Forums > Sailing General

The REAL cost of ownership

Created by DrRog > 9 months ago, 16 May 2012
NSW, 605 posts
16 May 2012 4:34PM
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Hi. If this has been covered before I'd appreciate a point in the right direction (searched but no real hits).

I've been trying to ascertain the real cost of yacht ownership (26 - 30' cruising yacht in Sydney). Some people say that it costs you everything you have whereas others seem to say it just takes a couple of thousand a year . It seems most are intentionally ignorant or just coy about the real costs. But I actually really want to know. In advance. Before I'm forking it out.

This is what I've come up with so far and would appreciate your input. Could you tell me where I'm off, fill in the blanks, and what items haven't I included (besides optional items like autopilot, bimini, etc)?

Year 1 Year 2
Fixed and Initial Costs
Mooring Licence $580 $580 (not in premium zone, otherwise $900)
Wait list mooring $420 (for premium zone)
Mooring Apparatus (used) $600
Mooring Move/Service $500 $350
Anti-foul $1,200 $1,200
Insurance $300 $300
Registration $27 $180
Total $3,627 $2,610

Variable Costs
Engine service / repair ? ?
Running rigging ? ?
Fixed rigging ? ?
Sails ? ?
Other ** ? ?

Mucho apreciación, hombres.

NSW, 836 posts
16 May 2012 6:06PM
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G'Day DrRog,

I can give you an example of the costs from my perspective owning a 25' Top Hat.

My mooring license is $356, in Careel Bay, Pittwater.
Apparatus was free, the previous owner didn't want anything for it.
Average cost over two years of mooring services is about $500
Insurance for the boat for $15,000 is $450 per annum
Slip clean and antifoul was $1,050 after a 10% discount for paying on time.
Outboard Service $50
So, there you go. The basic cost of a 25 footer is about $2,500 per year.

THEN you have to amortise the costs of other things, and these are a list of things I've bought or done in the three years, but will amortise as much as 15 years for things like standing rigging and sails.

Lazy Jack Boom bag $450
Stern seat cover $125
New companionway framework $300 (I did that myself)
Topside polish $550
Strengthening stern bracket for outboard $600 (by a shipwright)
New standing rigging, including cap shrouds, lowers, for and aft stays, $3500
Removal and repair of pulpit including sealing on deck $800
Removal of mast wiring and replacing conduit, including new antenna, $900,
Replacement of most of the running rig, with spectra $600
New water tank filler $80
New pressure pump for the galley sink $120
New VHF radio $120
New Depth sounder $90
Repair of UV cover on #2 headsail $70

That's a total of $8,305. We paid $10,500 for the boat three years ago and I had to sell it to my wife that I could buy and pay for the upkeep for three years at less than $25k.

It's our third anniversary this April and as you see, with two years of standard services worth about $2500 per year, for a total of $5,000, plus the cost of the boat and the other one off purchases we're up to $23,805 approximately.

If you then say you will average the rigging and the other major purchases over 10 years, you're going to be looking at an AVERAGE of $3,000 to $3,500 per year of ownership. If you include the cost of the boat of course this goes up.

Of course, if you pay a lot more for the boat or it has some serious issues, then you'll pay more. So it will pay to get the boat you like surveyed to uncover any hidden surprises.

I hope this helps,

NSW, 2533 posts
16 May 2012 6:55PM
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I agree with Michael. My boat is a bit bigger than 30' but you can extrapolate the costs down.
I have kept an Excel spreadsheet since purchase with all my purchase, upgrades and running costs itemised by the month.
Running costs since purchase are $329/month. That includes repairs like a new shaft etc but not what I term upgrades where I spent money improving the boat e.g. sodablast the hull, install deckhead lining etc.
I paid $37,000 net for the boat. Nearly 6 years later I have spent $86,121 on it, including purchase price, getting it to its current condition and equipment fit. That includes everything that wasn't running costs including clothing, sat phone, raft, engine overhaul, rigging etc.
If you send me a message with your phone number I can call you to explain the costs for each of the items.
Things you need to consider:

Fuel and oil
Rope and shackles
Sail repairs
Engine repairs/service
Other repairs
Prop & shaft
Sail repairs
Interior repairs
Mooring service
Dinghy storage
Raft service
Mooring fee
Gas bottles
Bum scrape
Salt Pan Coop/S&S34 Assoc
Miscellaneous bits

Hope this helps.

NSW, 6690 posts
16 May 2012 7:14PM
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This is a tough one to answer and I probably should not try as I don't fit the parameters. I live outside the metropolitan area and I'm a pensioner. My mooring costs $153 a year and rego on a 30 footer is $88. Slips cost about $450 plus antifoul, roughly $300. So well under $1000 a year. Any sail repairs I do my self along with all maintenance, SS fabrication etc is done by myself. I've just bought a couple of sounders off ebay in the states and stuff like navigation is done on a laptop with Seaclear. Mooring maintenance is done with a hooka.
I was fortunate that when I bought this yacht it came with enough spares to last me out. This plus a shed full of a lifetimes sailing gear and gear left from my fishing business I can handle most problems that can arise.
Most of the items you list in the variable list should be included with the sale if the boat meets NSW rego. If you shop carefully then the yacht should not have any major defects and some yachts with fibreglass hulls and enclosed lead ballast plus an inboard diesel are surprisingly cheap to run. You just have to avoid paying people for stuff you should do yourself then you can splurge on that new sail etc.

One way to have a starter boat and get a recently serviced mooring is this item on eBay.

Just remember that these cheap yachts on eBay are there because the cost of keeping them are more than the boats worth!

