Selling a build

 Just wondering if any out there build boats to sell.  I'm looking to build in my retirement and potentially sell a few.  In particular chesapeake 16 and shearwater sport hybrid.  Also an idea on pricing would be appreciated.  Thank you

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RE: Selling a build

i guess it depends on your objectives.

as an example, while i don't explicitly build boats to sell, i have sold 10 out of the 13 boats i have built...because i can't keep everyone.

and there are plenty of builders who sell....without trying to make a living.

for these non-professional sellers, getting back the price of the kit plus a couple hundred bucks is probably doing well.  a quick perusal of the boats for sale section of the CLC website and a look at offer prices suggests many boats being sold at or below the price of the kit.

you can also look on e-bay to get a sense of things.

that said, in order to sell at anything close to kit price or better is very related to your build skills and customer finding strategy.   if its not built very well, its very tough to sell at any reasonabe price.  and you have to be able to find customers...and its not a very liquid market.

so you can fund your hobby if you do well....but making any kind of real return for your hours is tough.

thats my 2 cents.



RE: Selling a build

The easiest way to make a small fortune building kit boats is to start with a large fortune.

Seriously, the problem is that people willing to pay a fair price for skilled labor are far and few between. The going rate is typically the materials cost, with your labor being free. That's fine for a hobby but sucks for putting food on the table.

If you want to figure the price you should be getting, add up the materials, the depreciation of your tools, the cost of electricity if you are using power tools, the cost of maintaining your workspace. Put something aside for liability insurance. Keep in mind that if you build and sell enough boats the government will declare you a business and want a cut for taxes, hazardous waste disposal, etc. Once you've got all those costs figured, add in the number of hours you work on the boat multiplied by what you think your labor is worth. Make it at least minimum wage. That's what building the boat costs you if you are running it as an actual business.

If you are just looking at a self-financing hobby, getting back the materials cost is achievable if you do a quality build.

Good luck,



RE: Selling a build

  "The easiest way to make a small fortune building kit boats is to start with a large fortune."

I think I'll post that on my refrigerator, Lazlo. . . . Words to remember.

RE: Selling a build

Yeah, it pretty much sums it up for me. Wish I could take credit, but I didn't come up with it. It's one of the millions of unattributable duck-billed platitudes scattered across the internet.



RE: Selling a build

Duck-billed platitudes? Laszo, it's skerry that your wood duck that low for a pun. SEEYA Jack   

RE: Selling a build

Everyone admires the boat but few are willing to shell out the cost of materials.  The majority of the market are "recreational" paddlers. Essentially they are happy with a plastic tub from the big box retailer that fits in the back of their hatch back.  Not the market you'd need to sell nicely assembled boats.


For example, look for Kayak and Canoe or boating clubs of the type you are building. For example, a club that schedules 10 mile out and backs and/or open water kayaking will be more interested in a sea kayak than one that only schedules 3 mile down stream with a shuttle trips.    


Still the best way to make a small fortune in cubstom small boat building is start with a large fortune.  I agree with above.

RE: Selling a build

I think there's also another issue at stake here that has been bouncing around in the back of my head:  licensing.  When you buy a kit, you can really only build one boat from that unless you trace all the parts onto new sheets of plywood.  When you buy plans, you cut out your own parts.  While I was cutting out my parts, I also cut out masonite templates of each piece just in case the boat came together well, I can now build an exact duplicate with much less effort of lofting out the parts.  My boat fit together as well as if it had been CNC'd by CLC.  When you buy a kit or a set of plans, one boat hull is implied with the purchase.  If you build more than one boat from a single purchase, I believe there is some sort of royalty or licensing fee owed to the designer.  

To take this concept even further, I could take some time to digitize my templates and using my CNC router (if I was the type of person that could even fathom doing something like that) I could possibly become CLC's number one Eastport Pram kit dealer in the PNW unbeknownst to them, effectively robbing them of profits.  

My point is that building boats for sale is a very slippery slope.  It's one thing to build a boat for yourself, then sell it.  It's a completely different thing to build boats to sell so it must be done with the designer's knowledge/blessing.  

To top this off, I'm currently working at an aluminum boat building company where we use our own very closely held proprietary design, so I'm knee deep in the biz.  I've even priced out what aluminum would cost to build an EP (3x okoume).

RE: Selling a build

   Hi there,

Hope you don't mind a Brit horning in on your Forum.

I have built 7 kits from CLC UK partner Fyne Boats Limited ranging from the Eastport Pram to the Skerry and lost money on all of them - in the case of small canoes/kayaks you can't compete with the cheap plastic boats.

So what I do is accept that and build my boats for the pleasure derived from working with wood and producing something beautiful and then I cooperate with a friend who owns a local harbourside  restruant to auction the boats for charity during events held at his place.

Charities range from Help for the Heroes (soldiers badly injured in Iraq and Afghanistan) to Mcmillan Trust (nursing for terminal cancer patients)

I lose money as I donate the boat but otherwise every one gains..

I know Iam lucky aged 73 and financially comfortable but its very satisfying.

Someone once said ' Sailing boats is like standing in the shower tearing up 5 dollar bills'

Derek Blay

Isle of Anglesey

Wales, UK






RE: Selling a build

Hey Derek,

I was in Beaumaris a few years ago.  Accidentally stumbled into the RAYC for pint, got invited to do a beercan race, was given a burgee, which is a prized possession.  All in all, great memories.  Just bummed that I evidently didn't meet any druids.


RE: Selling a build


Beaumaris is a lovely town set on the Menai Straits between mainland Wales and the Island of Anglesey

The area overall is a Mecca for all type sof watersports and I would certainly recommend it to Americans in this part of the worl (servicemen for instance) 

The reason you didnt see a Druid is that the Romans killed of the last of them around 50 AD in a big battle on the Menai Straights.

A bit like the opening scenes in the film Gladiator!





RE: Selling a build

   That's Pax Romana for ya.

RE: Selling a build

   Laslo, I got a real quack out of "duck-billed platitudes". I intend to use it w/out attribution. Sorry.

RE: Selling a build

Go for it. I came up with it in 1979 at a meeting where a company veep was trying to encourage us with a few ripe ones. A few years later I saw it in a then-new book by Robert Heinlein, so I figured at tha point it was too late to try and own it. It's my free gift to the English-speaking world.


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