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Old 13-02-2019, 06:23   #16
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

As always, lots of bad parroted advice coming from the forum regarding annual costs to own a boat. But regarding the OP’s original question: No you don’t have enough money if you don’t even have a down payment saved up at this time. Your finance costs, maintenance, berthing and insurance for a catamaran at your price point will easily eat up $35,000-$40,000 per year, probably more.

I advise you to stop watching the youtube cruising videos and instead buy a small trailerable daysailer and learn to sail.

Good luck.
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Old 13-02-2019, 06:34   #17
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

In my opinion and experience owning five boats, four of them older, the comments above are right on. The biggest factors in my opinion.

1. Biggest one, how good are you at DIY? The most common ongoing boat maintenance issues will be mechanical (engine oil changes, oil and fuel filters, bleeding the fuel system, belts, etc), electrical, plumbing. Can you handle or figure out all of these? If not you will be paying the pros big money to do it.

2. Condition of the major systems. The big ticket items are:
- major engine work. Could be a few thousand for major repairs to $10-$15 if you buy a new engine.
- sails. Rough, round numbers for a +/- 40' boat about $3000 each for new main, genoa, etc.
- rigging. $3-$4,000 for new rigging for +/-40' boat.

3. Are you counting dockage, insurance and other fixed costs?

If you DIY all the routine stuff and don't have to pay out any of the expensive repairs then you can get by with much less than that 10% number that is so ofter thrown out. However I would keep a rainy day fund for just in case one of those hits.
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Old 13-02-2019, 06:40   #18
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

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Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
So the 10% figure is a rough swag.
Agreed. Some years we have spent a little over 10% on a £30k yacht, other years down nearer 3%, not including mooring, insurance and fuel etc.

Also worth mentioning that if you live on board then things will wear out much quicker. You are going to be using heating during the winter, the cooker and heads daily. Batteries also take a hammering the minute you leave the dock, even wooden floors will wear out, but no more than a carpet at home. The upside is your not paying for a house or land taxes etc.

Use a spreadsheet to add up running costs like insurance, mooring, fuel, plus what ever you currently spend on food, cloths and entertainment etc. That gives you a running cost. Add new sails every 10 years and lets say rigging every 15 years, engine every 20 years or there about. Plus lift out and hull paint, depends on location, could be annually like us, or every 2 - 3 years for some areas in the US. Plus instruments, cooker and heads etc, + fudge factor. Then divide the cost over 20 years will give you an idea of what you need to spend or put away annually.

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Old 13-02-2019, 07:21   #19
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

Another thing to consider if you plan to be up here in a marina off the Chesapeake Bay during Winter is heat. Heating a large Catamaran.

Last Winter, we had a young couple on our dock that had to move in with friends for a while due to the cold.

They couldn't keep their 45' Morgan warm enough
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Old 13-02-2019, 07:45   #20
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

If no one has said it yet, a 40 foot catamaran is not a good starter boat, even if you can afford it.


Try chartering to see if you like it first. If that seems appealing, get a small monohull, like a 22-27 Catalina, to get your feet wet. You can buy one and give it away free for less that the sales tax on that catamaran.
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Old 13-02-2019, 08:11   #21
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

Purchased a four year old Seawind catamaran in 2006, for $152k. It was a little rough having been a charter boat, and had minimal electronics. Owned it for 12 years, and spent around $80k for upgrades, repairs, replacements and maintenance. New sails, both outboard motors, electronics, canvas, shore power and air conditioner, batteries, rigging replaced twice, etc. Sold it for $177k in 2018, which probably attests to the level it was maintained and updated.

So 80/152 = 53%. Spent over 12 years, equals about 4.5% per year. Even less when you consider it sold for more than cost.

Had a Corsair 28R trimaran that purchased new in 2000 for $83k, sold in 2007 for $75k. Same level of maintenance - dry sailed, full cover, waxed frequently (gel coat was like new, and never required buffer/compound). It was a race boat, so purchased a second set of sails during ownership to stay competitive. Easily less than $20k spent during ownership. So maintenance and updates = 20/83 = 24%, or 3.5% per year.
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Old 13-02-2019, 08:34   #22
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

I have never experienced maintenance that high. But it depends on your accounting philosophy! (and if you exclude moorage!)
If you start with a new boat, or if you make the used boat 100% sound to start with. Then your maintenance costs should be very low for at least 5 years, likely up to 10 years. Sails, engine etc must be in great shape.
OTOH if you buy a bargain boat that soon needs sails and engines, then it can get expensive.
As others mentioned, do you do your own work?
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Old 13-02-2019, 08:56   #23
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

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Originally Posted by brettrae View Post
Or would it be okay to live on the boat while fixing things as we can afford them?
Major projects while living aboard are a pain, but manageable.

