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Old 07-03-2012, 07:37   #1
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Reality Check - How Much for Upkeep Per Year?

My wife and I went to the boat show">Miami Boat show this year. We had a blast. Checked out all the boats we could not afford and them a few that we might be able to, as we get to retirement in a couple of years. There are some fantastic cats out there.

I have never owned a small boat. Or an airplane. Much less an expensive catamaran. I realize that upkeep is a significant expense in ownership. However, I have gotten differing opinions on how much it costs to maintain a cat. I have had one boat broker tell me that if you do all the work yourself, (like himself), it is less than $10,000 a year. I have also been told to plan on 10-20% of the purchase price of the boat. That is a pretty big range and significant for someone that is retired and on a budget. I suspect that reality is somewhere between $10k and $50k. But if it takes $50,000 or more a year to maintain a liveaboard cat, I may need to rethink our plans.

Yearly haul out and paint, maintenance on engines and generator and general repairs as things break I can reasonably understand. Not everything gets fixed or replaced every year. I have done a couple of searches on this forum and found some information.

I would appreciate if some of you experienced owners would enlighten me on what type of budget is required to maintain a cat in the 40-45 foot range. And assume it is 5 years old or older. I would do the majority of work myself. Would be mostly in Caribbean or east coast of the US.

I am just looking for a ballpark number to use for planning a retirement budget.
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Old 07-03-2012, 07:53   #2
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

It truly can vary as much as you say, depending on the condition / year of the boat, sails, engines, etc.

If you do the majority of the work yourself, $10k - $15k per year is not unreasonable for a 40-45 foot, 5-year cat in the $300k-$400k range. This may mean putting off certain "wish list" items for a year or two. It is important, however, to have money set aside for worst-case scenarios.

Very experienced sailors will tell you that the fewer "toys" you have onboard, the fewer items you'll need to fix, and most really don't miss a lot of those toys (watermaker, generator, etc.)

The more preventive maintenance you do, and the more careful you are when you sail, the cheaper things are. I cannot tell you how much money I've "saved" because I discovered a bolt loosening up, or a missing cotter pin, or replaced a hose before it gave way. Always have an eye for what doesn't look right...is that line chafing? Do the engines sound right?

A few big ticket items are sails, engine/generator rebuild, and standing rigging. Hope this helps. The best advice I've heard is "go smaller, go cheaper, and go now!"
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:39   #3
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

The issue is what are you buying and are you buying new or pre-owned?

When I bought my first big boat down in 1981 (41 Standfast) it took straight away in today's money calculated 30.000 euro to get all backlash maintenance done. After that I had only small bills for the upkeep - about 1000,-- per annum.

When I sold the boat a few years later to start my own business I got a very hefty sum back.
Today, the value of same boat has not been diminished. For a good one you still pay the same amount as 30 years ago.

A friend imports boats sometimes hurricane victims, sometimes out of banksales.
Quite notable is often the neglect. Same with boats out of the UK.
The best upkeepers are the Germans. (sorry, a bit off track).
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Old 07-03-2012, 10:05   #4
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

You have gotten good input above as to the answer to your question depends. Another factor it depends on is the level of condition you want to maintain the boat. Just as an example, if you buy the 5 year old boat, chances are the gelcoat will be in pretty good condition. We have a 35' monohull sailboat and polishing and waxing the boat is a 2 day job for my wife and I, but we are trying to keep our 20 year old boat looking new. We too do all the work we can ourselves and there is always the next project on the list. If you don't do a little bit every week you can get behind real quick.
It also depends on what you include in upkeep costs, slip fees and insurance can easily run $1K a month on the size of boat you are talking.
The one thing we don't do is scrub the bottom of our boat. The diver gets $3 a food so 3x45 for your example and here in FL that is an every other month expense...
Good Luck
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Old 07-03-2012, 11:12   #5
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

Gentlemen, thanks for the responses. If projected upkeep is in the $10-15,000 range, then that is a target I can budget around. A budget of $1-2,000 per month for maintenance and another $1,000 pr month for insurance and the other fixed expenses keeps us in the game.

And I am sure that number will be far exceeded when it is time to replace sails and other expensive items. And I know catastrophes will happen. And I will need to have contingencies for that as well.

Eric, I hope to be able to be as diligent as you in upkeep. Although, I would be the one to put on a tank and clean the bottom of the boat. A newbie question - Does routine cleaning of the boat increase or decrease time between bottom paintings?
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Old 07-03-2012, 14:30   #6
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

When I brought Boracay I figured on an ongoing cost of 25% of the good condition value as a rule of thumb.

While I can now see exceptions to this it sure does help to understand where the money is going and how much I need to spend to keep the boat.

Just so you can explain to the salespersons, the number one ignored cost in boat ownership is loss of opportunity. That is, the purchase price could have been invested, and that investment would pay dividends. I originally allowed 12%, these days I'd make it 8%.

The second major expense is depreciation. Yes, well maintained older boats have low depreciation, but new boats going into charter have high depreciation. Look at the advertised sale price of boats coming out of charter if you have any questions. Don't forget that things like a repower (every 25 years?), rerigging (every 6 to 12 years), replacing sails, repainting and upgrading electronic are included here. I originally set this at 6% but in these difficult times with incomes going down and prices going up I'd set this at 8%.

