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How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Boat?


If you have spent a couple of weekends with a rental boat or had a great time on a friend’s or family’s boat, you may have decided that you would get a boat of your own. But you might be wondering what type of boat you should get? What type of boat is best suited for you and your family? What would you use your boat mainly for? Where will you store your boat when not in use? And what are the costs incurred with owning a boat? Well, we will help you become organized and provide you with answers to these troubling questions. You will also learn more about annual maintenance, usage and storage coasts, upfront expenses, and the costs to maintain a boat.

Understanding the True Cost of Boat Ownership

According to Mint Intuit, the most common mistake people make when buying a boat is only focusing on the labeled price of the boat presented for sale. It is often advisable to also consider the additional costs associated with boat ownership, including:

1. Fuel and Other Operating Costs

Regardless of the size, age and model, boats usually consume a lot of fuel, about 8-12 gallons per hour of boat operation for a single-engine model. The fuel price at a marina costs about $1,300 more than fueling at a filling station. It is also advisable to buy ethanol-free boat fuel and consider using a fuel stabilizing additive with each fuel fill-up. There are also other operating expenses associated with pumps, lights, batteries, oil, and specialized boat equipment. However, these operating costs usually vary based on the type of your boat. You can also get some insights on boat fueling and other operating costs from experienced friends and family, who will help you budget for these items appropriately.

2. Trailer

A trailer purchase is usually an inevitable and essential component for most smaller boats. This is because, at some point, you will have to haul your boat in and out of the water. In some cases, the price of a trailer is usually included in the final price of the boat you are purchasing, and sometimes, it is considered an entirely separate purchase. Regardless of the case, you must also be aware of the additional expenses associated with buying a trailer. This includes; insurance cover of the trailer, additional maintenance costs that are about $100 per year, and the potential storage costs if you plan on not storing the trailer on your property.

3. Boat Winterizing

On average, it costs about $300 to have your boat winterized professionally, but if you plan on doing it yourself, it will cost you about $150. However, how much it will cost you to winterize your boat often depends on the type of your boat and its current condition. Winterizing your boat is really important if your boat has motors. If you fail to winterize your boat, the overall performance of your boat will decrease and will be generally unsafe during winter. If you plan on winterizing your boat by yourself, make sure the motor’s interior is left completely dry to avoid problems such as fuel tank problems, corrosion, and lower unit breakdown.

4. Moorage and Storage

Storing your vessel on land in a storage facility or mooring a boat at a marina is often accompanied by various expenses that differ among boat storage facilities and marinas—for example, mooring your vessel in the water at a private marina, exclusive yacht club, or municipal marina costs considerable more than storing your boat in a secure storage facility. Mooring your boat in the water at a marina costs around $250 because they charge extra things like optional car parking, utility fees for fresh water supplies, and electrical power. To plan accordingly with your budget, you should consider consulting with an experienced boat broker. These storage and moorage costs usually range from a hundred to a thousand dollars per month.

5. Boat Equipment & Accessories

It is crucial to equip your new boat with all the equipment and accessories required while operating on the water. They include; towels, first aid supplies, lifejackets, cleaning supplies, fishing tackle, water sports gear, and signal flares. Most of these items cost less than $300 but still contribute to the overall cost of maintaining your boat. For additional accessories, you should have safety gear like paddles, life jackets, towing equipment, and more. You may also consider fitting your boat with some new equipment and upgrading your boat accessories with LED lighting, stereos, etc. However, you do not need to get your boat; all these upgrades at once start with the essential equipment.

6. Maintenance and Repairs

Like a vehicle, your boat also has annual maintenance costs that usually depend on the model of your boat and how frequently it is used. The repairs and maintenance expenses also vary based on the boat’s engine size, fresh or saltwater usage, the local area, and the type of storage used. The most common items that need maintaining are engine tune-ups, painting, and hull waxing, which costs about $500. If your boat has electrical and plumbing issues, frequent repairs might also be required. According to Boatingvalley, a boat’s maintenance and repair costs are approximately 5-10 percent of the total annual boat value.

7. Extras & Add-ons

To help improve the overall experience of your boat, they can come with a standard factory-built add-on or feature numerous optional add-ons. These extras and add-ons include sportfishing packages, anchoring systems, engine power, upgraded upholstery packages, laundry rooms, GPS navigation systems, and many more. These extra add-ons can cost about $450. However, the ability and desire to include these extras and add-ons to your boat will depend on your planned budget and the amount of money you are willing to invest in your vessel.

8. Warranties and Interest

The option of purchasing extended warranties is usually available on some of the recent boat models. In such cases, you are advised to consider studying closely and ensure you fully understand what the extension of the extended warranty will cover and what things are already covered by the limited warranty. Moreover, if you plan on financing your new vessel, the interest you will be required to pay overtime should be included in the overall costs associated with boat ownership.