Owning a boat you can't afford to keep seaworthy is not a fun position to be in. I've been there, I knew when I bought it what it would take to get it seaworthy, but my wife and I weren't on the same page and the boat didn't get the percentage of our income that I would have hoped for.

If you and your wife are both realistic about it, I'm quite sure you can make it work. If not, the boat will go down hill.
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Old 13-02-2019, 08:58   #24
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

The 10% number is almost useless.

For starters, whoever came up with it was referring to 10% of the price of the boat when NEW. In the 1980's when I first sold a boat, you expected to sell your boat for what you paid for it - even if you had bought it new. Sometimes you got a little more. How times have changed! So the 10% number stayed the same.

Obviously, if you bought a new cat today for $175,000 - maybe a 30 footer - it's going to require less maintenance than the much bigger and more complicated 40+ used cat I expect you are looking at.

And the 10% number was always meant as an average over many years. Most years you would be way below 10% but then there's the year you eventually have to rebuild the engine or replace the standing rigging when it's over 10%

Another old saying about boats "If you have to ask, you can't afford it"
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Old 13-02-2019, 09:04   #25
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

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Between a house and a boat, I assume you are aware that a boat is a depreciating asset. Next year your $175k boat (which is a $192.5k boat due to a year of maintenance costs) will be worth @ $165k.
Wildly optimistic.

Realism is you **might** get half back, after a year, putting in a fair bit of effort and spending a fair bit getting / keeping her in good shape.

And really to be safe assume never getting anything back except the fun times you spend on her.

So anything you get when selling is gravy, a nice little surprise.

Boats these days are a consumer good, in no way an investment.

Yes there are exceptions, that prove the rule.
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Old 13-02-2019, 09:24   #26
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

The bigger issue facing you, as some others have mentioned, is what you will spend in the first 12 months of ownership. When you negotiate a great price on a used boat, you almost always spend a lot in the first 12 months you own her. Why:

1) The survey misses things. This ALWAYS happens. A half day or full day survey of a large cruising boat isn't designed to find everything. It's mostly for the insurance company and to get you a few things to negotiate the price down a little bit more. You could hire the surveyor for $5000 and have him spend the better part of a week and he'd find a lot more. But no one does that.

2) You won't get a discount from the current owner for everything the survey finds. Your $175,000 price already includes discounts for the age and general condition of the boat. You'll only be able to negotiate more discount for something that is not normal for a boat of the age, builder and condition. During the survey, ask the surveyor to point out things that are not a survey "fail" but will likely require attention in the next few years. Make a list and price it out so you know what you're going to face. Don't let the surveyor put this "watch" list in his written report as your insurance company will get a copy and may make you fix it all at your cost before they will insure the boat.

3) Once you take ownership, you will find improvements you want to make. Everyone does. You will find the berth mattress is too soft and gives you a backache. Or the 10 year old electronics need updating. Or you want a Mantus anchor instead of the Delta after you drag a couple of times. Of course, you don't have to spend this money - but trust me - you will want to.

The better a price you get on purchase, the more you'll likely spend in the 12 months after purchase. It's not at all unusual for "all in" first year spending on a 40+ft ten year old boat to be $50,000.

Walk around the marina and ask people what they spent in their first year. If they are honest, you'll hear some amazing stories.
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Old 13-02-2019, 09:44   #27
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

you ask a fundamental question, one that keeps a many awake at night...

as someone who is a bit of a pro at living below her means, i am always amazed how people stress themselves to the brink with choices that place them on the edge of financial disaster.

i suggest you imagine another scenario in which you BOTH first take lessons (including the kind that teach you both about the drastic changes in comfort levels you will experience onboard) and help folks out on their boats (so to give both of you an idea); and then, when you are sure that that this life appeals to BOTH of you, spend a whole lot less initially on the boat and keep a huge stash for what you may or may not be required to throw at the boat.

i suggest you seriously consider a monohull.
33' to 36' is plenty big for a couple to enjoy and live on. they are elegant and fun.

if you spend 60k on the boat (and 60k will get you a very good used 33' monohull), then you've got stashed 115k in the sock.

imagine how good it would feel to be able to choose what jobs you outsource.

imagine how your future trips in the boat could become more and more exciting and ambitious.

imagine the feeling of staring debt down in the face.


boating can be about freedom in so many ways. this is one of them.


good luck to you!
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Old 13-02-2019, 10:02   #28
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

