Are you thinking about buying a boat? Trying to get an idea on the cost of boat ownership? In this article I will try my best to answer some of those questions for you. Some of my friends sometime ask me about costs associated with boat ownership. I always shy away from the question for two reasons. The first reason is that there really isn’t a way to determine the exact costs associated with boating. The second reason is that I don’t want to hear their “really, that’s so much, wow, and it must be nice to have your kind of money” comments. There is a saying that BOAT stands for “Bring out another thousand”. Are you still considering a boat? off course you are, so let me help you understand the costs.
purchase price of your boat:
So after an exhaustive search and much research, you settle on the boat you want to buy. If you’re still looking for help deciding on a boat, check out my thoughts on purchasing your first boat. The initial purchase price of the boat could be substantial depending on the type of boat you choose. I’m not going to go in depth into this subject because I cover boat selection in another post. I want to dedicate this article to what I call the real costs associated with boat ownership.
I’m going to start with the traditional fees associated with boat ownership. Marina fees! I am basing my estimates on a 30 foot slip and a 26 foot cabin cruiser kept in lake Ontario. Most marina’s have comparable fees, unless you join a Yacht Club. Yacht clubs are a bit more expensive and will usually charge an initiation fees as well as some club associated yearly fees.
Summer slip fees = 2250$
Winter storage including haul in and haul out = 1173$ (you can reduce this cost if you have your own storage)
Winterization = 450$
Shrink wrapping = 479$ (you can eliminate this cost if you tarp)
total = 4352$
These fees are the most predictable fees relating to the basic operation of your boat. Unfortunately boating related costs go well beyond these fees. This is how;
There are common costs associated with getting your boat ready in the spring. These costs are boat specific so please keep that in mind as you are reading. Usually boats operated in the great lakes require bottom paint. I use VC 17 on my boat, and that sells for 65$ a quart. I usually apply one quart a year. Some people prefer to apply more coats and skip a year. No matter how you look at it, when you add the cost of a paint brush, painters tape you reach 100$. Preparing your boat for spring requires other supplies. This can be anything from cleaning supplies to silicone for the windows to deck lines…. the possibilities are unfortunately endless and I usually spend anywhere from 150$ to 300$ just getting the boat ready for launch. I am low balling the cost of spring preparation as some boater spend much more. For example, some boaters prefer to have a mechanic look the boat over in the spring and go through a spring startup checklist. I think you get the point I am trying to make here with the endless possibilities.
Yes, you think this wont be much, but it really adds up. Its hard to enjoy your boat, without inviting friends and family over. I found that food and drink related costs were one of my highest expenditures.
Marine fuel costs significantly more that fuel you buy at the gas station for your car. My tank needs approximately 400$ to fill up. I can go through a tank in a couple of month with moderate operation. Like entertainment costs, fuel costs is something that is subjective and different for everyone.
There are two types of maintenance that you have to keep in mind. General upkeep and unexpected maintenance.
Upkeep includes things like changing your bellows 1300$ (every 5-10 years). Sacrificial anodes 250$ (every 3-4 years). You need to pull your drive off every year or at the latest every second year to make sure it’s in good order. There always seems to be something small to repair. Small in boating terms is 500$. Your Canvass top usually needs some attention $$ every few years. The older the canvass, the more work it will need to keep the water out. Ripped seems and cracking windows have to be repaired. This should be done as you go, and is preventative in nature.
unexpected maintenance is the one to worry about. Engine issues or a slew of other problems can be pricy. For example an engine rebuild can easily run you 5000-6000 dollars.
Having read up to this point you may be thinking, “wow, it must be nice to have your kind of money”. There is a positive side to boat ownership and please don’t let me discourage you from getting into boating. Boating is a wonderful and rewarding life style and can get addictive very quickly. The key is to understand the finances required to carry out such an exercise and to be prepared for it. You can do that in several ways. First, you can set up automatic biweekly transfers from your bank account into a savings account. This is helpful because it spreads the expected costs evenly through the year. I suggest moving a little bit more money into your savings account to create a buffer for the unexpected costs. Another thing you can do to cut cost, is share your boat with a second person. This cuts your costs in half and makes boat ownership much more attainable. The rest all comes down to your commitment, how you selected your boat and quite honestly luck.
To tell you that you can eliminate surprises in boating would be wrong of me to do. There will always be expenses and surprises. If you plan well you will be in a good position to weather those surprises and enjoy the wonderful world of boating.
Good luck, and hope to see you on the water.