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Used vs new - price and value

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I've been on the hunt for a lightweight solo at a 'reasonable' price. As any of you who have looked at the market lately know, prices on used boats are very high. I see boats that are 20 and 30yrs old but from top tier designers (Bell, Curtis) going for more than a new canoe from Adirondack Canoe Company (a protege/former employee of Hornbeck), and up to last year the Northstars weren't too far beyond that. A new Hemlock or the other quality brands are far out of my price range. I understand that a composite kept indoors and used responsibly holds its value quite well. But is the quality of materials and design so much better that a decades old used one is worth more than a new one of a 'lesser' (or perhaps just less established) maker?

Edit - I should note my thoughts are based on pricing in the Northeast where I am. Prices seem much lower in the West and Southwest. (Maybe since they seem to be short on water these days unfortunately.)
 
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Tsuga8, I don’t know the answer to your questions (I’ve been having similar ones myself!), but did you make it to WPASCR, and if so, did it give you have a better idea about what you’re looking for?

Not sure if it meets your criteria, but in case you haven’t seen it already, a Prism in a lightweight layup just popped up on CL near Albany (link) for a price that seems pretty reasonable to me ($950).
 
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I remember Dave Curtis (Hemlock Canoe) telling me he priced used boats at 60% of retail and slightly more for excellent condition.
 
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@Sliding Focus Great find! Alas, it was gone before I got off work today, which is the other problem with the used (and perhaps even new) canoe market in the Northeast at the moment. (Also I think the Prism is a harder tracking, longer, less maneuverable boat than I'm after, but I know it's a great boat - someone got a great deal on that!). I was all set to roll out to the WPASCR and unfortunately something came up last minute that prevented me.
 
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@Tsuga8 That is too bad, on both counts! I also had to cancel my plans to attend WPASCR at the last minute, so I sympathize—that’s a real bummer! Maybe next year…

I hope you’re able to find yourself a solo soon! FYI, a Wenonah Vagabond just popped up near Albany today (link)—but the seller wants $2k for it, which sort of brings things back around to the question in your OP. That Vagabond may not be 20–30 years old, but it definitely looks a bit sun faded. Unless your dream canoe just happened to be a Kevlar Vagabond (in which case, well, there you go!), why settle for a used boat when a new or demo one from a less-established make doesn’t cost all that much (if any) more? Personally, I wouldn’t—I could see paying $2k+ for a used canoe if it were in great shape and exactly the model, color, etc. I wanted (or very close), but outside of that scenario, I’d either look to spend less (and maybe compromise a bit on some of my wants, be that size, weight, color, condition, etc.), or I’d think about buying new. I can’t say whether other folks here would consider that thinking “reasonable,” though—and I really have too little experience to be giving advice, so don’t take those thoughts for any more than they’re worth…

Of course, none of the above addresses your question about quality/value—I certainly don’t have the experience to answer that one.
 
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Haha I was just furiously reading Vagabond reviews after seeing that listing, but yeah, it illustrates my original question perfectly. Why would someone pay that for a used boat when they can get a new Boreas for the same price, unless you specifically want a Vagabond?

Real shame I missed the Rendezvous and don't have sense of whether I would like this model more or less than others, but the reviews seem mixed so I will probably pass given the cost and distance to try it (not to mention it may well have sold already the way boats seem to go these days).
 
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Tsuga8,
You’re missing the obvious solution to your quest.
Build your own canoe, with as good or better performance as those production boats for waaay less $$$.
And get a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment to boot.
I know you’re not too far away from me, I have a lifetime of boat building experience and have run out of family to pass that experience along. Doesn’t have to be a 4 year apprenticeship, just some guidance and a helping hand now and then.
We’re talking about $700 for a beautiful canoe that performs just the way you want.
All you need is a place to work and a little bit of determination
 
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I remember Dave Curtis (Hemlock Canoe) telling me he priced used boats at 60% of retail and slightly more for excellent condition

That is essentially the same cost at which I price used boats for sale, although usually 2/3 the retail cost for the year it was manufactured. With the caveat that I have never sold a newer, higher end composite, mostly older RX canoes.

