The Boat Buyer’s Dilemma

Published on October 21st, 2021

The United States Sailboat Show, or often referred to as the Annapolis Sailboat Show, had by all accounts an epic event on October 14-18, 2021. Said Kerri Jaffe from the Bitter End Yacht Club, “The show was packed and people were buying boats like they were toaster ovens!”

Good times, or not? George Day of Cruising Compass offers an observation:

The 2021 Annapolis Sailboat Show wrapped up and by all appearances it was the best attended sailboat show in many years if not in the show’s history. Many vendors told me that it was their best show ever in terms of both inquiries and sales. And, my sailing friends who attended were astonished by the crowds and the festive attitude. I think we all felt like we’d risen from the dead zone of the pandemic.

But real issues remain for those of us who are looking to buy a new boat. All of the builders I spoke with at the show said that the waiting time for a new boat was at least a year and most said two years or more.

So, here’s the dilemma: You want to buy a new boat that will take you and your family wherever you want to go, you know what you want and need and you know your budget and your time frame. But, are you willing to put down a 20% deposit now and then wait two or three years to take delivery? And will you be able to lock in the final price now or watch it float upward with inflation?

I know, this is a classic First World problem, but it does affect our friends and their friends and our sailing community. Will some folks decide to buy a brokerage boat in a market that’s already well picked over, or a condo in a ski resort or a cruising powerboat they can get next spring instead?

If you are in the market and have an ample time horizon, this is not a problem, but for many of us it is a real dilemma. What do you think and how are you reacting to the new boat situation? You can email me at

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