Looking Back

Published in the April 2011 Issue April 2011 Ask The Expert Brandon Barrus

In many ways, the summer of 1993 wasn't too different from the spring of 2010. Don't believe me? Take a look at the July/August issue of Houseboat and see for yourself. Right there across the cover the words "Top Ten Affordables" are splashed, and a promise to give readers a rundown of pocketbook-friendly houseboats from several manufacturers displayed. Sound familiar? Keep reading.

Houseboat publisher and owner Darryl Harris devoted the opening column to explaining how new tax law hurts houseboaters and may have a negative impact on the industry as a whole.

"The NMMA estimates that the 10 percent excise tax on boats has already resulted in more than 25,000 mostly blue-collar jobs, as well as hundreds of plant and boat dealer closings in the recreational boating industry," Harris wrote.

He went on to illustrate the real-world application of this boat luxury tax, showing how on a new boat priced $175,000, this tax would add $7,500 to the total cost. Manufacturers were complaining that people who normally would purchase a houseboat were scared away due to this new price point. Harris predicted the tax would be repealed, and he was right. Just a few weeks later, Congress repealed the luxury boat tax and the industry experienced a quick turnaround.

This issue of Houseboat also featured letters to the editor, and a reader in Iowa bemoaning the lack of information and fellow houseboaters in his state. Editor Steve Janes promised to send him several back copies of the magazine to aid the reader as he learned about this new frontier.

Opposite this page is an ad for Sun Tracker, and the preponderance of bright greens, neons and yellows makes me wonder why we had such a fascination with looking like parrots in the early 90's. Maybe it was just easier to spot your kid in the water if she was wearing a hot pink life jacket.

After an in-depth article on houseboating in the Florida Keys from freelance writer Bill Starke, the promised article on affordable houseboating comes into picture. After explaining to the reader that with competition so high in the houseboat manufacturing world, great deals were found everywhere, the article jumps right into spotlighting a 40-foot Myacht, which sold for $32,495 and came with not one, but two 12-volt plugs, a water heater, gas/electric refrigerator, LP range with oven, full bath and much more. Further entries were from Tracker Marine, Lakeview Yachts, Harbor Master, Yukon Delta Cruiser, Holiday Mansion, Jamestowner, PlayCraft, Gibson and Susquehanna.

This issue also came packed with tech tips, giving readers information on everything from underwater exploring to figuring out new-generation diesel engines. New product listings designed to make a houseboater's life easier included the Grill Buddy serving board, to extend counter space, and a set of pots and pans that were smaller than traditional sets, to better take advantage of the limited storage space on houseboats.

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