Making the decision to become a boat owner is one that brings much joy to many people. The vision of hitting the water for a relaxing day with the family or a fishing trip with your buddies is a dream come true! But as with any major purchase, there are a lot of things to consider that factor into the overall cost of owning a boat, far beyond the sticker price you see on Boatline.
There are quite a few expenses that you need to consider to truly understand how much it costs to own a boat and what you can afford. You’ll have a few decisions to make to ensure that your budget can properly cover the costs you’ll be facing each year. Let’s dive in and break it down.
Like any vehicle, in order to keep your boat in tip-top shape and retain the highest value on your investment, routine maintenance is a must. You will need to consider the type of boat, how often you will use it, where you’ll be boating, and storage to help calculate your yearly maintenance expenses. While some things, such as visually inspecting the hull for damage and cleaning the exterior or checking fluid levels, can be DIY to save on costs, you’ll want to have a budget available for engine maintenance and other mechanical checks.
Even the most well-maintained boat can have mechanical issues or take on damage from time to time. These costs will, of course, vary by the situation and can take an unprepared boat owner by surprise if they haven’t budgeted for potential repairs. Be sure to check your warranty or insurance to see if some of these costs may be covered, depending on the type of repair and the cause. Though in the best of situations, your boat will run without issue for years, most boat owners do have occasional repairs to cover to keep their vessel in the water.
One of the biggest variables in the cost to own a boat is the cost of fuel. The engine type, boat size, and how you operate the vessel all factor into your fuel costs. Someone who has purchased a boat with a small outboard motor will likely spend less than the owner of a large yacht, unless that person is driving extremely often and at racing speeds. Those who keep up with their maintenance will likely spend less on fuel than someone who doesn’t take perfect care of their boat, even if they operate similarly. And as expected, the current market price of fuel will play a large factor as well in how much you’ll be paying in fuel costs.
Depending on your boating style, mooring your boat may be a cost for which you’ll need to plan. If you intend to store your boat in a marina for any part of the year, you could be looking at a pretty pricey bill. Research some locations that fit your purposes to see if they charge a flat rate for docking or if you pay by the footage of your vessel or by the size of the slip. Other things that may factor into mooring costs are whether you will stay aboard your boat or just store it in the slip, and if you need electricity or pump outs. Local or state taxes may also be included in your service fees for mooring your boat. All of these things could be included or you might find yourself with unexpected charges if you don’t do your homework.
Moving and Storage
If you are not planning to house your boat in a slip at a harbor or marina, you’ll need a budget to cover the costs of moving and storage. A boat trailer is a necessity for those who move their boat in and out of the water. For most, purchasing a boat trailer is simply part of the process when they purchase their vessel. However, some may choose to rent if they’ll only be moving their boat a couple times a year. Storing your boat at home can be a cost effective option if you have the space and can protect your boat from the elements properly. Boat storage facilities offer outdoor spaces for winterized boats and indoor, climate controlled options for those who want an extra element of protection – and don’t mind spending a bit more money for it.
Insurance and Warranties
Insurance may be one of the most important and necessary costs that boat owners incur. Shop around to find a plan that gives you the level of coverage you need. There are several factors that insurance companies use to figure out what your insurance rate will be, including the size and type of the boat, the type of engine, how old your boat is, and whether you have had any accidents or infractions against your boating license. This required cost of boat ownership is one you probably don’t want to skip on to protect your investment. The same can be said for extended warranties, especially if your boat is being financed. A warranty that will cover certain mechanical and physical issues with the boat can cut your repair costs and save you money in the long run, if you happen to run into any breakdowns or problems.
Accessories and Extras
There are lots of other little odds and ends that can vary from person to person. Of course, everyone will need plenty of lifejackets, first aid kits, and the proper safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, life rings, and life rafts. You may need to purchase an anchor, dock lines, or fenders. A GPS system and radio are also important, especially to those who plan on boating in open water. And don’t forget the fun stuff, like decorations, toys, grills, and coolers, which will make your time on the water even more enjoyable.
Conclusion: There is a lot more that goes into owning a boat than just making the initial purchase. Being a boat owner will cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars each year. Those who take the time to do their due diligence and ensure that they’re buying the right boat for their overall budget are sure to enjoy years of enjoyment on the water. And if you’re ready to take the dive and buy a boat, be sure to browse the nationwide inventory for-sale on Boatline.com.