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Old 02-07-2009, 12:02   #1
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True Cost of Maintenance?

My wife and I are trying to figure out the true cost of maintaining a sailboat. I have spent perhaps 50 hrs learning all I can with the ultimate goal of living aboard here in the Wash DC area. I recieve roughly $30,000 tax free anually from the veterans administration and have 20,000 saved. So I reckon we should look for a 30-34 LOA? fiberglass boat, built in the 60s or 70s, in the 15k or less range.
Assuming my boat is in good shape, and I am capable of doing most labor intensive work, what would be a reasonable amount to set aside for maintainance? i've heard anywhere a couple thousand to 6 to 8 thousand dollars. Can I even afford to keep a boat?

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Old 02-07-2009, 12:32   #2
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Yes, you can afford a boat. how much it costs all depends. On this forum you will find people like myself who live on and maintain their boats on incomes in the five thousand pound range ( eight thousand dollars to Americans) and people who insist they need 10K a year just for maintenance. There is no definitive answer. I average about fifteen hundred pounds a year on maintaining Rhosyn Mor, some years more, some less. Rhosyn is a 38 foot ketch. hopefully others will not see this as too personal a question and give figures of their own.

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Old 02-07-2009, 12:34   #3
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A large part of the cost of owning a boat is wet and dry storage. Look into what marinas charge in your area. This is a cost you cannot get out of unless you own a house with a deep water slip. The cost varies from region to region and marina to marina from over $1000 to a few hundred per month. So before you buy check this out. Also check out your insurance costs. Your fixed costs will be storage and insurance. I would say that these fixed costs might be in the area of 3 to 5 thousand dollars in the Chesapeake. This is just a ballpark guess but others in your area might have a better number. After this you've got maintenance which,depending on your skills, can be mitigated by your own labour.

I have a 21 year old 36 foot boat and normally spend much less than $1000 a year on maintenance. But over the twenty one years I've had this boat my maintenance bill has averaged more than $1000 per year. I try and do everything myself but over the years new sails, new canvas and a new engine have upped the annual cost. These are major cost items so if you get a boat with good sails, good canvas and a good engine your maintenance costs over the next few years might only entail haul-outs and bottom painting. So what I'm saying is it all depends on the condition of the boat you buy but I'm trying to give you some idea.
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:36   #4
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Pretty open question, are you asking the ongoing maintenance cost after you have made the boat seaworthy ?(on a boat that old, getting that far alone will cost a bit) I would definitely buy something made in the 80's. A 30 footer is very capable, unless you plan on visitors staying aboard. You should be able to get a well found 30-32 footer in the $15-20K range if you take your time and look for bargains on the right boat. (investigate and know what boats fit the need ahead of time) The next question is where will you live? In a marina or on the hook? If you go to the bahamas and live on the hook, I dont know why you cant live on $1000 per month. You will need to haul and bottom paint about every year, figure maybe $650 for that. Figure oil and fuel filter changes make up another $350 per year so now you are up to $1000. Everything else is dependent on what you want and the original condition of the boat. (sails, engine, running rigging).... If you want to live in the eastern US in a marina, that's a whole nuther cost scenario... but then you asked about maintenance, but it's all connected...
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Old 02-07-2009, 13:40   #5
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If you want to live in a house and own a sailboat, your cost of living will definitely increase. I you choose just to live on a sailboat, then compare what it costs to live on land to the costs cited above. Also be aware of the time to keep up the house and boat. The time factor, I am a do it yourselfer, to keep up both has me hopping. I try not to think of the expense of either.
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Old 02-07-2009, 14:12   #6
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We figure .05% to 2% new replacement cost. If a new 30 footer costs $100k then figure $500 to $2,000 annually for maintenance only. If the boat is extremely beat the number is gonna be higher. Engine? Rig? Sails? Paint? Bottom? Canvas? Electronics? Should I go on?
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Old 02-07-2009, 14:28   #7
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What a terrific forum this is! I expected to wait a day or two and maybe get a guys are great! Thanks.
Lotta help but I can see I still have much homework ahead of me.
I have the coolest wife in the world...I presented her with this idea and she has given me her blessing to go for it and she is willing to come along. Or aboard as you will. Thanks, Eric
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Old 02-07-2009, 15:17   #8
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You didn't really say whether you wanted to just live aboard, or do that and sail the boat. If just living costs go down (doesn't matter if the bottom gets fouled). How handy are you?
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Old 02-07-2009, 15:25   #9
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25% of good condition value...

When I was working out how much boating would cost me I ended up with a figure of 25%pa of the value of the boat in good condition.

This was made up of 7% depreciation, 6% maintenance and 12% loss of investment earning capacity. These figures rely on the owner doing most, if not all, of the work, and do not include insurance.

