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Old 01-05-2012, 13:57   #1
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Cost of Ownership Info Request

Ok, so I know the typical response will be, "it depends" but here goes anyway....

I am looking to purchase a boat primarily for weekend exploring so that means motoring for several hours a day while in use, (I notice a lot of people seem to just leave their boat in the slip and use it as a vac place). I currently live in northern California east of the San Francisco bay. So the Delta will be the main area of interest. But I will venture into the bay and perhaps occasionally slip out under the Golden Gate bridge.

My youngest is graduating UCLA this spring so after being out of boating for 23 years I feel it is time to get my sea legs back. I have had a couple of boats in the past but the largest being a 21' Cuddy. I have chartered a 30' single diesel and cruised the Ouse rive in the UK for a couple long weekends, navigating locks and such. But I do acknowledge, I am moving up to a whole new world with much more complexity. But that is what I want. My ultimate dream is to retire back east, sell everything and buy a Great Harbour 37 and first do the Great Loop and then go back and forth between the Abacos and the states dodging hurricane season, (plus I think is an insurance requirement). The wife is excited about everything except the sell everything part So this is considered my "starter" boat to gain knowledge and experience.

I have been looking at many different style boats and I think I have narrowed my search down to a 34 to 38' trawler style with small diesels for comfort and economy reasons. I am looking to stay in the $50K to $70K range. That seems to put me in the 1980s vintage boats.

So now for the question, "what are the on-going operating costs I can expect". I get the easy things, slip, insurance, fuel estimate based on gph and how often I will use the boat, etc., but what I am looking for are the maintenance type things that people often overlook. The info I have been getting from Brokers vary widely. So I am hoping that some of you with real experience in a similar situation can give me a ball park budget estimate so I can either say, "yes, this boating thing is doable" or " what have I been smoking". I am looking for the things that reoccur on a consistent basis but over time. So for example, I am hearing that you have to haul the boat and repaint every two to three years and while your at it, replace zincs, thru-hulls, etc. You should have the bottom cleaned by a diver every three months or so. And I assume you need to have the engines serviced once or twice a year. I am looking for these types of cost estimates and frequency. Also I am looking for things I haven't thought about that only an experienced boater can know. Any information and advice is appreciated....

Thanks, Johnny
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Old 01-05-2012, 14:32   #2
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Re: Cost of Ownership Info Request

Johnny,
We bought a sailboat of that price and vintage three years ago. We budgeted $20,000 for the first year and $10,000 per year for the latter years. We actually spent about $10,000 the first year and $5,000 the second year. This year is looking like a $10,000 year. We have not done any real big things like a new engine or new sails. We have worked on repair of rigging, air conditioner, refrigerator, various water pumps, hot water heater and instruments. We have also spent smaller amounts for lines, boat hooks, fenders, Honda generator pull cord, flags and flag halyard, etc.
Does this info help?
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Old 01-05-2012, 14:36   #3
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Re: Cost of Ownership Info Request

Well, it depends..........

Engines
Gearboxes
Stearngear
Engines
Engines

Mostly engines.

I appreciate that the above may not sound like a list of "ongoing operating costs" - but particularly on the age / size / style of the vessel concerned you will be entering the realm of "lots of boat for the buck" . The downside to that is likely that a PO along the line (or several ) has bought the boat with the budget to buy (or simply ability to borrow) but either without the cash or the knowledge or the desire to maintain her. Or all 3 . It's called deferred maintainence - cheapest way to deal with it is often to sell it to someone else .

On the boat itself that may not (or may) be an issue, but when it comes to engines can easily find yourself in the situation of always having something fairly major done, with 3 zeros in the numbers. Not simply from poor maintanence, but also from old age, lack of use / too much use - often a mix of all of those! Can easily find oneself in the situation a few years down the line where you wish you had instead spent the money on replacing the bl##dy things, or at least a downpayment on them (Google up replacement costs - don't tell the wife ).

On the other hand, you might not . Lots you can do to try and avoid the above scenario - but nothing is 100% certain.

for a simple "finger in the air" figure - say $5k pa on mechanicals. Some years could be more, some less. and if at the end of the ownership period you have paid less - consider it a result .

Of course all that seperate from a hull full of osmosis and soggy decks - probably won't sort those in the same year, not sure how many years you need to spread stuff like that over before it becomes part of the annual operating cost budget.

