Friday, February 12, 2010

Trailerable Cruisers and Runabouts

The Boat Buyer’s Guide to Trailerable Cruisers and Runabouts By Ed McKnew
(International Marine McGraw-Hill / 0-071-47355-6 / 978-0-071-47355-2 / April 2006 / 384 pages / $24.95)

Ed McKnew has been producing his Boat Buyer’s Guide series for many years. He had a successful career as a yacht broker in an area full of boat dealers south of Houston TX near the Gulf before he set up his American Marine Publishing operation in Traverse City MI to publish an annual CD-ROM of all the categories of boats. Until this year, McGraw-Hill has been publishing paperback versions of Ed’s CD in segmented form. According to his website, this 2006 edition is to be the last of the print versions. The big CD version will continue to be sold for $70 directly from the website. The other sections from 2006 still available in print form are Motor Yachts and Trawlers, Sportfishing Boats, and Trailerable Fishing Boats. Since I have spent the last year developing the only book that seems even remotely to be a competitor to this one, I have thoroughly read Trailerable Cruisers and Runabouts and here is my report.

Ed McKnew claims his books were initially compiled for boat brokers and dealers to use as a reference for price valuations of used boats of recent years, and that most certainly is a strongly applicable statement. This book should have a lesser appeal to individual retail boat buyers; however, for anyone planning to drop ten grand (or far more) on a used boat, what’s another $24.95? There is very little else out there that offers even similar information to that contained in Ed’s book. Any potential boat buyer could get a look at a lot of brands and compare price values and other details, model against model. This is not a book to read cover-to-cover, although I just did. The only straight text in the book is contained in the introductory pages. The remainder is composed of individual boat models, two to a page, with a 1 ½” x 2 ½” photo, a photo or line drawing of similar size showing the seating layout from above, a few minimal specifications, a basic price chart for the production years up through 2004, and a short descriptive paragraph of each one. What you see is what you get, page after page.

As a buyer’s guide for retail boat shoppers, I could make a lot of noise about the lack of certain complete information and the consistent emphasis on certain elements. For example, I could care less about the draft up and down, water capacity, or deadrise that is stated for every boat in this book. Performance figures are often quoted for engine options not reflected in the price chart, too. The photos are too small to discern very much detail. Certain issues are mentioned repeatedly in quite an unnecessary manner, such as the choice of standard or sport seating in a runabout. Newsflash, dude, they all have it! You can buy practically every runabout being produced with either jump seats or a large bench in the stern. Fortunately for Mr. McKnew, he makes no incorrect claims about his book. If you think of boats as product, as any dealer does, this book makes perfectly good sense.

Anyone considering buying a boat and entering the recreational boating hobby should purchase one or several appropriate books beforehand. Knowledge before you buy is always a good thing. Beginners should read the books for Dummies or Idiots, whichever style suits you best. I have read a number from both and I personally prefer the Dummies Series. If you want to get into the depth of boat design or seriously compare specific models, then the Sorensen’s Guides are for you. Ker-Splash 2: The High Performance Powerboat Book schools the novice buyer with an ocean of data while seasoned hobbyists swim its entertaining waters. If you want to get into specific valuations or details as described above, Trailerable Cruisers and Runabouts is for you.

Special note to Amazon & McGraw-Hill: This book is not 384 pages covering more than 600 boats. Sportboats are listed as a category on the cover, but there is no Sportboat section in this book. The book is 312 pages long covering 555 boats in four categories. Since I love boats, I liked the book anyway, but this is a detail that potential buyers should know beforehand. I intend no animosity toward the author, publisher, or retailer over this issue. Someone just made a little boo-boo.

See also: Ed McKnew's Website
All the Books in This Series

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