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Ryan Farcas

costs of owning a boat

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so I was looking into getting a boat sometime in the fall or winter, but i didnt really know what the costs were of keeping a boat running and maintained. i was hoping you guys could help me out and share your knowledge. I was hoping to get an older boat around the 1995-1999 range, with a 90-150 hourse engine on it, 2 stroke, not sure in the make or model of the boat or engine, but wanted to know what the costs were on maintaining the boat and motor, both whats required seasonly, and some things that are known to go bad or break most often. If you guys can tie in the price roughly that be great. 

-thanks

 

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There is no telling what kind of costs you will encounter with a rig that old.  Just normal maintenance is lower unit fluid change at least yearly and the water separating fuel filter.  Every few years new plugs, new water pump impellor, and new batteries.  License, registration and insurance.  You may also need some kind of additive for your gasoline.  There will always be something popping up what will demand some cash. 

 

That is why BOAT actually means bring on another thousand.

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A lot depends on how well the previous owner took care of the boat. He may well have not taken care of a lot of little things that any new owner will want fixed. The bigger and more complicated the boat, the more that may need attention. Does the new boat have upgraded electronics that you may want? If you bought my older used boat, you'd be in good shape and your expenses would be minimal. But, be aware that you buy a used boat from a private party, you'll have to pay sales tax (in Illinois that's 6.25%) plus a title transfer fee of $50 plus a registration fee to the DNR. In addition, you'll need to get license plates for the trailer -$18.  

Batteries for the starting engine and trolling motor need to be replaced every 4-7 years at $80-$150 each. If you aren't able to do work on the engine and mechanical systems, you'll have to pay a mechanic maybe $100 an hour to fix the things you can't. Using the boat requires gas and 2 stroke oil plus fuel for the tow vehicle. So how often you fish, how far you drive to the water and how much you drive around while on the water will affect your costs. If your tow vehicle isn't set up for towing, be ready for increased maintenance cost for tires, transmissions, brakes and suspension which wear out more quickly when towing.

In the end, you may spend $400 or $500 a year if you are lucky or you could spend $2,000-$3,000 or even more. I have a friend who fishes a lot more than I do, pays others to do his repairs on a 4 year old boat and probably averages at least $300 a month in expenses.

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New boat owner here, relatively speaking... fuel/oil has been cheap. Most replacement parts for the boat itself are fairly cheap... the motor stuff is where the money is gonna disappear. Better to find the motor you want in solid well maintained shape in the back of a boat you can "deal" with than the boat you want back packing a dud motor. Compression test the cylinders, run the motor, if possible get a test drive on the water so you can see the water pump is spitting water, the muffs can be deceiving here because they push water pressure through the impeller as opposed to the impeller doing the work. Motor, motor, motor!! The rest can be fixed or replaced easily. Unless you're wealthy, then just do what ever you want and dish out the coin! Good luck, people complain about the cost of their boats alot, I love having the freedom so I don't mind the expense

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How much money you got? :D

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I should add that this advice was given to me many times when I was looking for a boat, I didn't heed said advice and have been paying for it ever since, haha... oh well, I do love my boat

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I bought my boat new in 2009. The boat itself is minimal. I replaced two livewell pumps. The motor has been good so far (filters, impeller every two years, spark plugs, so not bad). Bought a spare stainless steel prop. I just started my third set of 4 batteries. Walmart Maxx 29 series.

 

Trailer has been the most expensive repair. One axle needing replacing after warranty period, packing bearings every year or so, replaced all the bearings for the second time (for peace of mind). Need new tires soon.

 

Then minor mishaps. Trolling motor prop (keep a spare in the boat), scratches in fiberglass need to be fixed some day, I broke the plastic arrow on the top of the trolling motor — twice. Trolling motor cables — both of them replaced now. Reminds me, I need to order a spare cable. Rope is about to wear out on TM. Most of this is because of fishing in stumps or bumping into docks in high wind.

 

just bought a new cover too. 

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Well...I haven't seen in this thread where anyone told him what BOAT really stands for......

 

Break

Out

Another 
Thousand

 

More if you don't do regular maintenance.  

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First and foremost, understand there is a huge amount of truth in the old saying, the bigger the boat, the bigger the hole it makes in the water to throw money in.  The cost of operating it and the cost of maintaining it all increasing significantly as the size of the boat or motor increases.

Unless you happen to get one of the problem childs someone else is dumping, the cost of owning one is not that great.  The biggest problem with that is it's not a gradual monthly expense, unless you happen to finance it.  The problem is, with todays labor rates and parts cost, it's usually large chunks of money at one time unless you can do most of the maintenance yourself.  There are routine things that should be done at least annually, at a minimum, and it's hard to take one to a shop for service for less than $500.  Then if you have a breakdown, that can run from the $100's into the $1,000's of dollars.  