BTW, not being a naysayer - just go in with eyes wide open. and buy carefully......if you can find a boat with older engines you can eat your dinner off (rare but they do exist) consider that a very good sign. Bills ontop are also very nice. and an owner who knows where the engines are..........

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Old 01-05-2012, 15:01   #4
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Re: Cost of Ownership Info Request

Johnny-a rule of thumb I have found useful, and over a lot of years of ownership, to be reasonably accurate is that annual costs of ownership (not cunting operating such as fuel cost) will be approximately 10% of the purchase price of the boat. This can vary a bit with the cost of the boat, i.e. a lower cost (older) boat may be a bit higher, 12% or so, and a higher cost (newer) boat may be down around 7-8% or so. Of course, this assumes you are not facing any major refit/rehab projects up front and that the boat is in good shape to start with.
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Old 01-05-2012, 15:12   #5
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Re: Cost of Ownership Info Request

I think you are going to have to separate restoration/outfitting costs and normal maintenance costs to be realistic. I can see normal maintenance costs being bottom paint yearly and engine oil changes, belts, zincs etc. I dont see that being 10% of value. The sky's the limit of restoration and outfitting though...
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Old 01-05-2012, 15:18   #6
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Re: Cost of Ownership Info Request

JayCall is right: if you're going to maintain the boat in a good state of repair -- and do much of the work yourself -- figure 10-15% of the purchase price per year, on average.

Some years more, some years much less.

If you're simply going to let the boat deteriorate....as, unfortunately, many or most boatowners do these days....figure less. Including stiffing the dummies willing to work on your boat for you.

Bill
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Old 01-05-2012, 19:09   #7
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Re: Cost of Ownership Info Request

So what I take away from the responses so far, let's assume 12% of purchase price of $55K will be about $7K per year on average for maintenance, minor upgrades and repairs, (does not include major ticket items e.g., engine rebuilds, etc). Then I add the known monthly stuff such as dock fees ~$300, insurance ~100 and about $600 in fuel that adds another $1K per month. So total cost to own, maintain and operate the boat will be about $1,500 per month. Then I have to expect some of the big ticket items will pop up and that is on top, e.g., engine rebuild ~15K, etc. Is this a reasonable way to look at it? Gosh, that is expensive....
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Old 01-05-2012, 19:31   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyhfm
So what I take away from the responses so far, let's assume 12% of purchase price of $55K will be about $7K per year on average for maintenance, minor upgrades and repairs, (does not include major ticket items e.g., engine rebuilds, etc). Then I add the known monthly stuff such as dock fees ~$300, insurance ~100 and about $600 in fuel that adds another $1K per month. So total cost to own, maintain and operate the boat will be about $1,500 per month. Then I have to expect some of the big ticket items will pop up and that is on top, e.g., engine rebuild ~15K, etc. Is this a reasonable way to look at it? Gosh, that is expensive....
I think that is a reasonable expectation.

I have run my 26 foot sailboat for about 6 years now. It has run me $400 a month all in, including regulatory fees and mooring. Major repairs have included a new sail, traveler system, furler repair and many, many minor items. I did not plan sufficient reserves for the motor and am looking at a $4k rebuild.

I reckon a 40+ foot trawler to be in the $1500 range as a decent estimate.
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Old 20-05-2012, 08:43   #9
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Re: Cost of Ownership Info Request

I think most of the figures above are pretty close, and that's considering that the boat was in OK condition when purchased. OK condition usually translates into ".....for it's age".
This is also a thing where you dont want to manipulate the figures by thinking about spending onlt $10K for a basket case 50 footer and expecting only 10% per year in maintenance and upkeep.

From my personal experience and others I have known, the best purchase is on a boat that you can motor and sail the day you buy it and all it needs it a lot of TLC and nothing major. The major stuff kinda blind sides you out of nowhere so expect it.
For most people, if you can sail and motor it, you can enjoy it from day 1 and working on it and improving it becomes more fun by the day. If it has major issues, it becomes a bottomless pit for money and a chore to keep at it. Most 'project boats' eventually get sold as a 'project boat' to someone else until it finally makes it to the dumpster after several weeks of parting it out and taking a chain saw to it. This does not happen every time, but definitely most times.
When taking on a boat, your first thought should be in deciding what you want your favorite passtime to be....either playing on the boat or working on the boat.
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Old 18-07-2012, 21:33   #10
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Re: Cost of Ownership Info Request

Words to live by:
Boats, airplanes and woman. They don't take much money, just all you've got !
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