A Good Time to Buy a Used Go-Fast Boat?

Donzi center console

Many performance enthusiasts have switched to center consoles, which means there are a lot of used performance boats on the market. Now might be your chance to own one. BoatTrader.com photo.

The secret is out. Go-fast boats are expensive, maintenance-intensive, more prone to break than any other kind of vessel, and good for, well, not much more than going fast and showing off.

A segment of performance boat owners have realized this, and those buyers are trending toward a likely-yet-unlikely alternative to the traditional closed-bow ocean missile: high-performance center-consoles.

We use that phrase likely because tournament anglers from circuits like the Southern Kingfish Association have done for center-consoles what tournament bass fishermen have done for bass boats: demanded more performance and speed. We say ‘unlikely’ because utilitarian center-consoles have traditionally been oriented to fishing, which isn’t something you do on a poker run—unless trolling at 80 mph in traffic is a new way to catch game fish.

High-performance boat builders have been supplementing their catalogs with center-consoles for some time now. For example, Fountain Powerboats famously used its fishing boat line to subsidize factory racing efforts and prop up the bottom line. The same could be said about Baja and Donzi. Of course, all of those brands, in addition to ProLine, sit idle now while the courts sort out bankruptcy proceedings with former parent company Liberty Marine Holdings.

There are any number of reasons enthusiasts are veering toward center-consoles, but what is interesting to used boat buyers is that the trend is creating an abundance of performance boats on the used market. That, of course, means that there are deals to be had. Banks have been piling up losses on repossessed performance boats—many of which have been stripped of the most valuable parts—and they would love to get rid of them.

That’s where you come in. If you can find one that’s still together, great. But if you find one that is stripped, it’s still possible to get a deal you otherwise could not. Read what I’ve written on this topic before: Used Boat Deals: Engineless Boats, Boatless Engines.

A lot of people don’t own a performance boat because they can’t afford one, so they just make do with a regular boat. Today’s market conditions make it possible for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a performance model to park one at their dock. It needn’t be a 38-foot offshore bruiser. There are lots of performance models in the trailerable 25- to 30-foot range. That said, current market conditions aren’t permanent, so if it’s something that might interest you, the time is now.

Who knows? You might be able to achieve a dream you never thought possible.


Boat Trader has plenty of  Buying and Selling advice, but also check out the hundreds of articles in the Boating section, with tips on everything from seamanship to maintenance, how-to, where to find replacement parts, and much more.