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Cost Considerations of Boating

Starting Up

Naturally, prices for new boats vary depending on size and make, but many boat manufacturers and dealers can put you in the captain’s chair for considerably less than a monthly new-car payment.  In fact, monthly payments for many entry-level boats can be less than $200 a month.

Boat Financing

You can finance a new boat just like a new car.    And boat loans, just like car and home loans,  have carried extremely appealing interest rates in recent years.  Terms generally range from two to 20 years, comparing rates on-line is a great starting point.  Check with your financial advisor, bank, or credit union for other options for financing.    There are alternatives available for managing YOUR MONEY that may be more suitable than simply getting financing of a boat.  (The staff at The Daily Adventure are advocates of understanding how money can work for you in ways besides going deeper in debt.)

Boat Outfitting

When you’re pricing boats, factor in the cost of electronics, accessories and water toys and buy what’s appropriate for your boat type, size, planned usage  and your home waters.
Modern marine electronics are extremely reliable, are loaded with features unheard of just a decade ago and are more affordable than ever.  Above all, don’t skimp on safety gear.

Today’s marine accessories can make boating safer, more fun, and downright easier than it was just a few years ago…

Boat Operating Costs

Boating isn’t an activity like driving where you are using gas all the time.  In fact, when a person is boating, they may be fishing or swimming or just sunbathing on the open water and not using the motor at all.   If you own a sailboat the motor is used even less.

Most of the boats in use on the water today are less than 21′ in length.  These crafts do not require exorbitant amounts of gas, so any impact would be negligible.
In fact, more than 60 percent of boaters say they purchase less than fifty gallons of gas per season—roughly two trips to the gas station to fill up your SUV or Minivan.    You will find that most of our information is geared towards this group.

Boat Maintenance and Upkeep

A simple freshwater wash down of your boat and trailer after each use and keeping them covered between adventures will go a long way toward keeping your maintenance costs at bay.   In our opinion, the more fiberglass and less carpet  or teak you have, the quicker and easier the clean-up.  Stainless is much easier than wood to keep looking new.  If you don’t feel like you have the time and energy to do it yourself, hire a pro. It’ll pay off in the long run to keep your boat clean. Costs for routine maintenance vary by region, but for more involved services, such as oil changes and winterizing, expect to pay what you would for your car on an hourly basis.

Pre-owned boats can require significantly more maintenance.  As with any type of equipment, TLC from the beginning extends the life expectancy.   And having dependable equipment while on the water is a critical part of enjoying the experience.  Being “broke down and stranded” is not as glamorous as Gilligan’s island portrayed it to be.

Boat Storage

When it comes to storing your boat, you have several options depending on the size of your boat. You won’t find a less-expensive way to keep a boat than storing it on a trailer in your driveway or backyard. Another alternative for smaller boats is rack storage. A typical rack storage facility keeps your boat in a covered shed filled with trailer-like cradles. For owners of larger boats, and owners of small boats who crave convenience, a marina slip is the best way to go. Learn more about different types of storage that are available before buying a boat.  After-all, as much as you plan to use your boat, it will spend most of the time in storage.

Boat Insurance

Boat Insurance varies by boat length and type, by the cost of the boat and the level of coverage you want.  If you plan to dock or store your boat, consult local marina’s to determine what levels are needed in your area.   Contact your insurance agent for quotes or shop for rates on-line.   Some smaller boats can be insured for a nominal sum as a rider on a homeowners policy.  Another source for boat insurance is through organizations such as BOAT US or specialty marine insurance providers that can be found on the Internet.

You can also reduce the cost of marine insurance premiums by taking a boater’s education course.  Some states have requirements for boating safety courses before issuing registrations.

Other cost considerations:

If you are going to store the vehicle at your house or away from a marina, you will need a way to tow your nautical toy to your favorite ramp.  Check your vehicle towing capacity and your trailer hitch to insure that you are ready for your new purchase.  It sounds silly, but something that is has been overlooked by thousands of new boat owners.  They find themselves “stuck” on the ramp without the ability to pull their boat and gear up the ramp, or “stuck” at a automotive repair shop with damaged drive train or suspension components resulting from over extending their vehicle’s limits.