When you finance one is when it gets to be a burden to own.  You are dumping money every month into it and it's sitting there most of the time doing nothing but decreasing in value about as much each month as you are paying for it.

The cost of using one is what gets expensive.  As the size of the boat increases, so does the size of the vehicle needed to tow it.  When I got to my favorite lake, it's 95 miles one way.  I generally make a two day trip and stay with in-laws but towing my 20' Javelin and gas in it and my 2500HD generally cost me around $100 for the trip.  Then throw in the other expenses for food, drinks and tackle, that's can be another $50.  So, $150 for a two day trip to catch a bunch of fish I'm going to throw back in as I catch them is average cost of each trip.   However, I can take 14' jon with a small motor like the 9.9 or 25 and go to the river 10 miles from me, fish all day if I want, catch a mess of cat fish to eat and still not cost me $20.

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Lots of truth in this thread. One reading it might get the impression that owning a boat is more misery than fun due to the costs involved LOL. I think it's really hard to put an actual price on the cost of owning a vessel but as mentioned some of the regular expenses are there. But to me it seams that no matter how well you care for your boat there is always something that needs attention or is looking at your wallet for assistance. Having said that I really enjoy having a boat so it's worth it to me.

 

If I enter a weeknight tournament in my local lake that might attract 30 boats I will not have the least flashy boat there but there will be many that are much more impressive. But my boat is suitable for such an event, I just have to make some comfort compromises but nothing too bad. A 16 foot alum has its limits especially in big water but I don't have 10s of 1000s of dollars tied up in mine either.

 

The main thing is if you spend the day fishing and return home the last thing you want to do spend an hour getting the boat back in shape, especially when there are cold ones sitting in the cooler. But the keeping maintenance costs down requires discipline and planning. If you are always reacting to problems instead of performing routine maintenance then your costs will be obviously higher.

 

And then there is always the unexpected. Last year I was planning on replacing the water pump as preventative maintenance. I could not get the shift linkage to separate for nothing. I tried and tried and finally, to make a long story short had to replace a lot of shift linkage parts and not only was it a cost factor it was some time to figure out. I ended up having to remove two of the carbs to gain access to the linkage so this required new gaskets and the carbs were not part of the original problem. I mean the water pump is in the lower unit and all the shift linkages are under the hood. 

 

Right now I have a looming expense in that I really need to replace one of the lights on my trailer and the electrical control in one of our tow vehicles. That is going to cost about $100.00 total and take a few hours of my time. But this reminds me of another cost and that is for items related to your trailer. hitches, electrical, ball mounts and so forth. A good class 3 receiver hit is a couple of hundred dollars or more depending on it you install it yourself. That may or may not be a problem as many trucks come with hitches from the factory.

 

So I think it hard to make a comprehensive list of expenses. If your on a budget then in my opinion it is wise to keep the expectations of the actual boat/motor a bit more towards the modest side. I personally think aluminum ages better than fiberglass and smaller motors are in general easier/less costly to maintain. I will say that my 16ft aluminum with 50 HP Merc if I had to pay someone to fix all the things that I have fixed myself in the last 4 years I would be totally broke.

 

Most of us who live in the north put our boats away for at least a few months in the winter. It is easy to put off doing things that will bite you in the butt in the spring when all you can think about is bass sitting on the beds. An hour or two winterizing the motor, while no guarantee, can avoid problems in the spring. 2 cycle fuel sitting in an unused motor for months at a time can cause real issues when the weather improves. 

 

When shopping for a used boat from the 90s just be aware that there be potential money holes lurking under the carpet. I would highly recommend that you educate yourself on those issues. A small soft spot is an indication of a large problem.

 

 

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Like most mechanical items, older usually costs less up front but could more likely break down sooner, rising exponentially in cost (the unknown).  A new boat and motor have a higher up front cost but usually don't break down right away (or at least shouldn't).  Look at it like a car with 120,000 miles on it compared to one that has 20,000.  The newer one still has a warranty and shouldn't have major failures while the old one could potentially crap out on you easier.  Routine maintenance, especially on the outboard, will go a long ways in helping avoid a major problem.

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:lol-045:

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I've never experienced the "Break Out Another Thousand" phenomenon...but I buy well maintained boats and take care of them well myself.

 

I also do most of the work on them myself.

 

I'll change the oil and lower unit lube once a year myself, replace the impeller on a regular schedule along with the water pump, as preventive maintenance.  I'll fill my gas tank on the spring (call it $80, $90) top it off in International Falls (usually another $60), fill it when I get home (it was $77 last year)...and run on that until fall.  I'm out at least once a week, often more.

 

Generally speaking, figure about what it costs to own a car that is out of warranty.  More if you are hard on your equipment.

 

Batteries are much more than in a car (there are more of them, usually), but if you take care of them they will last as long as car batteries easily.

