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Is Owning A Boat Expensive

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  • 26-07-2022
Is Owning A Boat Expensive

Have you considered: is owning a boat expensive? We look at how to calculate annual expenditure for boat ownership so you can decide if the cost of owning a marine vehicle is affordable for you.

How much does it cost to run a boat? 

Knowing how much it costs to run a boat, let alone purchase one, is fundamental for budgeting and avoiding heavy repair fees due to lack of maintenance. 

The operating costs depend on different factors, for example, what you use the boat for, the type of boat, the length of said boat, and how frequently you pay for maintenance work.


Insurance for boats is significantly cheaper than for cars. It is possible to purchase a third-party cover for an annual fee of under £100. On the other hand, a standard full insurance policy that comprehensively covers everything could cost half the price of the vessel.

Who requires a Boat Insurance Survey?


Typically, 20% of a boat's value covers its annual costs. A great way to start budgeting and financial planning is by working out this total. However, be wary of second-hand boats because their value has decreased while the annual running costs are much higher due to the boat's market value.


Depending on what services you want your marina to have, dictates how much it will cost. You must also factor in accessibility and distance from your home. 

There's no point in driving 100 miles to a fully serviced marina if there's a decent local one ten minutes away. Prices depend on facilities, but they also depend on location. Prime locations such as major towns and cities will have higher mooring fees than local, smaller marinas.

A 30-foot boat, for example, could have mooring fees of £500 a year in a town marina, while it could easily cost over £5,000 in a city harbour. Conclusively, mooring fees are typically the highest cost of boat ownership. You can always expect to pay more for a convenient location and available facilities.


Is Owning A Boat Expensive?

Maintenance depends on the boat, owner, and labourer. General maintenance work for a big boat cost more than for a smaller boat because of the additional components, structures, and surface area coverage the former has.

If you choose to do the maintenance work yourself, costs will be significantly lower because you will be saving on hiring labour.

However, you could end up doing further damage to your boat if you are not a professional.

There are necessary tasks, such as replacing anodes and applying antifouling paint, which you will need help from a boat yard. Prices depend on the boat yard's fees for labour and may cost around £200 depending on the size of your boat.

Costs for antifoul reflect the quality of paint you purchase. Higher quality paint can last longer than lower quality, while the latter would be cheaper and easier to buy and apply.

If you apply antifoul paint every couple of seasons, you can reduce the number of necessary haul-outs.

However, be aware of growths on the boat's hull that are sufficient to slow it. If you own a power boat or superyacht, you could be spending money on more fuel that outweighs any savings from haul-outs and re-antifouling. Haul-outs tend to be cheaper in the summer when many boat yards are quieter and offer reduced prices.

For example, a 36-foot may cost as little as £200 to book a haul-out, perfect for those with a budgeting plan. Carrying out regular and diligent routines should include engine checks, sail examinations, and rigging inspections.

If you stumble upon the first signs of damage or an impending problem, perform prompt repairs before significant damage causes you to break the bank. Prevention maintenance and early repairs are cheaper than emergency repairs.

How to Calculate Annual Expenditure

If you're purchasing, or even thinking about purchasing, a boat, the expenses must not dampen your fun. You should be able to enjoy and appreciate having a boat without the worry about prices and calculations.

As previously discussed, annual expenditures are usually up to 20% of your boat's value. Costs vary depending on the following factors: the type of boat you have, where you live, how you plan to spread annual costs, how you sail, and where you sail.

While this may seem like a lot, there are many ways of reducing the costs of annual expenditures. You could get a smaller or cheaper boat depending on where you buy it from, if it's second-hand, and if it features fewer add-ons. 

The following content will follow the separate segments that make up annual expenditures for owning a boat.

While having an insurance plan for your boat is not a requirement, it goes highly recommended. All motorboats and houseboat owners should own third-party insurance, as stated by the UK government. That said, policies of harbours and marinas may not necessarily require this.

How expensive or cheap your insurance will be is dictated by whether you want basic or full coverage. It would be worth going to an insurance broker and asking how much insuring your boat will end up costing. The amount of coverage will reflect how expensive your insurance will be.

Basic insurance plans for boats typically include the lesions, injuries, and deaths of third persons, financial losses, collision damage, tow damage, and judicial costs paid for the defence of the insured person(s).