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... because the cost of the cats we're looking at are around $175k, which is less than the house we thought about purchasing before this crazy idea. ...
Maybe I'm misinterpreting the quote above, but are you suggesting buying a cat instead of a house? If so, when worrying about the maintenance costs of the cat you should not forget you would also have maintenance costs for a house, some similar and some different. Systems wear out in houses, just like boats. In my current house, which we've owned for 8 years, we've replaced the HVAC system, the pool pump (twice), heater and filter, most of the doors and windows, etc. - all the same kinds of replacements that occur with a boat. Sure, the house does not have sails, but it has lots of other things the boat doesn't have that wear out and have to be replaced (like the front portico that was damaged by dry rot). There are also the daily/annual/periodic maintenance costs that have to be addressed - painting (interior and exterior vs bottom and possibly hull), replacing filters, waxing (floors vs boat), etc. Add in routine operating costs (energy costs; other utility costs; real estate taxes vs personal property taxes, if applicable and marina fees; etc.) for a more complete picture. Finally, think about periodic upgrades (three bathrooms remodeled, new laundry room, family room remodeled, etc.) you'll make to a house that you may, or may not, make to a boat and compare those costs. Upgrading to a freshwater electric toilet in the head is a whole lot easier and less expensive than gutting a small bathroom to the studs and starting over.

If you're worried about the costs of ownership, I think you should be thinking not about what does to cost to maintain, operate and upgrade a cat in absolute terms or as a percentage of acquisition cost, but the difference in costs of maintaining, operating and upgrading a cat versus the costs to do the same to a house. It's one thing to have a house and buy a boat like we did, but if you're really talking about one versus the other then you should not lose sight of the fact that you'll be saving the costs for the house.

Just my two cents.

Tom
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Old 13-02-2019, 10:48   #29
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

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Originally Posted by brettrae View Post
My wife and I are deeply researching buying a catamaran, docking her in a nearby marina in the Chesapeake Bay, and learning to sail and maintain her while we keep our day jobs during the week. I initially thought that we could afford this, because the cost of the cats we're looking at are around $175k, which is less than the house we thought about purchasing before this crazy idea.

However, after crunching some numbers, I'm getting a little more nervous when I add in the estimated monthly maintenance costs (10% of the cost of the boat per year). My question is this: if we were to buy a good, well-surveyed boat, can we really expect to pay an average of $17,500 on maintenance costs every year (or $1,500 a month)? Or would it be okay to live on the boat while fixing things as we can afford them? We are complete newbies, so it might be okay to learn the ins and outs of the boat slowly...we aren't trying to leave the Bay as quickly as possible.

Thanks, as always!
It is obvious that you and your wife have caught the bug; there are a number of posts on this forum like that...read them. You now need to sit down and get realistic about what you want and define the specifics: why you want it, where you sail it, what it will cost initially and also to maintain.

I am a bit anal about keeping records, more specifically financial records... I record them all. Briefly, I have owned my boat 12 years and spent three times the initial price on everything and averaged about 25% of that initial price annually. But that has included many major replacements and upgrades to make the boat truly offshore/passagemaking capable; there is still more I would like to do, there always is. If you are going to sail just local coastal your expense would be less unless you are one of those couples that must have all the latest and greatest comforts and conveniences. But remember that you will not recoup all of your expenses...boat financials are not like housing market financials.

My recommendation is to start sailing and learning about boat ownership...they are different realms but require some involvement to truly appreciate. Open an account and start putting your defined boat search money aside. Look at as many boats as you can (monohulls as well as cats) and explain to yourselves why you want what you want. Watch the YouTube videos to get some idea what it is about but remember those are the good times, they rarely show the bad times.

Good luck.

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Old 13-02-2019, 10:59   #30
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Re: Worried About Affording Maintenance Costs

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Originally Posted by Tom_F View Post
Maybe I'm misinterpreting the quote above, but are you suggesting buying a cat instead of a house? If so, when worrying about the maintenance costs of the cat you should not forget you would also have maintenance costs for a house, some similar and some different. Systems wear out in houses, just like boats. In my current house, which we've owned for 8 years, we've replaced the HVAC system, the pool pump (twice), heater and filter, most of the doors and windows, etc. - all the same kinds of replacements that occur with a boat. Sure, the house does not have sails, but it has lots of other things the boat doesn't have that wear out and have to be replaced (like the front portico that was damaged by dry rot). There are also the daily/annual/periodic maintenance costs that have to be addressed - painting (interior and exterior vs bottom and possibly hull), replacing filters, waxing (floors vs boat), etc. Add in routine operating costs (energy costs; other utility costs; real estate taxes vs personal property taxes, if applicable and marina fees; etc.) for a more complete picture. Finally, think about periodic upgrades (three bathrooms remodeled, new laundry room, family room remodeled, etc.) you'll make to a house that you may, or may not, make to a boat and compare those costs. Upgrading to a freshwater electric toilet in the head is a whole lot easier and less expensive than gutting a small bathroom to the studs and starting over.

Tom
What he said. I have always figured the cost of home ownership at about 15,000 a year (whether you spend it any given year or not) for roofs, boilers, kitchens, baths, paint, etc., not even considering taxes, utilities, insurance or other operating expenses. Best with a boat or house to buy something someone else just finished fixing and then sell in about ten years before the cycle starts again.
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