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Old 16-01-2020, 09:58   #1
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35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

Hi everyone,


My partner and I are looking around to buy a liveaboard boat this year. We want to live on it almost immediately, but the goal is to sail around the world with it asap. We're still a bit in doubt about the size we want, though. The general 'rule' everyone keeps repeating comes down to 'go small, go cheap, go fast'. I get that the bigger the boat, the more costs you will have on maintenance, mooring, insurance ed. I also found some loose statements like '40ft is the magic boundry' and 'maintenance is 10% of the purchase price'.


But the one thing I've been searching for but are unable to find is, how much more expensive is a 42 footer actually compared to a 35 footer? Are we talking about a few bucks per month, or does it add a few thousand per year? I get I won't find any hard numbers, but are there people who have owned a boat around 35ft and around 42ft who would like to share their experience?


Thanks in advance!
Eva
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Old 16-01-2020, 11:00   #2
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

The problem with trying to answer questions like this is that at best you will get an estimated, average difference. But in practice you will never own an average expense boat. You own the boat you have.
For example, 35ft boat that now needs an engine rebuild or new engine will be a lot more out of pocket than a 42ft that needs it's oil and filter changed.
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Old 16-01-2020, 11:05   #3
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

Good question and asked often in various forms, probably because the answer isn't all that simple and straightforward.

First the 10% rule. In my opinion that is generally a more or less reasonable rule of thumb but like any generality will be extremely incorrect at times. In this case both over and under estimating costs.

The correct answer is, "it depends". Certainly many things are more expensive in a larger boat. All the winches, blocks, sails, anchors, lines, fenders, etc, etc, etc have to be larger and thus cost more. But on the other hand, how often do you buy new winches, anchors, sails, etc.? Some of these you will probably never replace. Others like sails could be every 4-5-10 years depending on how you sail and how much you sail. Then some stuff will be the same no matter what size boat. A VHF radio is the same for 30' or 40'.

Other costs that are ongoing and recurring will be based on size. Docking, hauling, painting and even some fees will be by the foot or more for larger boats. A marina in an upscale area might charge $3/foot/night for docking so $90/night for a 30' vs $120 for a 40.

The other big "depends" on maintenance costs come down to:

- Will you DIY or pay a boat yard? BIG difference.
- What is the condition of the boat and all the gear at the starting point? Newish sails, good engine, newish electronics, etc then you may be good for years.
- How lucky or unlucky will you be? Engine might last the life of the boat or you might get unlucky and it dies. That could be $10-$30 thousand.

The last brings up another issue. How do you want to figure in the rare or occasional big expenses? All new sails for a 40' could cost $5-10 thousand but only happens every several years? A new engine will probably never happen but you should be ready for it.

My experience, if you start off with a boat in very good condition with all the expensive bits and pieces in very good condition AND you don't spend a lot of time in expensive marinas then the costs will be very similar for at least a few years. However you do need to have a rainy day fund for the what ifs and that will need to be bigger for a bigger boat.
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Old 16-01-2020, 11:16   #4
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Good question and asked often in various forms, probably because the answer isn't all that simple and straightforward.

First the 10% rule. In my opinion that is generally a more or less reasonable rule of thumb but like any generality will be extremely incorrect at times. In this case both over and under estimating costs.

The correct answer is, "it depends". Certainly many things are more expensive in a larger boat. All the winches, blocks, sails, anchors, lines, fenders, etc, etc, etc have to be larger and thus cost more. But on the other hand, how often do you buy new winches, anchors, sails, etc.? Some of these you will probably never replace. Others like sails could be every 4-5-10 years depending on how you sail and how much you sail. Then some stuff will be the same no matter what size boat. A VHF radio is the same for 30' or 40'.

Other costs that are ongoing and recurring will be based on size. Docking, hauling, painting and even some fees will be by the foot or more for larger boats. A marina in an upscale area might charge $3/foot/night for docking so $90/night for a 30' vs $120 for a 40.

The other big "depends" on maintenance costs come down to:

- Will you DIY or pay a boat yard? BIG difference.
- What is the condition of the boat and all the gear at the starting point? Newish sails, good engine, newish electronics, etc then you may be good for years.
- How lucky or unlucky will you be? Engine might last the life of the boat or you might get unlucky and it dies. That could be $10-$30 thousand.

The last brings up another issue. How do you want to figure in the rare or occasional big expenses? All new sails for a 40' could cost $5-10 thousand but only happens every several years? A new engine will probably never happen but you should be ready for it.

My experience, if you start off with a boat in very good condition with all the expensive bits and pieces in very good condition AND you don't spend a lot of time in expensive marinas then the costs will be very similar for at least a few years. However you do need to have a rainy day fund for the what ifs and that will need to be bigger for a bigger boat.
Go big

40ft is about the smallest

Dingy, outboard, sails, life raft ,anchors, awnings, jerry jugs, tools , spares, ...the list of cruising equipment that you must carry is long

On a small boat you will end up sleeping with your outboard motor while using a jerry jug as a pillow
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Old 16-01-2020, 11:21   #5
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

Quote:
Originally Posted by eefj33 View Post
Hi everyone,


My partner and I are looking around to buy a liveaboard boat this year. We want to live on it almost immediately, but the goal is to sail around the world with it asap. We're still a bit in doubt about the size we want, though. The general 'rule' everyone keeps repeating comes down to 'go small, go cheap, go fast'. I get that the bigger the boat, the more costs you will have on maintenance, mooring, insurance ed. I also found some loose statements like '40ft is the magic boundry' and 'maintenance is 10% of the purchase price'.