Comprehensive insurance coverage includes the above basic coverage, damage caused by owners, damage to occupants, assistance with navigation and travel, and third-party legal defence and damage claims. 

If you have quite a large boat, there is a bigger chance of accidents because of more power and length. That is why we recommend getting comprehensive insurance coverage.

You could opt for a rental contract, which will give you more control over how much you spend on your boat per month/ per year. 

The boat would remain the property of your chosen rental company; you would be renting it for a specified amount of time and paying for the prementioned costs per month.

Another option also involves paying a monthly fee for the prementioned costs, but with the opportunity to buy the boat at the end of your contract with the rental company.

Decide where you want to keep your boat. Where you live and how much you will use your boat determine where you decide to pay for mooring your boat. Consider how much travel will cost to travel to your chosen marina or harbour.

On the one hand, if it is close by, popular, and expensive, you will be saving on travel to and from the specific harbour while potentially meeting lots of new people. However, you may feel cramped and more self-conscious if it is a densely packed harbour.

On the other hand, if the marina is far away, quieter, and cheaper, you will still be paying for fuel or transport to get there and back. Some marinas are adapted to suit those with reduced mobility, making them perfect for boat owners who transport the elderly, disabled, or young to consider their needs.

Maintenance will likely be the most expensive out of all your annual expenses.

Depending on your boat's condition, length, and how much time you want to spend on maintenance tasks will dictate how expensive or cheap it is. You should factor into your budget oil and filter changes, anode replacements, dehumidifier checks, air conditioning unit checks, internal quality checks, hull cleaning, and antifouling repainting that should occur every year.

The purchase of cleaning products, epoxy resin, polish, wax, and varnish should happen as and when necessary. You should check life raft, life jacket, and safety equipment every 2 years, as well as bilge pumps, and toilet checks. 

Batteries only require changing every 3-5 years. Bimini, fenders, and upholstery need replacing every 7-9 years.

You need to replace mooring sheets and lines every 5-10 years. If you feel like any of the prementioned boat components require replacing earlier, get them checked first and then replace them if necessary. 

Electronic equipment checks, sail replacements, and rigging replacements should take place every ten years. If you participate in races, you may want to check electronic equipment, sails, and rigging every five years instead.

Fuel is a significant and constant fee if you own a motorboat or superyacht. Your boat's fuel consumption and engine size will determine how much you may spend on fuel.

Start by estimating your boat engine's consumption rate per hour/ litres per hour at a cruising speed.

By looking at the number of hours spent per outing and the frequency of excursions, you can start an affordable and convenient plan of how much fuel to purchase.

Gas has necessary uses in the kitchen, cooking, and heating. Whether you own a sailing boat or a motorboat, you may see fuel as a requirement even in the cooler months.

As well as the costs of mooring, you must consider how much money it will take to travel to your boat on top of toll charges and parking. 

As mentioned previously, in the above 'Mooring Costs', you will need to determine the distance between your home and your boat.

If you travel to another port, consider the mooring fees for berthing your boat there. If you plan on sailing during the weekends, you may need to berth in other marinas overnight in case of jam-packed marinas or long journeys.

If you are planning on leaving your boat during wintertime, consider how much it will cost to have your boat taken out of the water and placed in a dry dock.

You can ask the port companies how much this will cost. Depending on the port company you choose, you may be offered additional services on top of dry-docking and hoisting, such as hull cleaning and antifoul paint. The price of these extra services will depend on the size of your boat.

There are many types of surveys you may choose and not choose to have performed on your boat. Sometimes surveys are necessary, such as when you first purchase your vessel, although you may wish to have a general survey done on a used boat before you buy it to help in your decision-making process.

More surveys that you should consider when planning your budget are standard condition surveys, valuations, and supervision of repairs and construction.

The little extras and contingencies you may want to set some money aside for may include little repairs, equipment like dehumidifiers, and accessories like awnings, covers, and cushions.

Whatever repairs you require, remember that it could involve hiring a handyman who adds to the cost of the repair. It is always much safer to hire an expert to do the work than yourself, as it could take a lot of your time.

If you are looking for yacht or marine surveys in Surrey and the surrounding areas contact our professional boat surveyor today. 

We work throughout Surrey and the surrounding areas including Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Berkshire and Greater London. 

We can also travel throughout the UK if required.

Boat Inspections Berkshire