Boat Ownership Has Never Been More Affordable

Boat Ownership Has Never Been More Affordable

Budget boat advocate Dave Selby reveals how anyone can get afloat

Amidst the glamour of new yachts costing hundreds of thousands of pounds and even millions, campaigning sailor Dave Selby is taking to the Foredeck Stage at the Southampton Boat Show on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15th  September at 4.30pm to reveal how anyone can get afloat in a boat of their own, no matter how modest their means.

The sailing writer, who describes himself as a budget boating evangelist, said: “It’s the untold secret of sailing. People who don’t do it think sailing is exclusive and costly, but boat ownership has really never been more affordable and accessible.”

Dave cites the example of the 26ft Westerly Centaur, one of the most popular sailing yachts of all time, with more than 2400 built from 1969 to 1980. When first launched the roomy, tough and capable family yacht cost over £4000, nearly twice the price of a new Jaguar E-type sports. Today, classic E-types routinely sell for over £100,000. By contrast, over the last 20 years, the average sale price of a second-hand Centaur has fallen by 40%, from £11,500 to £7500.

“It’s a huge amount of boat for the money, and demonstrates the dynamics of the modern day market,” said Practical Boat Owner magazine columnist Dave, who explained: “In fact, you can get on the water in a small yacht of your own for a fraction of that. In market terms it’s a kind of `perfect storm’ brought about by the combination of austerity and an aging population, which means many older people are giving up the water. Added to that, fibre-glass doesn’t rust like metal or rot like wood, so there’s an ever-growing stock of used boats, driving prices down. The great thing is that many early fibre-glass boats were over engineered and really built to last.”

Boat Ownership Has Never Been More Affordable

To drive home his message Dave sailed his 1978 18ft Sailfish yacht, Marlin, over 340 miles to put it on display at the Southampton Boat Show in 2016. “My boat cost me £2000 in 2004, today an equivalent Sailfish would cost around two-thirds of that. What I’m saying is that for less than the price of a single holiday you can buy a boat that will give you holidays of a life-time for a life-time.”

Dave called his adventure Marlin’s Mission, and described it as one of the richest experiences of his life, adding: “My little boat was my universe, I had everything I needed for life at hand, and perhaps that’s the biggest marvel sailing has to give:  to tell us how little we need and how lucky we are. That’s what I want to share.”

Another impetus for Marlin’s Mission was a life-changing ordeal in 2012 when Dave was paralysed from the waist down with a rare nerve illness called Guillain-Barré Syndrome. He explained: “I recovered from that but was then diagnosed with an even rarer variant called CIDP, which means the messages stop getting through to my legs about every four and a half weeks. Then I go into hospital for three days and antibodies from the blood of 800 donors literally give me legs for another month. Humbling. It’s one of those things that gives you a kick up the butt. I even call it ‘my blessing’ because it’s given me so much.”

Thanks to Marlin’s Mission Dave, 59, has so far raised over £13,000 for the Guillain-Barré charity GAIN, which supports those with this rare illness and funds research.

Dave Selby logo

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