Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Karl's Comment

In Moth Chronicles today Karl writes "It appears increasingly that the only people with enough time to do development work of any real value and sail at a high level are people who neither build nor blog. It doesn't hurt to be independently wealthy either..."

So I got to thinking about how wealthy is wealthy. Forgetting the development aspect for a minute and just looking at the price to buy a world-class production boat, I dragged out a 1975 price list from John Claridge, builder of arguably the top-of-the-line custom skiffs of that time. His 'Stage 5' Magnum 2, described in a glossy brochure as
A Complete Boat ready to win -- For the person who is financially able to take full advantage of John's experience this stage is an excellent value. All boats are fitted out with tried and tested gear, including alloy spars, self-bailer, ratchet main-sheet block, Saunders fully battened mainsail, etc., the excellent quality of finish, for which Claridge Boats are well known, colour to choice.
Cost was listed as 570GBP. Add the 12.5% V.A.T. and the total is 641.25GBP "ex works, Lymington." I then went to an on-line inflation calculator for dollars and pounds which shows that 641.25GBP in 1975 is approximately equivalent to $6000 in 2007, or about one third of the cost of a new Bladerider.

So, yeah, I know that this ain't 1975 and the carbon foilers of today are not the ply boats of yesteryear, but this difference still points out we are attracting a sailor with a significantly different income level. When boats are cheap, developemnt is easy. Now not only is the bar raised and the cost of Karl's "development work of real value" beyond most of us, the price even to play with the "standard" boat is three times what it was back in the day. Is it any wonder that the average Joe home builder (without the CNC and software) is in a definite minority?

I'm not going to fret. The boat's together and I'm going sailing. And, hey, as for the wealthy dudes and dudettes, at least by moving the empty crate into the garage, I can simulate the BR factory team repair stand....

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