As summer passes into autumn like the turning of a page to a new chapter, the weather inevitably starts getting colder and boaters across the country begin to pack things up, forgetting about the water, at least for awhile. But, if you're in the Southern states, or still in the market for a deal - or perhaps just looking to upgrade for next boating season - the fall can be a great time to shop for new and used boats. In fact, there are still plenty of great deals to be had out there. Here are 5 reasons why this autumn has both obvious and unexpected advantages when searching for your next vessel.

1. Motivated sellers - In the autumn months, sellers may tend to be a bit more motivated than in the summer or spring. After all, fall is the season of letting things go, right? In late September, that motivation can really ramp up, with some boat owners in a race to get their boat sold and off the yard before the frosty weather of the winter months sets in and the snow starts to fly. That means the countdown clock begins ticking on the September 22 Equinox, towards the first day of Winter on December 21, the Winter Solstice.

Reasons for this increase in motivation can vary widely, but some of the more frequent issues we see driving these types of sales are:

  • Challenges with winter boat storage and limited weather-proof space

  • New owners who have found themselves with a boat they can't quite handle - maybe she's too wide for the garage, too deep for the marina wet slips or too long for the local dry storage facility, etc

  • Cost of ownership overwhelms some new boaters who then look to sell the boat rather than maintain it year round.

  • Fall cleanup projects can lead to boat sales, since raking up leaves often leads to bigger cleanups. As the saying goes, "the trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go". 

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a huge increase in new boaters this year and some of these boaters may now find that boat ownership isn't quite ideal for them - or on the flip side they may realize they want to upgrade their boat - thus they're eager to sell the vessel quickly.

2. Dealer deals - In the fall, many yacht brokers and boat dealerships will look to clear out their inventory by having "end-of-the-year blowout" sales events. This is a great opportunity to get a deal on a new boat that just slipped through the cracks for the dealers during the busier summer months. Just make sure it's not still on the lot for good reason! Another reason why this is even more relevant this year is due to supply chain and inventory problems, some boats may be arriving late to the game and dealers may not want them to sit on the lot all winter gathering snow and ice.

3. Less competition - In the Spring, it seems everyone is thinking about getting out on the water. The water beckons to us all. As Leonardo da Vinci once wrote "water is the driving force of all nature".  In those early months, even non-boaters seem to start dreaming of getting into the sport and lifestyle, some even researching how to buy a boat and getting their feet wet on their journey to ownership. That drives the prices of boats up.

But in the fall, there tends to be less buyers in the market who are searching for new and used boats in general. This means that boat dealers and private sellers may not have as many offers on the table as they did earlier in the year, thus you won't necessarily have to beat out that cash buyer who walks in 5 minutes after you've fallen in love with your dream vessel are are trying to secure a boat loan for financing the purchase.

4. Fall projects - Autumn is historically a great time to start a winter project that can keep you busy during the colder months. That means now might be the best time of year to search for that vintage boat - a classic fixer-upper - to start your hibernal boat restoration project. If you have the storage space, this can be a great time to take on an older boat that needs some work. As always, beware here as many older boats can hide a lot of problems and come with many skeletons in the closet (or in the hull). But if you find a great restoration candidate, this is the season to snag a deal and get to work in your garage, backyard tent or workshop. Many a winter blues can be cured with a good project to keep your mind occupied. Little in life is as fulfilling as patiently, diligently focusing on a boat restoration - making incremental progress each day and week, that - lo and behold - in the spring emerges from the garage as a thing of beauty, ready for the water. 

5. Extended boating Season - Fall is an underrated boating season in many parts of the country. I must admit, with less crowds on the water and the beauty of all the colorful foliage - the red and orange flaming leaves - and the wonder of the changing seasons, fall is actually probably my favorite time for boating. As the American naturalist and transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau wrote in his book Walden, “I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” And yes, it's colder, but if you get the right foul weather gear for boating or have a cabin cruiser (or any type of boat with a protected helm such as a pilothouse or crossover), you can really push the season and maximize your time out on the water taking advantage of your investment.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in October 2020 and was last updated in September 2021.

Written by: Ryan McVinney
C. Ryan McVinney is a film director, writer and producer. As an experienced boater he regularly produces and directs on-the-water video shoots for major boat manufacturers, yacht brokers and dealers, as well as independent film and media companies. He is president of the National Soho House Film Club with chapters in Miami, FL, Manhattan, NY and Los Angeles, CA and regularly contributes content to YachtWorld, and Boat Trader.