Depreciation to Rival a Rolls

There’s been some discussion here about modern “wake boats” and how expensive they are. I’m the proud owner of a 16 year old wake boat that was built before The Craziness of $200k monsters, but partly due to this trend, mine has held its value well: it’s still worth $25-30k - about half its original value of ~$55k - despite being 16 years old.

Meanwhile, behold:

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A 2019 Nautique G23, which no doubt retailed north of $150k, is for sale on Craigslist - used for one season, by the way - at the low, low price of ... $148,000.

I kind of doubt they’ll get that - why wouldn’t you just by a new one from a dealer? But here’s an interesting comparison:

A 2014 G23 - just 5 years old - with ~500 hours, which is a lot of use but nothing to worry about if it’s been properly maintained. For comparison, my 2003 has just about 700 hours but that’s low. Asking price? $72,000.

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Let’s just call that 50% depreciation in 5 years. Granted, the curve will level out after a while, the first year or two is always the worst... right? But how “level” can it get? One reason boats like mine are holding their value is that they DON’T have the complexity and sensitive electronics that the new boats are so dependent on. And if you DO want to operate every aspect of the boat via a touchscreen, you probably want the newest version - and also a warranty.

These big, complex boats are going to be like S-Class Mercedes at the 5-year mark when the warranty runs out and some really complex expensive components start to have issues. I think there’s going to be a lot of heartache and wallet-ache for the second and third owners of these, who look at the monthly payment thinking, “I got this” only to find out it costs $5-10k a year in maintenance.

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My boat is far from being “simple” and does have an EFI engine and digital gauges. But everything else is pretty simple, relatively speaking. If the gauges fail, I can replace the whole lot for a few hundred dollars with analog stuff. You know how much a replacement screen is for a G23? $5,000 without labor.

Yikes.

Yes, yes, boats are expensive, bust out another thousand, etc. etc. but I feel like these modern wake boats are a exponential change from a decade or two ago, and it’s not all positive. Not enough people have huge loans on boats for it to cause a nation-wide financial crisis, I don’t think. But if the crazy auto financing situation comes crashing down around us, I feel like there will be a lot of these things sitting around, reposessed and unwanted by anyone with the cash to actually afford one because they know better.

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I hope I’m wrong, and I hate to be negative about something I love so much (boating in general) but the current market trend in wake boats worries me for the future of the sport for anyone but top zero-point-one percent.

These two don’t seem worried.

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