Back in 2019, an estimated 11.8 million boats were registered to private owners in the US. With the rise in outdoor activities and socially distanced leisure, we can only imagine that the interest in boat ownership has increased.
First-time boat owners often underestimate the cost of owning a boat, thinking almost exclusively about the price tag on the boat, itself. The reality is that owning a boat is not unlike owning a car–you have to think about the cost of boat upkeep, insurance, and more.
How can you make sure that you’re more prepared to make this big purchase? Learn about the cost of owning a boat and best practices to keep boat ownership costs on the lower end.
We’re here to help. Read on as we outline the upfront and “hidden” cost of boat ownership.
Boat Purchase Prices
The cost to purchase a boat depends largely on the type of boat you choose to purchase. On the low end, you could pay several hundred dollars for a motorless Jon boat. On the high end, you could pay several hundred thousand dollars for a yacht or cabin cruiser.
If you’re thinking of buying a typical fishing boat, you could find a small one that is well-equipped for calm to moderate waters at around $25,000. This boats are designed for usage on a lake or large river and, when well maintained, can last for a few decades.
Fuel and Boat Operating Costs
Assuming your boat has a motor, you will need to consider the cost of fuel as well as other operating costs. These costs will cover the maintenance, repair, or replacement of the batteries, pumps, lights, oil, and any additional equipment that keep your boat up and running.
Unsurprisingly, boat operating costs vary from year to year. For example, costs are high right now due to things like supply chain shortages and rising gas prices. Stock up on materials like lights and batteries when costs are low.
Insurance for Your Boat
Boat insurance is not a requirement in the vast majority of states. However, if you use your boat often and in high-traffic areas, it may be worth considering.
Basic boat insurance will cover certain repairs to the boat, itself. If you are worried about the liability of owning and operating a boat, you will need to purchase additional liability insurance.
You may also want to read our article on what to expect from average boat insurance prices.
Depending on where you live, you may have to meet certain educational criteria to receive proper boating certification. This tends to include things like boat safety certification. If you enjoy traveling over state lines with your boat, you will also want to receive certification from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
Completing safety courses and getting certified tends to come at a low cost. The best part is that you can often receive a discount on your boating insurance if you do so. We always recommend getting certified, but especially if a) it’s required by your state and b) you plan on insuring your boat.
Mooring and Storing Costs
One of the biggest expenses that new boat owners often don’t expect is the cost to moor your boat at a marina or store your boat in a storage facility. Both tend to calculate costs based on how large your boat is and may bill annually at a discounted rate or monthly at a higher rate.
If you’re looking to save money here, look for a secure storage facility. Marinas can charge up to several thousand dollars per month to store your boat in exchange for quick water access as well as access to an exclusive club. An on-land storage facility isn’t as glamorous or convenient, but it also tends to cost hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars less.
Cost of Maintaining a Boat
Part of why new boat owners are often surprised by the true cost of owning a boat is because they’re not anticipating the many ongoing costs of owning a boat. This includes things like mooring and storing but perhaps the biggest chunk of change is going to go towards boat maintenance.
It’s impossible to predict the cost of boat maintenance from year to year. It can consist of light cleaning and winterizing or it can consist of expensive replacements of major boat parts.
One of the best ways to cut costs on boat maintenance is to take matters into your own hands as much as possible. Low-cost boat maintenance supplies like bilge pumps and wax sealant sprays will help you save money on regular boat upkeep so that you’re more prepared for the big repairs down the line.
Here’s a great video of how to protect and maintain your boat finish using our wax sealant spray!
Cost of Accessories, Add-Ons, and Equipment
Now for the fun part: you can also expect to spend at least some money on boat accessories, add-ons, and equipment. Boat add-ons tend to factor into the upfront cost when you choose to buy a decked out boat with all the works instead of the standard features. Accessories and equipment come later.
What kinds of accessories and equipment should you keep on deck? In addition to all of the fishing gear that you desire, you’ll need life jackets, a first aid kit, cleaning supplies, and a cooler for your water–and your catch of the day.
Prepare for the Cost of Owning a Boat
Don’t be fooled into thinking the cost of owning a boat starts and stops with that initial cost. There are plenty of ongoing or additional one-time costs of boat ownership to account for. Our goal is to keep some of those costs low so that you can stay focused on what you love: hitting the open water.
If you’re looking for high-quality and affordable boat supplies that will help you maintain your boat, check out our selection!