Money floats

Posted by Ken Campbell May 12, 2012 2 Comments 1489 views
I have a kayak in the shop with a price tag of $3000. It’s used (only lightly), and the price represents a significant savings from $4200, which is what it cost when it was new. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sell it for that or not… it’s a good boat but that’s a lot of money.
I’ve owned two sailboats (so far), and neither one of them cost $4200. A 21-foot San Juan and a 27-foot Buccaneer; each of them slept four comfortably, cruised at 6-8 knots, carried 6-10 people at one point or another. They were good boats and worth the money I spent on them.
This is not to compare sailboats and kayaks except to say, that as boats go, kayaks today are overpriced. (I’m sure my saying so will upset the sputtering class, inasmuch as they are paying attention to what I say anyway. So be it.) When all those kayak manufacturing jobs got moved to China from places like British Columbia, Tennessee and Washington, part of the reason for their moving was cost. It was going to be cheaper to produce kayaks overseas – I guess it was wishful thinking to believe that the savings would be passed down to actual kayakers. 
Prices have just gone up and up. It stretches credulity to see how keeping production here in the hemisphere would have caused prices to climb any more than they already have. If, as the companies said, it is cheaper to produce them overseas, then where have all the savings gone? Who is pocketing the money? It sure isn’t the individual kayaker.
And, just as important, the stratospheric price of a new kayak is keeping the younger consumer from the sport. There aren’t many 20-somethings that can cough up the $5000 it’s going to take to get started. And the folks that are even younger, even more important to the continuation of kayaking, they aren’t even considering it. (I suppose this is my pitch for buying a used kayak – great boats at affordable prices might be what it will take to get new people into a kayak of their own.)
There are still a few boats made in the US and Canada. You have to look for them but they are out there. And the amazing thing is, they cost about the same as their Asian counterparts. (Perhaps not so amazing after all.)

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