It's not all doom and gloom
Anybody who visited the recent London Boat Show could be forgiven for wondering what all this talk of recession is about. Listen to the doom-mongers and you’d swear that the four horsemen of the apocalypse were about to come riding over the horizon to kill off motorboating once and for all. The Ghost of Red Diesel Past would be leading the charge on his deathly black stallion, with Sub-prime Mortgage and Global Warming in hot pursuit, and the spectre of Peters Opal galloping on behind to finish off any stragglers. It’s a scarily compelling vision except that it didn’t turn out that way.
Instead of the empty stands and clumps of tumbleweed blowing along the aisles there were crowds of eager punters queuing up to file through the latest displays of wall-to-wall GRP. Instead of dealers flinging themselves from the flybridges of stock boats welded to the showroom floor, there were buyers flinging themselves at the salesmen’s feet to secure the next build slot on Sunseeker’s stunning new 86 Yacht or Fairline’s yet-to-be-launched Squadron 55. I know it wasn’t like that on every stand but most exhibitors were still pleasantly surprised by the business they were doing. I met one reader running around the show like a man possessed. He had been asked by a wealthy client to draw up a list of possible boats for him and his mates to buy; one of them wanted a 90ft flybridge yacht, the other a 50ft lobster boat and the third a state-of-the-art sailing yacht. Now that’s the kind of job I could get used to.
So what is going on? Are the boating elite immune to the ebb and flow of interest rates and FTSE indices or is this the final hurrah before we all hit the kill-switch and take up bird-watching instead? Personally, I don’t think it’s either. Most boat owners I know are neither stinking rich nor reckless with their finances. They are, however, passionate about their boating and rational in their decision-making. They know what’s coming and they will find a way to cope with it. To them owning a boat is not a financial investment, it’s an investment in life. The chances are you’re going to lose a certain amount of money wherever you put it but believe me you’ll get a whole lot more pleasure sitting on the aft deck of a Princess 50 watching the sun go down than you will sitting in an office watching your share prices tumble.