Buying a boat is just the beginning of your seafaring adventures — and expenses. Certain things like fuel and maintenance will be ongoing costs, along with upgrades where you can control when and how much you invest. But unfortunately, many new boat owners are unaware of all the costs that can and will come up when you own a boat. Instead of underestimating the total cost of boat ownership, familiarize yourself with the following costs so that you can remain within your budget.
Fuel and Maintenance
The cost of fuel for your boat will vary widely depending on several factors, including the type of boat, age, and size. The bigger your boat, the more it will take to propel it. The older your boat, the less fuel efficient it is likely to be. A motor yacht will naturally require more fuel than a basic sailboat.
You’ll also have to pay for standard maintenance, like batteries, oils, lights, and other items on the boat that will need repair or replacement with time. Accounting for fuel and maintenance is more of an estimate than a precise formula, so consider leaving a comfortable cushion in this budget category and be prepared for these expenses to go up as the boat ages.
If you’re purchasing a smaller boat, you’ll also need to purchase a trailer. Without it, you won’t be able to transport your boat to the water. In some situations, the trailer is a separate purchase, but you may be able to find a deal that includes both the boat and trailer. No matter what, the trailer itself comes with additional costs, like maintenance for the tires and brakes, insurance, and storage costs (if storing on your property is not an option).
Lifejackets and Other Safety Equipment
By law, you’re required to have life jackets and other types of safety equipment on board your boat all at times while it’s in use. Beyond having the appropriate life jackets, you should also have things like:
- Fire extinguishers
- Emergency flares
- Throwable flotation devices
- Visual and sound signaling devices
- First aid kit
- Oars or paddles to address engine failure
- Radio or other device for weather updates
- Knife for cutting lines around a propeller
- Bailing device
Depending on the type of boat you have and its primary activity, you may also need other supplies. A fishing boat will need other items on board that you wouldn’t need if you were overnighting on a boat.
Just like you need car insurance, motorcycle insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and/or renter’s insurance, you also need to buy boat insurance. Chances are good that whoever handles your other insurance needs can help you acquire boat insurance, so talk to your insurance agent about the type of coverage you’ll need for your boat. “Agreed value” boat insurance may cost more up front, but you don’t have to worry about your boat’s depreciation. “Actual cash value” boat insurance may cost less up front, but your coverage will be worth less as time goes on, and you run the risk of it not covering the cost of repairs or replacement value if your boat is a total or partial loss after it has depreciated.
If you’ll be using your boat for leisure, you’ll likely want to eventually invest in on-the-water toys to enhance your experience. Fun items for your boat include:
- Towable floats and inflatables
- Dockside utility tables
- Waterproof bags
- Stereos and upgraded sound systems
- Fish finders
- GPS systems or compass
- Tide clocks
- Monocular telescopes
- Underwater boat light
A GoPro to Capture the Adventure
Though something like a GoPro is not necessarily required for a day of fun on the water, it’s a great tool for documenting your adventures. Why? Because it not only helps you get better quality photos and videos, but with a mount, it leaves you hands free.
There are various GoPro models to choose from, some are better for boating than others. All current models are waterproof, but the GoPro Max requires an additional case if you plan on going deeper than 5 meters (16 feet). All other current models are waterproof to a depth of 10 meters (33 feet).
Conclusion: Buying the boat itself is a big financial decision, so in order to plan accordingly it is important to factor on the true cost of boat ownership. Now that you’re aware of the unexpected costs of boat ownership, you can adjust your shopping parameters accordingly. It may mean purchasing a smaller or older boat to stay within your budget. Or, it may mean saving money for a bit longer so you can afford what you want, with plenty left over to take care of the extras you need. Start by setting price alerts on Boatline.com, and start seeing what is out there and fits your budget!