Mooring/marina charges are extra as (in the case of a liveaboard) would be living expenses.

General observation would suggest that this is a good starting figure.

So say you buy a boat for $20k that would sell for $40k in good condition. You would need to consider budgeting $10k p.a. for depreciation/maintenance/investment loss.

Add $5k p.a. for mooring/marina fees and you have (on your budget) $15k for general living.

Looks fairly tight to me.
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Old 02-07-2009, 15:25   #10
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Hi Eric,

From our experience buying a 7 year old ex-charter yacht you might find every available cent gets spent on the boat for the first year or 2.

A 1970's boat will be falling apart no matter how good it looks - anything after 40 years immersion in salt water will be.

On the good side is your budget seems fine, US$30k is enough, but you won't be buying friends dinners!

When things get tight you might have to go for a cruise for sa few months and hide behind some idyllic island.

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Old 02-07-2009, 15:43   #11
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Mark - I would agee that a 30-40 year old boat that has been in a southernly climate (North America) all year round will likley be quite beat, by sun and water, if not well maintained.
However, in the North, where the boats are only in for 5-6 months a year, (and where the colder water makes blistering virtually a non-issue), the boats themselves, sails and rigging will last a lot longer. There are many 30-40+ year old boats up here, that have lots of life left in them.
Of course, if water gets in, the freezing doesn't help things either, so maintenance, as always is important.

I would not rule out a boat just because it is older, but instead, look at how well it was built, and likley more importantly, how well it has been maintained.
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Old 02-07-2009, 15:54   #12
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I purchased a 1981 Endeavour 37 in fair condition for a 28 year old boat. I estimate that I will end up spending the cost of the boat (24K) plus 5 grand on the boat to make her cruise ready. I'm almost half way there after less than a year, not including slip fees. As mentioned earlier, the first few years gets into your wallet pretty good, then you will be blessed with the miminal cost of things truly maintenance
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Old 02-07-2009, 19:33   #13
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After 2 years of ownership our boatis running $400 per month for everything. Including mooring, insurance, registration and minor repairs. In that sum are some major repairs:

New Genny
Repair the shrouds and chain plates
New traveler
Alternator replacement
New sheets

And some upgrades:

Third battery
DVD players
New cushions

We really like just tossing the money into the partnership account and when the warchest is built up we pull the trigger on a repair or upgrade. No surprises.
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Old 06-07-2009, 00:13   #14
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I am amazed when I read about people who can keep a boat going on a couple of thousand dollars a year.

I count on spending about $7,500.00 a year, and even that doesn't cover everything all the time.

First there is insurance. I am not sure what this costs in your region but up here we pay about 1% of agreed value per year, with a limited cruising radius. So on a boat that is worth $50K insurance is $500.00

Then you need to dock and store the boat and cradle. Marina or club fees in our area for a 30 foot boat average $3,500.00 all in. This includes one haulout/launch a year - which is the bare minimum.

Each year you're going to need to coat the bottom with some type of antifouling preparation. Average of $50.00 quart and a 30 foot boat uses about 2.5 quarts. Add brushes/tape/trays, etc. - $200.00

Boat soap and wax or polish for the topsides - $100.00. Epoxy and gel-coat to fix minor dings/scratches - $50.00. Spare clevis pins and rings/screws/zincs/locks $100.00. Top up the gas tank - $25.00 and propane $25.00

So far we're at $4,500.00 and nothing has been replaced or repaired.

You can safely figure that each year you are going to have to replace one thing on your boat - it might be something simple like a block, or it might be a mast. Things are costly so let's assume an average unit price of $2,500. Some years you won't buy anything major but some other years you'll buy a few things. The bigger your boat is the more the "things" cost. In over 40 years I have never had a season when I didn't have to buy something.

So we're at $7,000.00 without having gotten into any repair work. Things are going to break - let's figure one item a year (at least) and allow for that - say $250.00.

Now add the money that you spend provisioning the boat, getting there and back, and the refreshments and things you buy to entertain with.

We're well into the $7,500.00 range.

There are apparently thousands who spend less, but I really don't understand how they do it, and I have a sneaking suspicion that if they actually tracked their costs they'd find they were spending more than they thought.
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Old 06-07-2009, 00:39   #15
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Up until a few years ago I did a heap of wave sailing (sailboards) and apart from the petrol costs chasing the perfect wind/wave combination and broken cars on beach tracks there was always broken masts, shredded sails and ripped wet suits - not counting broken bones and cuts needing attention.
I now have an "older" 30 footer and it seems cheap in comparison!! I keep it on a swing mooring, haulout is very reasonable here and I do most of the work myself and enjoy it!

Love the journey!
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