The third major expense is upkeep. Here we include thing like slipping, antifouling, insurance, marina and mooring costs, surveys and the like. These are not as directly related to purchase cost. For a large cruising yacht I'd expect that these would equate to $10 - $20, 000pa. Say 9% for an average sort of cruising boat.

Notice that I haven't put any figure in for repairs. This is included in depreciation and upkeep. The amount to be saved on a boat in good condition is not large enough to have a significant impact.

When those with newer boats talk about repairs they really mean cleaning and polishing with a bit of varnish work. The down side of owning a nice boat.

There is a thread on this Forum on cruising on $500 a month. It makes very good reading. Note the number of catamarans referred to and just how small the boat needed is.

Big boats are very expensive, and a 45' cat is a very big boat.
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Old 07-03-2012, 14:39   #7
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jacket_fan View Post
Does routine cleaning of the boat increase or decrease time between bottom paintings?
Generally it increases the time, but it also depends on how much antifoul was applied. When you scrub the bottom you knock off a fair bit of paint. If there wasn't much to start with, you'll son srub it off.

However if you don't scrub, you'll get barnacles.

Good thing about shallow draught though, you don't need a dive tank to scrub the bottom. I just walk round the boat with a scrubbing brush.
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Old 07-03-2012, 14:40   #8
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

Our boat is 52+' (not counting dingy platform and bowsprit). It is 30 years old and in true Bristol condition. We keep it that way. All systems are top of the line, and we live by the credo "buy the best and regret it one time, buy the bargain and regret it again and again and again." This is good advice. We DO NOT spend $10,000 a year, more like $5000, and this boat has just about everything. It's not about how many bells and whistles, its about the initial quality of the bells and whistles. Try to avoid the NEW idea stuff until it is at least 5 years out here. Stick with the tried and true, because it really does work, doesn't promise to work.
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Old 07-03-2012, 14:43   #9
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
When I brought Boracay I figured on an ongoing cost of 25% of the good condition value as a rule of thumb.
A $400 k boat will cost $100k per year in upkeep?
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Old 07-03-2012, 15:11   #10
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

I thought I used a figure of $10 - $20,000 p.a. for upkeep.

It's a suggested rule of thumb. I didn't say it worked perfectly in every situation. Outliers (very cheap and very expensive boats) may not fit as well as those in the middle but what I am suggesting is that 25% is a good working figure to keep in mind when figuring out the cost of owning a boat.

Maybe it does not apply to catamarans at all...

Boat owners can sometimes overvalue their boats as the reality of just how much a boat costs is ignored. I'd suggest reading Bad Market - Good Negotiation Strategies ? if intending to buy.

In that thread it looks like the intending buyers are the sensible ones.
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Old 07-03-2012, 15:23   #11
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

The question is probably similar to "How long is a piece of string?".

You could spend every cent you ever had, alternately you might spend next to nothing.

While not really upkeep, the cost of depreciation and "lost opportunity" are real enough, and probably not given as much thought as they might be.
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Old 07-03-2012, 15:28   #12
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
When I brought Boracay I figured on an ongoing cost of 25% of the good condition value as a rule of thumb.


Just so you can explain to the salespersons, the number one ignored cost in boat ownership is loss of opportunity. That is, the purchase price could have been invested, and that investment would pay dividends. I originally allowed 12%, these days I'd make it 8%.
I would argue in the current market having your cash tied up in a boat may be saving you money vs investments! Fund managers i know are claiming outperforming their index by only losing 6% last year was a result!

just saying
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Old 07-03-2012, 15:43   #13
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

Boracay-if I read your post correctly you are including opportunity cost (lost earnings on purchase price) and depreciation in your 25% calculation. Those two items are generally going to make up the clost to half of your 25% figure. The opportunity cost assumes the purchase $ wuld have been invested rather than spent on other items if there was no boat purchase. The depreciation is a non-cash expense, at least until such time as the boat is sold and it is recognize as a decrease in the ultimate sales price. I think most are more interested in the actual annual cash expense in owning a boat. I have generally used the 10-15% of purchase price as a guide to the Total Cost of Ownership (the infamous TCO of the computer world!) of a new or fairly new boat. That encompasses the total cash, out-of-pocket cost of owning and operating the boat for a year. The % cost, not necessarily the $$ cost will generally be greater for an older boat. Not because the actual $$ costs are nore, but because the purchase price is less. For example it costs just as much to dock a 45' new boat as a 45' old boat, but the % of purchase price is smaller on the new boat. The same will hold true for many costs, they are the same or similar cost no matter the age of the boat.

I find it easier to try and determine the most common recurring repairs/recurring maintenance and to cost each out on its own. In my case, my annual costs, including dockage, fuel and insurance, runs about 6% of my purchase price which tells me nothing, but budgeting them each year by cost lets me plan for the actual $$ cost (around $35k).
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Old 07-03-2012, 15:59   #14
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

Bumfuzzles did a complete cost of cruising during their circumnavigation. It's in the archives somewhere. They did get slammed with really expensive hull repairs which is out of the norm.
The first couple years are a good read.
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Old 07-03-2012, 16:19   #15
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Re: Reality check - How much for upkeep per year?

G'day, mate. +1 on Waterworldly's input. We've averaged under $2,500 USD (not including insurance, fuel & marinas) for the 14 years we've been out here as we try to keep our "home" maintained to a very high standard. Let me know if you can get insurance for $1,000 (assuming you're looking somewhere in the $300,000 to $500,000 USD range). All the best. Cheers
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