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Old 29-11-2020, 20:08   #1
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Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

Hello all!

My husband and I are working on an 8-year plan to purchase and long-term liveaboard a bluewater sailboat while traveling the world. We are trying to plan a realistic budget/financial plan for our boat/life (are still debating monohull vs cat), and the current debate is the 10% maintenance cost rule. I've heard from multiple sources that if you are doing the majority of maintenance yourself you should expect to spend 10% of the total cost of your boat annually on repairs/upkeep.

Obviously some years will (hopefully) be much less than this and some years will be more, but generally- have liveaboard cruisers found this general rule to be true?

Next, how does this rule hold up when comparing similar boats of similar sizes? For example, a 1980s Hallberg-Rassy 45 vs an early-00s boat of the same make (it would make sense that the 80s boat would be more expensive to maintain than a newer model, but the purchase price of the boat would be less).

Any advice much appreciated!
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Old 29-11-2020, 20:41   #2
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

10% of what?


I paid $5000 for my boat and I can assure you that I spend more than $500 a year on maintenance despite doing nearly all my own work.


There are $300,000 boats that are five years old. Typical maintenance costs for them, are lower than a $30,000 a year.


Most of the maintenance expense has little to do with the make or model of the boat because all (well, most) boats have engines, sails, rigs, bottom paint, batteries, electronics, portlights, refrigeration, etc.


Unusual maintenance expenses that can drive up the averages would include things like replacing tanks that cannot be accessed without removing the interior, replacing chainplates that cannot be accessed without cutting into the hull, failure of the deck-to-hull joint, blistering or delamination of the hull, other structural failures, or correction of design mistakes. Some makes, models, and years of boats are more prone to these problems.
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Old 29-11-2020, 20:48   #3
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

My boat cost $10,000 but was in bad shape when I bought her. I have spent well over 10% so far, but hope the costs will be much less in the future. The real trick is being realistic. As mentioned above, you will not spend 10% of $300K on any boat, hopefully.
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Old 29-11-2020, 21:34   #4
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

That 10%, nah

Just look at the boat, see the condition of things and the wear rate, go from there.

A Bristol condition simple and strong design boat, sailed by a experienced crew, just going around a fresh water lake, doubt you’ll spend much.

A broker saw you coming deal, complex and light weight systems cat, new crew, offshore, it might get spendy
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Old 29-11-2020, 21:52   #5
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

That may be about right, conservatively figuring. Of course it will depend on many things, but that is probably a good ball park place to start.
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Old 30-11-2020, 01:00   #6
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

As mentioned, too many variables to use a flat 10% rule. One thing for certain is to note the condition of the boat's sails and canvas and determine if these require replacing in the near term. A good survey will indicate other items that are close to their life expectancy. With this info, you can build a budget that goes beyond oil changes and bottom paint. You'll know what to put away monthly to build a kitty. Our moorage is just under $500/mo. We add $1k per month to the 'boat account' that covers this plus insurance. I buy a lot of small-dollar things that aren't drawn from this account, but repair bills are paid from this and any major parts. We're building a good account balance that has paid for some electronics and electric upgrades, etc. to date. Our next big expense will be a haul out to change the sail drive diaphragm. Quite costly, but we've set enough aside over the past 4 years to handle it. I hope this gives some guidance.
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Old 30-11-2020, 01:20   #7
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

Based on 30 years of yacht ownership I would agree that on average 10% of the value of the boat per year on maintenance, berthage, insurance, etc is about right if you do a lot of the work yourself. A professional skipper of big yachts 80ft+ says for those boats 20% is about right.
If you buy a “project” boat, then a lot of $ gets spent in the first few years getting it up to scratch. Unless you have a lot of skills and time, I would not recommend that route. I’ve owned only monohulls, fibreglass and steel in the 30 to 40ft range. I believe multihulls are more expensive to maintain, certianly berthage is more expensive.
Even boats that are a few years old need upgrades. A lot of production boats have sub-standard gear and structural problems. Do NOT get any boat with teak decks!
I cruised for 17 years in the Pacific on 3 of my own yachts. I estimate I spent on average US$15,000 a year for the boat plus living expenses for 2. That was doing pretty much ALL the work on the boat (except for odd sail repair and machine shop work), various gear upgrades and replacements. I didn’t waste $ on booze or trips back to the USA, and I only stayed in marinas in NZ and a bit in OZ.
Good luck!
The photo is my 40ft steel “Joshua” ketch.
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Old 30-11-2020, 03:07   #8
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

Long distance sailing everything will break more once except electrical such as radar, VHF, SSB etc, as we found. Water pumps break the most because they are used the most. We carried two spares everything, exploded diagrams and a whole range of tools including open and ring spanners.


