Harken Derm

Forgotten Costs of Boat Ownership

Published on December 16th, 2018

Luke Buxton, Service Manager at Manchester Marine (Manchester, MA), offers tips for the new boat buyer.


Following a survey, and any repairs needed to complete, a purchase price is agreed upon between buyer and seller. The buyer writes the big check and has enjoyed a summer of ownership. But for those of us up north, the time comes to haul the boat. This is where the extra expenses have been forgotten about and these expenses should be looked at as part of buying the boat.

There are several questions you need to ask yourself before buying the boat. Do you want to or are you capable of doing the work yourself? How many boat yards/yacht clubs that allow storing and performing your own work exist in your area? If you are not a member at a yacht club that allows this practice, how much is that and is there a waiting list to join/store the boat? How much is that going to cost you?

At some point, if you are storing at a yacht club/ boat yard, you will need some outside labor to perform some work. Do you want to supervise this work? How much is a full service yard going to cost? What projects do I want to have done to the boat?

The reality of the boat you bought sets in, you recognize the amount of work needed, and you consider getting a boat yard to look after. You look around at the yards in the area to figure out who would fit your style/type of boating. Do you want a slip at this marina/yard? What is their reputation/pricing and condition of the yard?

After looking around you found a yard that you like and has a good reputation. You need to look at costs of winter storage, winterizing, de-rigging, shrink-wrapping, etc. If the yard has service managers, they should be able to give you a ball park yearly budget for these items. At the yard where I’m a service manager, I do this for every new customer that wants to store with us.

Now you have your yearly budget and want to have the yard do some work on the boat such as electronics, paint, etc. Always get an estimate before you have them perform the work. A little secret to getting your estimates done quickly is to bring the boat over to the yard before hauling season and have them look at the job you want done.

Usually this is a slower time of the year for yards and they will be able to give you more attention. You should also be prepared for the ‘might as well’ jobs because you will run into them when you get into projects; usually these can add between 10-15% to the cost of the project.

I hope this helps in buying your boat as I feel this is often overlooked, especially for first-time buyers. Truth is, the boat is cheap. It’s everything else that drives up the cost of ownership.

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