But the one thing I've been searching for but are unable to find is, how much more expensive is a 42 footer actually compared to a 35 footer? Are we talking about a few bucks per month, or does it add a few thousand per year? I get I won't find any hard numbers, but are there people who have owned a boat around 35ft and around 42ft who would like to share their experience?


Thanks in advance!
Eva
Every single thing you pay for by the foot costs more. A slip for the night, scuba diver to clean the bottom, having the bottom painted, having the topsides painted, dock lines, running rigging, and maybe your slip at a marina depending on how they charge. My 35 foot boat barely fits in my slip, if I went to 42 the next size slip up costs more.
Things that go by the square yard cost more too. Sails will cost more and so will sail covers and awnings and so on.
Things that cost by the pound cost more, like an anchor and chain.
If you need a new engine, the 42 foot boat probably has a bigger engine that costs more.

All that said, a great 42 foot boat will be a LOT cheaper to run than a 35 foot disaster. 35 and 42 are close enough that condition will be a much bigger factor than size for maintenance/repair items.
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Old 16-01-2020, 11:52   #6
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

This...

"condition will be a much bigger factor than size for maintenance/repair items."

but all thing being equal (which they never are) feet = $

Understanding the cost of all the systems and using that when looking at boats for sale is the only way to find the "best boat"

For instance, you'll probably need air conditioning if you are working and not travelling for a few years. Rough numbers here, that's a $10k job if it isn't already there. Windvane? 10k installed, New electronics w autopilot radar and ais? 10k. Generator? $10k New canvas? Full enclosure? $10k. Watermaker 10k installed. New standing and running rigging $10k, solar/wind installed, $10k, dinghy, motor and davits? 10k, liferaft in hard case installed on deck $10k, new sails? you guessed it - $10k!

Spot a trend? :-)

Decide what your boat needs, price out what your boat needs are in terms of equipment $ then decide how much you can pay for a boat that had none of the things you need in it. Then look at more expensive versions of the same boat and do some math. The most expensive for sale is often the best deal. Go check out a popular cruising model like a Tayana 37 on yachtworld and look at the various prices in this light.

Good luck.
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Old 16-01-2020, 12:00   #7
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

DIY is one of the biggest things when upscaling on a boat. For example, the message above suggests 10k for canvas. The difference between canvas on a 35 and 42' boat can be relatively large, unless you're doing it yourself. In which case you just need very slightly more material and a little more time. My neighbour had all new canvas done on his 40', costing him NZ$14k. I nearly fell over. He assumed my canvas had cost twice the price, but in fact it cost me NZ$2k for an industrial sewing machine and the material. It took me longer perhaps, but sewing the extra length of seam on a bigger bimini is not the part that takes most of the time.

Unless you had an extraordinary amount of data I doubt you could spot the difference between the costs of a 35 and 42 footer, buried in the noise of the difference in condition of the boats. I'd guess sails would be the most obviously different cost. They might well have the same engine, or at least an insignificantly different one.

On the other hand, if you added the list of components above to a 35 footer there wouldn't be much boat left to live in.

It's a personal choice thing I guess. If there are just one or two of you, and you're happy camping, and you don't need much stuff or spare gear, then 35' might be enough for you. 42' is very significantly bigger in terms of comfort and space.
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Old 16-01-2020, 12:02   #8
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

Another thing - don't pay twice. If the engine *sort of* runs and the radar *sort of works* and the sails *haven't actually fallen apart quite yet* and the SSB * works if you can see the other boat but not much farther* and the dinghy *only has slow leaks* you'll be paying for all that and paying to replace it all too.


Upgrades return about 10 to 25 cents on the dollar, so it really pays to get the best boat you can afford instead of one that is just about to need 100 things fixed.
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Old 16-01-2020, 12:13   #9
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

I went from a 36ft Cabot to a 41' Morgan OI, living aboard both. An example is that my monthly dock fee went up $100 per month in Jacksonville FL.




I do my own work (found out I can mess things up to the same degree as a contractor at 1/2 the cost, and figure out the right way by the time I'm done) so mostly it's a slight jump up in material costs.



I balance this against the night and day feel of the two different sizes. I also plan to sail away but want to take toys with me (scuba gear, paddle board etc). In the Cabot I was stuffed with only some of my stuff and figured I'd look like something out of the Grapes Of Wrath by the time I loaded the boat down. That extra 5' length and 3' of beam make a huge difference, worth more than the slight bump in costs.