NSW, 6690 posts
16 May 2012 7:23PM
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MorningBird said...

I agree with Michael. My boat is a bit bigger than 30' but you can extrapolate the costs down.
I have kept an Excel spreadsheet since purchase with all my purchase, upgrades and running costs itemised by the month.
Running costs since purchase are $329/month.

What sane person does that John! Do you keep that list from your missus?
How is that new main holding up? I'm just looking at the options at the moment for a new furling 135% genoa.

NSW, 605 posts
16 May 2012 7:48PM
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Hey guys, this is fantastic! Great information - exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much - very obliging. I've had a quick look and will digest it later.

Seems I should retire and move out of Sydney!

NSW, 2533 posts
16 May 2012 11:26PM
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G'day Graham. I know I shouldn't be anal about boat costs but it keeps me honest. It also encourages me to do the maintenance myself and extend antifouling to every 18-24 months.
A GRP hull, sound diesel and getting satisfaction from messing about in boats allows a boat owner to get enormous enjoyment at quite reasonable costs.
I have spent a fair bit for an S&S34 but she is now capable of going anywhere a sailor could want to go in any ocean of the world, not that I intend trying it.
The Fareast main is excellent, better now that it has been used and isn't so stiff. You wouldn't use one for serious racing but it is outstanding for cruising or social racing.

WA, 855 posts
17 May 2012 9:47AM
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The old rule of boat ownership is you should spend 10% of your boat's value each year, to keep her in decent condition. Expect 15% if you sail her hard! Many years it is possible to stay under the 10% figure, but you have the occasional capital project (eg: new sails, rudder bearings, engine top end, etc) that will cost you a bomb.

I'm very fortunate in sharing my yacht with a good mate - So costs are 50/50, best savings of all.

Most importantly we never EVER track or add up what we spend (& never let your wives know!) That sort of information will never make you feel good


NSW, 28 posts
17 May 2012 5:08PM
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There correct about 10% of purchase price (unless your a worrier and you buy spares for your spares) I have had my Northshore at Pittwater for four years. Initially you probably spend a bit more at the beginning to make it how you want it but you can't count that. Never tell the wife how much your toys cost.

NSW, 836 posts
17 May 2012 5:14PM
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I tell my wife about everything I spend on the boat. Right down to a few screws. Why? So I can prove that I was under budget, just like I promised. Also, because she handles all the money so I don't have to worry about it.

It's a lot easier on the nerves that way


QLD, 554 posts
17 May 2012 8:16PM
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B.o.a.t stands for





I'm serious

VIC, 5904 posts
17 May 2012 8:25PM
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I just spend it , and she counts it .

NSW, 2533 posts
17 May 2012 8:51PM
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My wife knows what the boat costs, no secrets.
I also have a 1954 Triumph TR2 which I have had for 36 years and she is encouraging me to buy a superb MkII Jag similar to what we had soon after we married. I suspect I married well.
I don't like the 10% rule. If you enjoy messing about in boats and know your way around a diesel I believe it should be 5%. As noted above my boat cost me $80,000 including all the work to get it to its current state which includes rig, sails, engine rebuild etc. I spend $329 a month running it, just under $4000 a year.
As Poodle says the occasional big spend comes up but I bought a new main for $1300 to replace the original which was 27 years old. $1300 over 26 years is $50 a year. Rigging is say $5000 (34ft boat) every 10 years, $500 a year.
A new engine would blow it but often a replacement engine would be factored into the purchase of a boat, even if you planned to do it a few years down track.

QLD, 12187 posts
17 May 2012 10:20PM
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Buying a boat is like buying a Rolls Royce.

If you need to know what it costs to run, you really can't afford it.

From that you can draw a conclusion that your passion is worth whatever it costs.

Poodle's advice is very sound and based on the experience of many a yacht owner.

The 10% rule goes further than he stated.

From an entirely pragmatic point of view:- "Never let your boat/s represent more than 10% of your nett worth."

Many, many successful yachtsmen follow that rule.

Then again if you followed that rule to the letter, you might never go sailing.

You either will or won't go sailing regardless of the cost.

NSW, 28 posts
18 May 2012 10:58AM
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Hi Dr Rog,
This is all going a bit wrong. When you're out on YOUR boat on Pittwater on a good day with a bit of breeze you will know that the money was worth it.

QLD, 263 posts
18 May 2012 4:19PM
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Keep paying for things you want and don't tell anyone, keep it simple and have fun on the yacht is the answer.

These items were mad from left over building jobs I worked on and worked on the pervious yacht.

QLD, 12187 posts
19 May 2012 12:02AM
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whiteout said...

That is not the stern of an Adams 35.

QLD, 263 posts
19 May 2012 12:09PM
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No its the trusty Folkboat M26 I still miss it.......

NSW, 605 posts
19 May 2012 5:44PM
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doug27 said...

Hi Dr Rog,
This is all going a bit wrong.

Thanks Doug. No, it's not wrong - it's great to hear different points of view. I'll make my own mind up in the end, but every perspective is interesting to hear.

doug27 said...

When you're out on YOUR boat on Pittwater on a good day with a bit of breeze you will know that the money was worth it.

Yes, I think that is the case, for sure. (that's tongue hanging out in the breeze like a dog with its head out the window rather than poking my tongue out at you!)

But it's far better to go in with a realistic idea of costs and it has been surprisingly difficult for someone with few friends who are into boating to find that information. You hear stories about people who've spent too much on their initial purchase because they haven't factored in the real running costs (but they don't tend to mention what those actually are).

So thank you all, especially for specific information on your actual running costs (which was, after all, my question).


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"The REAL cost of ownership" started by DrRog