Dawn of the dayboat — or when is a little less a lot more?

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Seems like everybody I know these days is working harder, wearing more hats, shouldering more stress.

I also know more people today who are trying to figure out how to spend more time on their current boat than I do people trying to figure out how to spend more money on more boat.

And it’s usually not just about the money. Increasingly, it’s more about time. There simply ain’t enough of it.

Is this the dawning of a new age of the dayboat and the weekender? Boats that are better suited for fun in the sun and maybe an occasional night or two on the hook or at the marina.

I still call it gunkholing. Right after 9/11 you heard the term “nesting” used a good bit. A new variation on the same theme that may or may not work its way into our nautical lexicon is “coving.” You know the drill. It’s taking the boat to the sandbar, the back bay, the creek, the slew, an island cove, a waterfront restaurant — for a few hours, for the day, maybe the night. And then you’re back home, batteries recharged and heading off on the next mini-adventure or task.

How many families are still able to pack up the kids and Fido and take a two-week cruise each summer? Do families with two working parents who also double as soccer moms and Little League dads have more time or less?

Doesn’t it make sense to design, lay out and build boats for how they’re actually used rather than how we may have used them in the past? Or how we dream of someday using them, but never quite get there?

Bayliner last week introduced a new line of recreational dayboats, or RDBs, to 21 feet that better target just how customers use its boats.

“In the past, folks wanted to go 50 to 55 mph,” Bayliner product portfolio manager Michael Yobe said at the unveiling last week. “Speed is not as important as the ability to carry those people. … They define performance as the ability of a boat to carry 10 people and tow a tuber or wakeboarder. Top end is not that important.”

And it’s not just small boats. Larger boats with big price tags are also morphing into elegant dayboats with more open layouts conducive to socializing, with the galleys moved up, big swim platforms, sunpads and the like.

Cruising and passagemaking will never disappear, thank the Lord. It’s a wonderful, invigorating element of our sport. But keep an eye on how folks are using their boats. Look at the demographics.

Where is all this heading?

We have a generation of baby boomers that’s terrified of running out of time. Make it easier to get out on the water. Make it easier to stay in the sport. As an industry we can do more to encourage people to use their boats through rendezvous, fishing tournaments, short hops and the like.

Develop a product mantra that makes sense: moderate power, moderate costs, moderate speeds. Boats that are reliable, efficient, seaworthy for their size, easy to maintain, handsome and fun.

Scale that to fit your customer. All things are relative. That doesn’t mean the boat can’t be elegant and high-end — or aluminum with a slide and folks humming the country song “Redneck Yacht Club.”

The idea that a little less can mean a lot more is good business, especially in today’s market.


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