boats out there today than ever before. Production builders are building larger, extremely comfortable, and very capable passagemakers that can be operated by a cruising couple—around the world if they choose.
Some of us don't yet have the time for such dreams, as we are still plugged in to a world with commitments and schedules. For us, the ability to travel faster is more important than ultimate ocean–crossing range or capability. We want to squeeze more cruising adventure out of our busy calendar. Many people accomplish their desire to explore and see the world—one piece of the time, one cruise at a time. Today there are all sorts and sizes of boats out there perfectly suited for liveaboard cruising on a schedule. Serious cruising boats for sure, but with more emphasis on hull speed than range. Comfortable at anchor or under way, these boats satisfy every layout, system, and pocketbook requirement.
Even those of us with long distance voyaging in mind, but perhaps without the resources or interest for larger voyaging vessels, can take heart. In the next six months, we'll see the introduction of serious ocean motorboats offered in smaller sizes. There will be boats that have all the range and capability of true ocean motorboats, but intended for a couple looking for something smaller and more affordable.
On the custom boat front, things are equally bright. Designers and builders are creating boats for all of us—not just the select few with a professional crew. There is a decided awareness of the different size and style of interests of the cruising community, and many of these professionals are looking at ways to provide us with custom alternatives to meet our differing needs. Aluminum, steel, fiberglass, and wood are all viable materials for building these days, and the use of computers has expanded the versatility of the building process.
The overall perspective is outstanding. No matter what kind of boat you are interested in, it is out there—or soon will be. The development of reliable and manageable systems to complement these boats simply adds to our enjoyment of the total cruising experience.
There is tremendous interest in cruising in trawlers and ocean motorboats—given the overwhelming response to this magazine. We'll pass on these new developments and announcements as we all move forward. Like no other time in boating, there really is a boat for everyone!