 

I saw a boat not long ago that is 3 years old and is in far worse shape than my 12 year old boat.  That guy spends a lot of money on his boat.  When I saw it, it had a broken seat, the prop was all chewed up, the skeg was bent and the trolling motor was loose...I saw some other things that were going to be problems soon as well...but I've learned that he doesn't want to hear about them.

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I think a lot of the cost of boat ownership depends on your ability to maintain and fix problems before/when they arise. With marine labor costs anywhere from $80 to $120 and hour most with a minimum charge of a half hour it doesn't take long for even the simplest of tasks to add up quickly. I've also seen some horrendous attempts at diy work. For example, on my boat, the front switch panel must have had some issue in the past. The previous owners chose to disconnect it, but instead of just pulling the male/female connections apart, they instead decided to clip all the wires. I'm no wiring expert, but I know enough to get me by so I fixed it myself. Had I taken it to a marina, the same job would have cost me probably $150

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IMHO boating/fishing is a hobby. It gets me outdoors, I get to compete in some tournaments, it's why I work.

I have owned a boat, yes there are expenses, I don't know of very many hobbies that don't cost some money.

I am in the process of buying a boat again, but I will find the right one and pay cash. Even if it's a older model, I really think I can invest in a older boat, do the repairs, maybe some upgrades, but won't have to worry about a $20-30 thousand dollar debt.

 

 

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I have a 2005 16.5 ft aluminum boat.  I hit a rock once (new lower unit)  $1800.  Have had the trailer rewired, new tires and some other minor maintenance over the years $250ish.  Every year I  pay to have my boat winterized.  At this time they check all connections, change lube,oil,  plugs......  They also shrink wrap and store my boat over the winter.  This costs $400ish a year.  They also run it and check everything before I pick it up in the spring.  I consider this $400 dollars a year money well spent.  Knock on wood, except for my lower unit I have had 13 years of trouble free fishing and tubing with kids.  Summers seem short up here and the last thing I want is to miss time on the water because of boat trouble.  I feel good knowing that every year the motor has been serviced and looked at.  I know others do this themselves, but I figure for how much $ a guy spends on tackle, rods and reels, gas...... I will spend the extra $ to make sure I am on the water.  If I have to give up other things to make sure my boat runs, I am willing to do it!

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My dealer charges 2 hours labor plus parts to winterize. Plugs for a Mercury ProXS are 30 bucks a piece or more and need replacing ever 100 hours of run time. This past year I replaced 3 deep cycle batteries at $130 a piece and a starting battery for $100. Replaced seals on the power steering unit, and had to have the cover repaired because this past winters snow tore it....and it tore again a couple weeks ago in another spot.Replaced a fitting on the livewell twice because I broke the first one installing it. Replaced the fuel vent because Lund has it mounted at dock height on the port side. (I try and launch/retrieve with the dock on the starboard side but that is not always possible) ....All this on a 5 year old boat. Will need trailer tires in the next year or two....You then have license and registration fees, fuel, oil, insurance, in northern IL I have to pay ramp fees and water usage fees on many lakes. I also have to pay to store the boat because the HOA does not allow me to keep it in my driveway and it won't fit in the garage. So, yes it can get pricey. Wouldn't trade it for the world  

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On June 22, 2017 at 4:00 AM, Hez said:

Well...I haven't seen in this thread where anyone told him what BOAT really stands for......

 

Break

Out

Another 
Thousand

 

More if you don't do regular maintenance.  

Read Jig Man 1st reply.

My wife calls boats a square hole in the water that you poor money through, bigger the boat the more money.

Don't over look insurance and the tow vehicle, trailer,  storage space. Boat maintenance is usually not a big factor, the outboard engine, electronics, trolling motor and batteries are a constant maintenance costs. Where I live and fish the extra cost of gasoline for the tow vehicle, lake entry fee's out way the cost to operate the boat. The added tackle storage space is great advantage if your rig is garaged, stored outside the tackle should be removed do to excessive heat under a cover.

Breakout another $1,000 annually should cover your expenses!

Tom

 

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28 minutes ago, WRB said:

Read Jig Man 1st reply.

 

 

I don't know how I missed that

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Simply put.....Buying a boat is easy and if you choose  to finance it, it is simple.

Some expenses most don't consider 

Registration 

Insurance 

Gas

Town vehicle 

Winter storage

Boat accessories, extra props

Routine maintenance 

Repairs after warranty expires

Ect......

Value for time on the water, priceless!

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8 hours ago, NHBull said:

Simply put.....Buying a boat is easy and if you choose  to finance it, it is simple.

Some expenses most don't consider 

Registration 

Insurance 

Gas

Town vehicle 

Winter storage

Boat accessories, extra props

Routine maintenance 

Repairs after warranty expires

Ect......

Value for time on the water, priceless!

Right...all about the same as an extra car....Less, really, the insurance is cheap...registration is cheaper (by half), Gas is way less than a car...

 

For me anyway...YMMV.

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