About 95% of owners have boats 26 feet or less at an average cost of $18,000, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, and more than 80% of those buyers shelled out for used or brokerage boats. But buying it is just a start. Bentley Collins of Sabre Yachts says to budget 10% of the boat’s value annually to cover expenses. And then there are the extras.
The fantasy: About 5% of the world’s ultra-high-net-worth individuals own a yacht. A 180′ superyacht costs $4.75 million annually to maintain and run, Kitty McGowan of the U.S. Superyacht Association says. Among the costs: $400,000 for fuel, $350,000 for dockage, $240,000 for vessel insurance, $1 million for maintenance and repairs, and $1.4 million for crew salaries.
Oil and gas: If you’re relying on an engine rather than sails, fuel prices can make a big dent in your budget. As a point of reference, it costs about $400 to fill the 80-gallon tank of a 27′ Chaparral with a single engine. For a Tiara 4500 Sovran — a heavy-duty powerboat that is considered fuel-efficient — it costs about $1,750 to fill its 350-gallon tank. An oil change can run $300.
Title, registration, insurance: The amount you pay depends on your state and your boat’s size. In Oregon, the title fee for a new boat is $30. Registration is about $3 per foot. In Connecticut, registration runs about $105 for a 26-foot fiberglass boat. Like a car, you need insurance. Sabre’s Collins says figure the cost at about 1.5% of the insured value of the boat, which covers the boat but not anything silly you might do — such as crashing into a sand bar.
Maintenance: Cut costs by washing down your boat with freshwater after each use. Even then, you’ll need to repaint the bottom of the boat with anti-fouling paint every year (about $30 per foot, according to Collins). If you have a sailboat, plan on replacing the sails every three to five years. With powerboats, you’ll need to check and service the engines more frequently. Little extras add up — everything from about $300 per year for cleaners and soaps to several hundred dollars on waxing the hull and treating fabric.
Winter storage: Storage, which includes hauling the boat, dry-docking it, shrink-wrapping it and blocking it so it doesn’t move, costs about $3,000 for a 38′ boat in Connecticut and about $1,500 in Maine.
Safety: Life jackets can run about $70 each. A package with a safety gear bag, a Freon horn, a fire extinguisher, a visual distress signal kit as well as dock lines costs $170. Add to that all kinds of electronics — such as a GPS chart plotter and a radio system — items that easily tack on an extra $20,000.
Extra fun: There are plenty of extras you can bring along. At the WoodenBoat School in Maine, you can build your own lapstrake canoe — light enough to put on your shoulder or strap to your boat. A 16-foot canoe costs $1,206. If you have kids, the RedShark 10-man Towable 17′ floater will bring hours of fun attached to the back of your boat — a splurge at $1,600.
Little tug boat: At the other end of the spectrum of boat ownership: the “trawler,” a 20-something-foot tug boat. They are sailboats but without the mast. They come with a cabin, air conditioning and heating but not much deck space. They travel just about 8 knots per hour and cost about $160,000 to buy new. They are very fuel-efficient, using only about 50 to 100 gallons of fuel a year.
Source: Washington Post. Bloomberg Rankings examined the costs associated with buying and owning a boat. Costs vary and not all listed apply to everyone.
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