What I did was lay the parts in a line so I would know how to put them back together. I usually had to service or repair something once a week. The longest I went without doing that was a month in a Venezuelan out island, when we arrived in Bonaire three things broke on the day we arrived.
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Old 30-11-2020, 04:20   #9
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

Only you can decide what the upkeep is going to cost, and it's all about your choices. Will you be running a genset to power your A/C, fridge, and icemaker? Will you have electric winches, electric toilets, microwave and blender? In-boom furling, hydraulic steering, chartplotters, radars, depth sounders, stereo? How much varnish will you keep up? All these variables add up to an unpredictable mix.
I have very few of these sort of costs because I cruise without--my system maintenance is limited to polishing oil lamp chimneys and trimming wicks. Even with the exhorbitant price of new lamp chimneys--don't get me started on that--my everyday operating costs are small. I keep $60 worth of outboard engine spares around; I replace a sheet or halyard whenever I find a good deal on rope (some of my sheets are the first set I put on 11 years ago), I just got my first new suit of sails in a decade.
All told, I spend less than 3% of the boat's value per year for upkeep and upgrades, and I do upgrade and maintain all the time. But if I had all sorts of expensive breakable power-hungry luxuries, I can't imagine what I'd spend.
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Old 30-11-2020, 04:44   #10
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

Sailorboy1 does a monthly costs thread which you might use as a resource. I believe he and his wife liveaboard a good old boat - a 40' Hunter. Here's the link to his latest thread re costs:

Month 50 Expenses of Cruising and Living on the Boat
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...at-242483.html

Good luck with your budgeting!
Warmly,
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Old 30-11-2020, 04:56   #11
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

Depends on your abilities !
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Old 30-11-2020, 05:06   #12
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

There are a lot of variables that can sway this but yes I agree you should budget 10% and if that seems like it’s too much you should buy a cheaper boat. The worst thing for boats (or anything for that matter) is delaying maintenance because of the expense. Small problems turn into big ones at the most in opportune times, trust me because I’ve done it (more than once!).

It’s hard to imagine that you are buying a $500k sailboat that you’ll drop another $500k into over a decade and if you do everything right it might be worth $300k (mostly because of inflation), but that’s the cost of the joy that is boat ownership! The 10% doesn’t even include depreciation lol.
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Old 30-11-2020, 06:25   #13
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderlust87 View Post
Hello all!

My husband and I are working on an 8-year plan to purchase and long-term liveaboard a bluewater sailboat while traveling the world. We are trying to plan a realistic budget/financial plan for our boat/life (are still debating monohull vs cat), and the current debate is the 10% maintenance cost rule. I've heard from multiple sources that if you are doing the majority of maintenance yourself you should expect to spend 10% of the total cost of your boat annually on repairs/upkeep.

Obviously some years will (hopefully) be much less than this and some years will be more, but generally- have liveaboard cruisers found this general rule to be true?

Next, how does this rule hold up when comparing similar boats of similar sizes? For example, a 1980s Hallberg-Rassy 45 vs an early-00s boat of the same make (it would make sense that the 80s boat would be more expensive to maintain than a newer model, but the purchase price of the boat would be less).

Any advice much appreciated!
It is complete friction. Boats of similar size cost about the same regardless of cost. And high end boats cost pretty much the same as lower cost boats.
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Old 30-11-2020, 07:28   #14
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

I would say, that if you learn to do most of the work and maintenance yourself, it will be less than 10 per cent most years, and if you write checks for someone else to do the work, it will be more, maybe a lot more, than 10 per cent most years.

That has been our experience, anyway.

But, 10 per cent is such an arbitrary figure, I wouldn't put much stock in it.
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Old 30-11-2020, 07:35   #15
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Re: Is the 10% rule fact or fiction?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderlust87 View Post
...current debate is the 10% maintenance cost rule. I've heard from multiple sources that if you are doing the majority of maintenance yourself you should expect to spend 10% of the total cost of your boat annually on repairs/upkeep. ...have liveaboard cruisers found this general rule to be true?

Yes. No. Sometimes. Maybe.

Yes, some years.
No, most years.
Sometimes shyte happen which demands a big outlay.

So, maybe some years. Not most. Depends on too many factors to generalize. Depend on the boat, the crew, location, how you sail, where you sail.

It's the same as asking what does it cost to cruise. There is no one answer for everyone. With enough details one can answer, but not with a general rule.
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