A reader from Plymouth who asked not to have his name used sent me an email in response to my Sunday story about the price of boats.
He went to the NW Boat Sports and Travel show a few weeks ago and was astonished at the prices of boats. They have taken a major jump up compared to the last few years during the recession when he last shopped, he wrote.
Then things got interesting. He remembered that he paid $5,000 for his 1975 Larson Open Bow runabout fiberglass boat with a 115HP Evinrude on it. The boat is in pristine condition and he still uses it.
He was 35 years old making $17,500 per year when he bought it. "It was a time of major inflation and the cost of financing it at the time was negated by the inflationary price increases from year to year," he wrote.
He went on to say that if he bought a comparable 18 ft. fiberglass and aluminum runabout with a 115 HP on the back of it, he would pay $42,000 to $48,000 today.
"Unbelievable," he said. "My $5,000 boat was 28.5 percent of my income at the time. If I use the same ratio to income I would need $168,421 worth of income to buy [an equivalent] boat."
Few 35 year olds with a family and a mortgage in the early stages of a career are making that sort of money.
He concluded that prices have escalated and wages and salaries in the past 30 years have not kept pace, making the fact that boat manufacturers and dealers are struggling not much of a surprise.
My article mentioned that the more affordable $5,000 Sea-Doo Spark is selling out in the Twin Cities and re-setting manufacturers' thinking. Here's a picture of it.