The upwardly mobile Mark Everington budget £30,000

The upwardly mobile Mark Everington budget £30,000

As a single 40-something insurance broker, Mark has no-one to answer to but himself. He has owned a variety of secondhand sportsboats over the years but is now looking for something more substantial.

Mark Everington is not a novice, having run a variety of small secondhand sportsboats over the past 15 years. But this is his first foray into the new-boat market.

He’s currently got an eight-year-old 20ft Maxum sports-cuddy, which he’s hoping to part-exchange against a larger, more stylish boat with comfortable overnighting for two and 40-knot plus performance.

He has been looking at a secondhand Sea Ray 230 Overnighter, but has come to the show to see whether he could stretch to something brand new. His self-imposed budget of £20,000, on top of the £10,000 value of his boat, gives him a total buying power of £30,000.

First temptations

He too has read MBM’s recent sports-cuddy test, and is keen to have a look at the winning Monterey 218 LSC. He’s not disappointed.

The cuddy is usefully larger than that of his Maxum, and the extra length also gives the boat the sharp, clean lines he’s looking for. Opting for the 260hp 5.0-litre Mercruiser MPI engine would give 40-knot performance.

Mark thinks the cockpit and dash feel a bit cheap and cheerful, and this 21-footer is not quite the step up in size and class he was looking for, but with a part-exchange price of just £16,440, including a road trailer, he’s seriously tempted.

But not before he’s had a look at the Regal 2250, which would have won our group test were it not for its hefty starting price of £33,834. With a bit of give and take from the dealer, Mark reckons this could still fall within his reach. Once he’s admired the superb quality of its fit and finish, he’s even keener to start negotiations. The walk-through transom, and the more sociable cockpit with the option of a sink and barbecue not to mention the flip-up sunpad, all appeal to his aspirations. Only the narrow entrance to the cuddy, and the shorter than average berths count against the layout.

Unfortunately, by the time Mark has ticked the boxes for optional extras such as a bow rail, compass, transom shower and transom filler cushion, the price has risen to £35,174, and the dealer is unwilling to commit to a part-exchange price for the Maxum without a proper viewing.

Overnight success

Now Mark’s got the bug, he wants to have a look at one more boat, Sea Ray’s new 240OVE.

The styling alone has him salivating like a Doberman at a postman’s convention, particularly when he sees the spacious cockpit with its full-length sunpad and slot-in dinette table. He is also pleased to hear that a freshwater system comes as standard, as do a compass, a depth-sounder, a tonneau cover and a windscreen wiper.

The cuddy is a touch bigger than those of the boat’s main rivals too, and he likes the extra light which the twin portholes let in. Last but by no means least of the atrractions are the standard Mercruiser MPI engine, twin-prop Bravo III leg and trim tabs.

But three things are holding Mark back. The huge bolt-on bathing platform might make the vessel too long to fit on his swing mooring in Poole. He doesn’t feel the inboard bow rails on the foredeck would feel safe when anchoring. And the real killer comes when he realises that the advertised price of £32,164 is excluding VAT; the all-up price, with a trailer, is close to £40,000. Ouch!

Resistance crumbles

Unperturbed, Marina Marbella dealer Dominic Lowe offers to find out whether the factory can add a bow rail and delete the bathing platform at no extra cost (they can), and asks whether Mark can make do with a US-style launch trailer rather than a full UK road trailer (he can), which pushes the part-exchange price down to £26,500.

It’s still busting Mark’s original budget by a big margin, but sometimes a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do, and it’s clear he wants that boat. After much sucking of teeth and crunching of numbers, he is unable to resist.

“The Monterey was a nice boat at a terrific price, but it didn’t seem like the big step up I wanted,” he concludes. “The Sea Ray feels like a boat from the next class up, and the price is partially offset by the higher level of standard equipment and the Bravo III outdrive. In the end, getting the boat I wanted mattered more than keeping to the price I wanted to pay.”

Another handshake, another happy customer, and one more tick on Marina Marbella’s sales chart.