Tsuga8, another possible if less likely solution to your quest would be to keep an eye out for a decently lightweight composite that needs some TLC.

A quality hull that needs attention, maybe new brightwork, or some epoxy repairs and outfitting, even new gunwales, is not that hard to make right and doesn’t require much more than the usual Harry Homeowner tools.

There are enough people willing to put in the time and labor, and often minimal expense, that good used deals on boats that need work don’t last long. Especially now with used boat asking prices at crazy levels.

I’ve driven from Maryland to South Carolina for one desirable hull, and to Connecticut for another. Although gas wasn’t $5 a gallon then.

Maybe cast a wider eye for used boats in need of repairs, and be ready to move fast at the right price. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, there is some Facebook group dedicated to buying and selling used canoes. I’m not on Facebook; anyone able to share that link?

And, if anyone sees a decent composite nearabout the Hudson Valley, let Tsuga8 know.

Uh, maybe in a private message. I saw this on another board recently and wasn’t quite sure what to think. Someone posted that they were looking for a lightweight composite solo, and another poster offered a link to a (more than) reasonably priced candidate in their area.

The very next day a new person joined the board. Their first post was essentially the message “Too late, I bought it yesterday. Thanks”.
 
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Real shame I missed the Rendezvous and don't have sense of whether I would like this model more or less than others...

If you want to try out a wider range of hulls, my offer to test paddle my canoes still stands—just PM me. I don’t think mine are exactly what you’d want (and they’re not for sale anyway), but perhaps it’d help inform your preferences? My neighbor wants to try them out too, so maybe the three of us could make an afternoon of it sometime. And I am going to try to be at the Hudson Valley get-together, too, whenever that happens.

...there is some Facebook group dedicated to buying and selling used canoes. I’m not on Facebook; anyone able to share that link?

And, if anyone sees a decent composite nearabout the Hudson Valley, let Tsuga8 know.

That Facebook group is North American Canoe Trader (link).

@Tsuga8 I’m happy to pass along canoes via PM when I see them (though if you're looking in the places @Mike McCrea suggested, you're just as likely to find them yourself first), but for that to be helpful, it’d be useful to have a clearer idea what you’re looking for. If I understand correctly from what you’ve said here and in some of your other threads, you want something that’s lightweight (under 40 lb?), relatively short and maneuverable (under 15 ft?), and affordable (under $2k?). Does that sound right?
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I remember Dave Curtis (Hemlock Canoe) telling me he priced used boats at 60% of retail and slightly more for excellent condition

That is essentially the same cost at which I price used boats for sale, although usually 2/3 the retail cost for the year it was manufactured. With the caveat that I have never sold a newer, higher end composite, mostly older RX canoes.

Having looked at Hemlock's used canoe page for many years and having bought a used canoe from Dave Curtis, I suspect his pricing is 60% or more of the current retail price for the same or very similar model. Many of his own older canoes, as far back as 80's models, are priced above their original retail price.
 
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Thanks, all! I really appreciate the friendly advice and offers of help!

Has the used solo boat market always been this hot, or has covid worsened it?

Sounds like at least the used listings on the Hemlock site have always been on the high side per Mike and Glenn (and those prices are one of the things that prompted my original question). I usually think of used items going for about 1/3 of retail, not 2/3 to 3/4 to 5/4 as I saw recently for a used Bell.

I am cruising the sites recommended fairly regularly and have considered some boats that needed work, just haven't managed to capitalize before someone else snags the good opportunities.

I think part of my problem in a lot of this is time constraints - time to jump on opportunities when they arise, time/flexibility to travel far for a 'maybe', time to build a boat, etc. As I'm sure many do, there are always competing commitments for work, family, etc. So, it's either input of more time, more money, or more patience. Fair enough.

@stripperguy your previous comments have stuck in the back of my head, and again I really appreciate the offers of help. Do you usually build from kits? If so, do you have a preferred company?

I try to stay grounded in getting out on the water in the boats I do have, which have served me well (enough) for years now.
 
