We hit our all-time high inventory number this summer with 200 boats for sale or lease. It’s been a busy season. We’ve had more trade-ins and upgrades than we’ve seen in the past eight years. This is a fickle business. We’ve come to expect it.
2016 has been a great year for custom work. My husband, Gary has had to hire extra hands to keep up with the demand. What we like to see is a good boat refurbished with all the bells and whistles. We repaired everything from a leaky faucet to the most important components. Even small amenities, like an on-board water softener for rinsing salty sea water from equipment and diving gear are becoming must-haves for many boat owners. The little luxuries are often the most appreciated.
Of course, new builds are one way Brownells has built its long standing reputation. But a good builder knows that when an older boat comes in, there is usually a rich history and often superb craftsmanship involved. Gary has shared with me how a relationship with a boat is nurtured and developed as he works on a craft. He senses the soul of the boat and brings out the best that any vessel has to offer. I’m proud of the skill and expertise Gary puts into his work.
Mid-winter last year a call came in from a fellow who had purchased a 1999 Whitehaven Motor Yacht from a friend in Florida. It was 50 feet long and in its day was considered top of the line. With just one previous owner the craft had been taken care of and maintained very well – but it was in need of a makeover. Gary got all the specs and decided to make it his main project.
Filling the hanger’s left bay left little room until the weather turned warmer for any other large projects to get underway, but the new owner assured us he would make it worth our time and effort. Named the Mary Belle this boat craved attention like a neglected woman.
Gary started with the twin engines. Going over every part to be certain it was performing at its peak, he then moved on to the other mechanics. He replaced the two pod drives with four to give it more maneuverability and joystick steering. Our client had plans to cruise the Great Lakes since he recently bought a home in that area and wanted to explore the large tributaries.
Gary went over every nook and cranny, from the electrical system, air conditioning, plumbing and then on to the creature comforts. The decking and the railings were a deep, rich teakwood. The helm was polished brass and boasted accents in mahogany. He brought in a specialist to upgrade the navigational and overall computer systems.
Then we had an interior designer come on board to make the space like a home away from home. By the time Brownell’s Boat Yard was done with this beauty we had folks coming to the yard just to take a look. The Mary Belle left dry dock last week. Taking a few days on the open sea to get a feel for his new family member, our client motored back by the boat yard yesterday before heading north to the Canadian shoreline.
Refurbishing an old boat is satisfying and economical when put into the right hands. If properly taken care of, the love of older boats can pay off. Like vintage cars, the oldies, but goodies are being sought after by the small to mid-size boat owner more than ever. At Brownell’s Boat Yard we have the eye and the expertise to bring these beauties back to their prime and give a new owner years of pride and enjoyment.