Owner Boat Reviews Gaining In Popularity - 08/13/2008

Now in its 6th year, BoatTEST.com’s “Owner Boat Reviews” are gaining in popularity as more and more members check them when doing buying research. Each week scores of altruistic members fill out the 15 questions that cover the boat, its engine, performance, accommodations, dealership, factory and a number of other critical subjects of boats they own. The concept is to provide boat buyers -- both new and used -- with valuable insights to help them make the right buying decision about specific brands and models.

Cobalt 200
Cobalt 200:
Enough power?

“Faster to plane than in BoatTEST data -- under 4 sec to plane with 4 people.
Four Winns 240
Four Winns 240 Funship:
Things to Change?
“Freshwater pump switch move to helm instead of being in the head.”
Polar 2300 WA
Polar 2300 WA:
Changes needed?

“Foam or core the hull to reduce noise below underway”.
Sea Hunt
Sea Hunt 260:
Happy with dealer?

“No. Horrible customer service. Penny pinching wife runs the show, knows nothing…[about] a boat dealer[ship].”
Regulator 26 FS
Regulator 26 FS:

Used in seas up to 5-6' up to 70 miles offshore. Comfortable 28 kt cruise in 3-4' seas…extremely solid even with 5-6' head sea.”
JC Pontoon 23
JC Pontoon 23 SunToon TT:
Other comments?
“My first toon…need counseling, still feel it's not a ‘real boat’, have a boating inferiority complex."

When BoatTEST started the owner reviews back in 2003 we used ratings, a la J.D. Power. We asked owners to rate on a scale of 1 to 5, five critical areas of the boat, and in each area we asked for several scores. This is essentially what J. D. Power and Associates does. We quickly discovered that the scores were incredibly close, and a fraction of one point usually separated the very best boats from the most basic ones. The scores were not particularly meaningful, and were of absolutely no help to a buyer entering the market, trying to sort out fact from hype.

We Wanted Insights Not Eyewash

Scores have glamour and are made to order for rankings and headlines, but in the case of boats – which usually involve very low production numbers – personal observations in key areas are simply more instructive, we found.

By asking open-ended questions we allow the boat owner to draw from his own experience with a specific boat model what he thinks is meaningful. And by asking in the beginning about the number of hours the owner has spent with the boat and where he boats, one can quickly ascertain the experience of the reviewer. It is quite easy to separate the neophytes from the veterans, and one can weight the advice accordingly.

Owner Reviews are NOT Edited

In the beginning, and for several years, the BoatTEST staff members personally read every review, primarily to edit out those submitted by boat dealers puffing their own brands. Believe it or not, we discovered that the sales manager for a major company once filled out a glowing report about one of his own boats. (This problem is not limited to the boating industry when it comes to owner reviews on the Internet.) We finally realized that if the phony reviews were obvious to us, they would be just as obvious to our discerning readers. So we stopped reading the reviews -- even to expunge foul language. (If you discover something offensive, please write to the editor.)

Community of Serious Boat Owners

Each month over 375,000 visitors from all over the world come to BoatTEST.com looking for information about boats. We thank the conscientious boat owners who deposit their experiences and insights on our owner review pages so that others may benefit.

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