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I haven't read the other responses but I imagine it's just the law of supply and demand. What's the time line for ordering a new canoe?
I'm guessing there isn't a lot available on either the new or the used market and that demand has either remained the same or even gone up, which drives up price.

So it's either pay to play or wait until the market changes, unless you luck into something.

Five years ago it was a completely different story.

Alan
 
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Tsuga8,
No I don’t build from a kit, but I have purchased plans and I was also given plans by David Yost.
I have a 39 lb cedar stripped Kite, that I rarely use since I built a carbon copy of that hull.
I’m not that far from you, in the town of colonie
PM me for my address, you can come try it out to see if you like such a design.
 
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I've been haunting Craigslist for years looking for a light solo.. here in CO it's worse as canoes are a rarity at best. Used Royalex solos come up occasionally, often at more than original retail.
In new boats the best thing I've seen is the Esquif Adirondack, 12', 39lb and $1200. That's too short for comfortable cruising but should work well for fishing and when not in a hurry..
 
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My grandfather told me - "what do you have more of, time or money". Waiting for a used boat to turn up is great if it saves you money and is close to home. But waiting robs you of time on the water and who knows what tomorrow brings health-wise, economy etc. Also, driving all over h3ll's half acre to look at boats will cost a ton now that gas is $5 a gallon.
It seems to be a sellers marker now with many things. I see 10 year old used fly rods selling for more than the original msrp and I'm talking mass produced graphite rods - not handmade bamboo.
Things appreciate in value based on demand. I have a wenonah tandem canoe that I may sell one day if my kids don't want it and I'll certainly take 60% of current retail - what is the other option for a potential buyer - pay full retail or wait months or years for a better deal to turn up?
I put in an order for a new boat last December and it is 3 months past the anticipated delivery date. Problems getting materials, deliveries, etc. not even sure I'll see it this summer at this rate.
 
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I hear covid made it much worse, a combined materials shortage / supply chain problem and social distancing meant that all outdoor sports hardware sold out, new stuff has not been able to meet the demand, and demand has not waned. At some point the bubble must burst, leaving lots of folks with canoes they paid too much for which means the secondary market will be screwy for a while. I’m eagerly anticipating a new canoe to be delivered in November. I hope the interim price adjustments aren’t too brutal…
 
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Regarding used composite canoes I have missed a couple incredible deals in just the past few months.

A kevlar Souris River Quetico 16. Dimensionally almost identical to my beloved big boy tripper, a soloized Penobscot 16, but 20+ lbs lighter. It was significantly under priced and needed no major work. 40 minutes away, I was the second person to respond. Dang it, too late.

A month or so later I saw a Craigslist for four composite rotted gunwale Mad Rivers; from the photos a Courier, a Malecite, an Explorer and something else MRC. The hulls appeared to be in fine condition, but the gunwales and brightwork were shot.

$100 each in northern Virginia. They were all sold the next day; I’m guessing a fellow rebuilder showed up with a trailer and took them all.

Doesn’t hurt to keep looking. Of course we have a lot of canoes, so I’m not stuck on dry land as I look for the next rebuild deal.
 
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I am seeing lots of canoes sub 500 on North American Canoe Trader. That is a FB group programmed to skim off canoe offerings from Craigs list Kijii etc in the USA and Canada.. Prices are everywhere.
 
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That FB group is both useful and the opposite. It's helpful for finding boats, but also means that good boats at good prices go fast, because a wider audience of those 'in the know' are seeing and jumping on the good opportunities. I see a ton of tandems, nice and junk, go by. Solos less often, but they're out there as well, tho mostly not sub $500 from what I've seen.
 
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Haha I was just furiously reading Vagabond reviews after seeing that listing, but yeah, it illustrates my original question perfectly. Why would someone pay that for a used boat when they can get a new Boreas for the same price, unless you specifically want a Vagabond?

Real shame I missed the Rendezvous and don't have sense of whether I would like this model more or less than others, but the reviews seem mixed so I will probably pass given the cost and distance to try it (not to mention it may well have sold already the way boats seem to go these days).
Hmm you have referenced Adirondack Canoe Company, and Boreas several times so am I to think that is what you are after?
 
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