The Cost of Owning a Boat

BradYoung04 By BradYoung04, 30th Mar 2016 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Other

A look at some of he expenses associated with boat ownership including operational expenses and maintenance costs


I’ve always had a fascination with sailing; my favorite film as a kid was Jason and the Argonauts, and I myself dreamed of stowing away to a strange land on a ship. Fast forward a few decades and I’m a proud boat owner with a fair-few sea miles under my belt. When I’m not managing my business endeavors, I enjoy dedicating much of my time to boating, as well as the upkeep and maintenance of my boat the Antigua Fountain.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about looking after my boat properly, it’s that the initial cost is nothing compared to the ongoing cost of keeping a boat fully operational. If you’re serious about owning a boat, it’s important to be aware of what crucial maintenance will be required, as well as understand the various costs of keeping your boat sea-worthy.


The cost of boat insurance can vary greatly based on the type, size and integrity of your vessel. Insurance rates usually average at around 2% of the value of your boat, but this can still be higher in areas prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes. You may also be subject to taxes, but these can vary state-to-state from nothing at all in New York, to 10% of the boat’s value per-annum in North and South Carolina.

For the best insurance service, choose a provider that specializes in boating. This’ll ensure your insurer is knowledgeable of your requirements, and can provide a specialized service suited to the needs of your ship. Consult an agent for an exact quote, or compare online using an aggregator. If your boat is small enough it can be insured on some home policies, however this varies from insurer to insure, so it’s always wise to check first.


Annual maintenance drives up boat costs by roughly 10% of its value each year. This can be as simple as a freshwater wash-down after a sailing session; good upkeep, such as a clean, wax, and polish will prevent environmental wear and tear, as well as ensure further maintenance costs are kept at bay. Inevitably, routine upkeep of important components such as the engine or trailer will be necessary. These costs will again vary based on the type of boat you own, how much you use it, and your area of mooring.

These costs will also depend on how much you’re willing to take on yourself. Some aspects of maintenance, such as cleaning, changing oils and applying regular anti-fouling paint will be simple enough after a visit to your local boat chandlers, but when it comes to more technical aspects such as scheduled engine maintenance, I always leave it to the professionals. This’ll obviously be more expensive, but for the sake of your boat’s wellbeing is always advised, as well as to avoid causing further problems.

Operational Expense

The expenses associated with operating your boat can also be high, especially when accounting for fuel costs. If you own a sailboat, you’ll largely avoid the higher end of these costs, but they should still be accounted for. It can hard to exactly ascertain how much you should be spending each year on fuel, because of the different distances you’re likely to be covering. However, fuel consumption levels never change, so work out your ship’s cruising fuel burn and multiply by an average distance per trip; although the outcome will be rough, it’ll give you much better idea of how much you should plan financially for fuel.

There’s also the costs of mooring and storage to consider. This can cost you up to an extra $1,000 per month depending on how big your boat is. Fortunately, almost all mooring contracts are based on fixed yearly rates, which makes planning these expenses much easier. Depending on your local climate, you’ll also need to invest in winter storage for your boat to ensure the individual components maintain their integrity during colder seasons.


Also depending on the size of your vessel is whether or not you’ll need to shell out for a crew as well. Many people invest in full-time staff for their boats if they don’t have the time for the majority of legwork and personal upkeep associated with a boat; naturally, this can drive costs even higher.

Even for those looking to run their ship independently, an extra crew member to help with navigation or cleaning can make running a boat much easier, whilst also keeping costs down. If you’re looking for the cheapest option, save your finances for specialist help such as engineering work, but don’t put yourself out or let your boat get into a state of disrepair for the purposes of saving money.


So there we have it. In your first year of owning a boat alone, you’re looking at operational expenditure which exceeds the $20,000 price tag of an average modern pleasure boat. Whilst many will be put off by these figures, it highlights that a passion for sailing and boating is absolutely necessary, as it is also a significant investment in your time and effort.


Boating, Boats, Sailing, Yachting, Yachts

Meet the author

author avatar BradYoung04
I am a MBA grad who can transform your business. Follow me for straight talking insights into running successful businesses in a fast paced world. I am always working or surfing in the Californian sun

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