Buying a Boat? Take a Peek at How the Costs Add Up

July 15, 2019

Summer’s here and the timing may feel right to get a boat. It’s the dream of 1.5 million Americans who buy their own vessels each year. Before you cast off, though, let’s add a splash of reality to help decide if buying is right for you. Money isn’t the only factor to consider, of course. The feeling of the wind in your hair, a fishing pole in your hand, and friends and family on deck may be all you need to make a boat purchase more than worthwhile.

The average purchase price of a boat was $82,000 in 2017

Just be sure to do your due diligence. Read any contract thoroughly; inspect the vessel or hire a specialized surveyor to help. Like with all major decisions, it’s important to truly understand what you are getting into. You should consider the costs, buy what you can afford and intelligently think through any tradeoffs.

Real Costs

Surveyed boat owners* were asked what they spent on general expenses over the past 12 months. Here are the numbers:

  • $1,257.54 on dockage, mooring, storage and towing
  • $1,050.19 on boat loan payments
  • $1,939.13 on vessel maintenance and repairs, including parts and labor
  • $520.97 on boat insurance
  • $489.53 on purchase of new equipment or upgrades, including parts and labor
  • $166.40 on state and local taxes
  • $95.13 on state registration, trailer registration and/or USCG documentation fees
  • $92.07 on fishing-related expenses
  • $86.86 on safety-related equipment and general upkeep
  • $2,024.65 on non trip-specific expenditures like pump out fees, lodging, meals, guest storage, etc.

… which comes to a total of $7,722.47.

Remember, your own expenses may look very different than these estimates. The point is to do the math first, then launch the life you wish to live. Your advisor can help with the calculations before the maiden voyage.

Sources:;;;; mintlife blog; Allstate; *Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute, “The Mid-Atlantic Recreational Boater Survey”; National Marine Manufacturers Association, Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation & Discover Boating “2016 Recreational Boating Participation Study”; Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal;

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