9. Bottom Painting

Bottom painting is another important requirement for a boat that mostly stays in the water or is used frequently. Bottom painting costs an average of $200, but if you do it yourself, it would cost you around $100. Professional bottom painters usually charge around $15-$50 per foot painted. The final price also depends on your boat’s condition. Bottom painting your boat is used to prevent the growth of barnacles, weeds, and algae. However, you do not need to bottom paint your boat every year unless it is necessary.

10. Boat Depreciation

With the different types and models of the boat, each tends to have its value, with some having more value than others. That said, if you plan on selling your boat to get a new one, you should be prepared to account for depreciation, which usually reduces the final selling price of your boat. To help reduce your boat’s depreciation expenses, you can consider talking to an experienced boat broker who will advise you on a particular boat model’s potential resale price if depreciation is a significant concern.

How Much Is a Boat Going to Cost?

According to Lifeofsailing, the average amount you will pay for a new boat largely depends on the model of your boat. Here, we will focus on the most commonly-owned luxury boats, such as the outboard motorboat, pontoon, and inboard motorboat. Larger motor boats with inboard cabins and motors are popularly known as cruisers. These boats often cost between hundreds and thousands of dollars. The new models could be sold for even seven figures, though most common cruiser motorboats in reasonably good condition are sold for less than six. As for a brand new pontoon boat, it costs an average price of $35,000 for the 22-foot pontoon boat size. You can also find smaller pontoon boats that cost less than $20,000. A motorboat with outboard motors, well-known as powerboats or speedboats, is often sold at an average price of $20,000. Other high-performance models would cost $30,000 or even more. In addition to the final purchase price of your boat, you should also budget for the operating and maintaining expenses.

How to minimize your boat’s annual maintenance expenses

Compared to most vehicles, operating and maintaining a boat is quite expensive. The costs involved in running and maintaining a boat are often termed fixed expenses, as is the case with various registration or navigation fees, which is only applicable to boats seven meters long and with engines delivering more than 22 horsepower. Other expenses such as berthing fees and fuel costs are not fixed but kept under control. Costs such as fuel, insurance premiums, and berthing fees largely depend on how often and where you sail. It costs about $300 to professionally clean your boat. According to Hashtagboatlife, the total costs of maintaining and running a luxury vessel amount to approximately 10 % of the final price of a new boat.

Another necessary boat expense to consider is the berthing cost, which usually has a considerable variation in the number of rates charged for the same service from one area to another. To help cut down on your berthing expenses, you should consider getting an anchorage instead of a marina berth during the winter or the dry season. You can also opt for a more economical solution like dry docking or boat mooring. Additionally, the amount its costs to maintain your boat can be considerably reduced through the decision you make and the level of care and attention you give your vessel. These are all essential preventive measures that will enable you to significantly cut down the cost of operating and maintaining your boat without compromising your pleasure, enjoyment, and safety. According to Bauldinsurance, boats are relatively simple to maintain for the most part as there are very few routine boat maintenance tasks that require an increased level of technical expertise. With minimal training and spare time, it is relatively easy to learn the main boat maintenance techniques required to winterize your vessel, undertake a painting job below the waterline or carry out many minor boat repairs and checks yourself. For instance, the inboard engine motors fitted on luxury boats are mechanically basic, and learning to perform the simple boat maintenance tasks is made far more manageable. Nowadays, boat manufacturers offer boat maintenance courses to their clients, teaching them the ins and out of their engines and enabling them to familiarize themselves with the basic maintenance procedures.

Boat Servicing and Renewal

In addition to the annual boat maintenance expenses of about $2,000 per year, you will also be required to pay an additional boat servicing and renewal cost. According to Themariner, inflatable vest cylinders, flares, life rafts, cartridges, fire extinguishers, and lights usually require professional servicing as they are of critical importance to the boat’s overall functioning. Fortunately, the boat servicing and renewal costs are straightforward to plan for as it only involves standard boat maintenance over an extended period. On average, a 100-hour boat service costs about $400 per engine. You will also need to know what speed is the most efficient for your engine and offers the best compromise between engine noise, fuel consumption, and comfort. Understanding some of these basic boat maintenance techniques will work a long way in saving you from unnecessary expenses and your overall boat’s performance.

Final Thoughts

As a new boat owner, it is vital for you to fully understand the overhead costs and the annual boat maintenance, usage, and storage expenses. According to Sailsgoal, the costs associated with maintaining a boat include; fueling costs, repair and maintenance, insurance cover, storage, essential boat equipment, depreciation, and many others. That said, you should ensure that your planned budget fully caters to these expenses. You should also practice simple boat maintenance practices such as carefully rinsing sails and protecting them from harmful UV rays from the sun.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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