I’m sure most sailors and boaties can relate to the experience of flicking through the Book of Dreams (aka Trade-a-Boat), seeing a renovator’s delight with a bargain price tag and thinking, ‘Hmm, maybe’. Thoughts such as, ‘Is this too good to be true?’ are quickly pushed aside. And many a boatie, myself included, finds themselves thinking, ‘Why not?’ and buying the boat.
Soon enough, the proud new boat owner discovers that the bargain price tag comes with added extras such as dripping stern glands, ill-fitting sails, corroded electronics or even dreaded osmosis bubbles on the hull. Even the savvy boat buyer who factors a bit of new paint into the purchase price quickly becomes disenchanted at the cash rapidly draining from their wallet and their weekends spent at the slipway rather than carving up the waterways.
So I thought it was time to take an honest, realistic look at the coast of boat ownership. Or in the words of superyacht captain and engineer Mark James, you need to think, ‘How much cash am I willing to spend every year and not cry?’ I’m not trying to ruin any boating dreams; I just don’t want to see those dreams end in tears.
Even a brand spanking new boat requires significant financial outlays to keep it sparkling. And, of course, shiny new paint comes with its share of deprecation so make sure you take a look at what similar boats are selling for on the second-hand market to give you a rough idea of a future sale price.
According to Captain Mark, a good rule of thumb to maintaining and enjoying a new boat, or one that’s been kept in great condition, is 10% of the purchase price per annum. While Mark’s advice is based on years of running superyachts, it’s solid advice for your average boat as well. It’s not rocket science to work out your own numbers, but the important thing is that you do consider ongoing costs instead of pouring every last cent into the purchase.
And for those boats that come with a bit more age and neglect, you’ll need to add on the cost of a refit before you can go back to a more modest yearly spend. A full survey will give you a good idea of what this refit cost is likely to be, and most definitely don’t forget to factor in a generous contingency.
So next time you’re flicking through the Book of Dreams, keep your ego in check: you may love that 70ft cruiser with the bargain price tag, but remember to account for what you’ll really need in order to sail off into the sunset. Cheaper isn’t always cheaper, or may come at the expense of a lot of time and stress. Maybe a 40ft beauty in perfect working order is better than a 70ft monster that will keep you at the maintenance dock, emptying your wallet.