To get your boat ready the current condition of the boat will have more to do your costs. Once it's "ready" then my opinion is that the extra size is well worth any extra upkeep costs.
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Old 16-01-2020, 13:09   #10
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

"Upgrades return about 10 to 25 cents on the dollar, so it really pays to get the best boat you can afford instead of one that is just about to need 100 things fixed."

Amen!
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Old 16-01-2020, 15:39   #11
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

Yes, and in my mind I prefer to get a boat without too much equipment and then fit it myself. I was looking at a similar boat to this but absolutely laden with every extra you could imagine. I realised that in five years time I'd have a boat with lots of systems that weren't exactly what I'd have chosen, not installed by me so slightly mysterious, and all gradually failing and needing replacement.

I chose to spend less on a more lightly equipped boat in better condition, and add just those extras that I wanted myself.
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Old 17-01-2020, 10:12   #12
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

Another factor to consider is that a larger boat has more storage, and can stay off the grid, and away from marinas for longer periods. Supplies can be bought in bulk, at better prices, and then stored on board - whereas a smaller boat would be more at the mercy of the local economy for provisions. A larger boat will probably cover more miles in a day too. All that being said - almost everything requiring 3rd party help is probably going to be more expensive on a larger boat. The difference in costs probably balance out to some degree, so it's a tough call IMO. If the budget is relatively modest, going small is probably the only, and the best option - due to unexpected costs increasing proportionately by the foot, IMO. The bigger the boat, the bigger the financial exposure and risk.
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Old 17-01-2020, 11:00   #13
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

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Originally Posted by Tillsbury View Post
DIY is one of the biggest things when upscaling on a boat. For example, the message above suggests 10k for canvas. The difference between canvas on a 35 and 42' boat can be relatively large, unless you're doing it yourself. In which case you just need very slightly more material and a little more time. My neighbour had all new canvas done on his 40', costing him NZ$14k. I nearly fell over. He assumed my canvas had cost twice the price, but in fact it cost me NZ$2k for an industrial sewing machine and the material. It took me longer perhaps, but sewing the extra length of seam on a bigger bimini is not the part that takes most of the time.

Unless you had an extraordinary amount of data I doubt you could spot the difference between the costs of a 35 and 42 footer, buried in the noise of the difference in condition of the boats. I'd guess sails would be the most obviously different cost. They might well have the same engine, or at least an insignificantly different one.


On the other hand, if you added the list of components above to a 35 footer there wouldn't be much boat left to live in.

It's a personal choice thing I guess. If there are just one or two of you, and you're happy camping, and you don't need much stuff or spare gear, then 35' might be enough for you. 42' is very significantly bigger in terms of comfort and space.
These figures are way off the mark there are plenty of second hand stuff out there and certainly it does not cost those prices in Europe , thank god Im not sailing in NZ lol
I got a second hand radar unit for 60 pounds and my canvas 1500 all my electronics on Ebay , DIY most of everything on the boat .
if your on a budget there isno need for new shiny electronics and the latest air con unit .
Water maker can be built for 1400 pounds by yourself , and there are plenty of air con units 10000 btu for 2700 pounds

My boat is 42 foot
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Old 17-01-2020, 11:01   #14
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

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Originally Posted by OneHullPaul View Post
This...

"condition will be a much bigger factor than size for maintenance/repair items."

but all thing being equal (which they never are) feet = $

Understanding the cost of all the systems and using that when looking at boats for sale is the only way to find the "best boat"

For instance, you'll probably need air conditioning if you are working and not travelling for a few years. Rough numbers here, that's a $10k job if it isn't already there. Windvane? 10k installed, New electronics w autopilot radar and ais? 10k. Generator? $10k New canvas? Full enclosure? $10k. Watermaker 10k installed. New standing and running rigging $10k, solar/wind installed, $10k, dinghy, motor and davits? 10k, liferaft in hard case installed on deck $10k, new sails? you guessed it - $10k!

Spot a trend? :-)

Decide what your boat needs, price out what your boat needs are in terms of equipment $ then decide how much you can pay for a boat that had none of the things you need in it. Then look at more expensive versions of the same boat and do some math. The most expensive for sale is often the best deal. Go check out a popular cruising model like a Tayana 37 on yachtworld and look at the various prices in this light.

Good luck.
Nonsense figures see my above post.
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Old 17-01-2020, 11:32   #15
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Re: 35ft vs 42ft: maintenance costs

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Go big

40ft is about the smallest

Dingy, outboard, sails, life raft ,anchors, awnings, jerry jugs, tools , spares, ...the list of cruising equipment that you must carry is long

On a small boat you will end up sleeping with your outboard motor while using a jerry jug as a pillow
Yep, if you're planning on sailing around the world then you should get a boat big enough to accommodate some crew. I realize that the idea of a couple sailing alone may be romantic but those two hour on - two hour off shifts are going to suck the romance out of it pretty quick as you'll both be exhausted sooner than later. As others have stated, the maintenance costs are going to depend a lot more on the condition of the boat you buy rather than the length - at least initially. Beware the cheap boat that needs everything. Pay a little more for one that will suit your long term purpose and be basically in good repair. You'll probably want to add something to any boat you buy or at least replace something (as long as it's not the hull or decks)
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