Costs of Boat Ownership

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Boat Ownership Cost

You’ve saved your money, you’ve done your research, and now you’re shopping for boats for sale. Congratulations! Recreational boating is great way to spend quality time with your family, de-stress from your busy lifestyle and soak up the great outdoors. And buying a used boat is a perfect way to test the waters of ownership

Want Ad Digest’s classified listings feature used boats for sale of virtually every description, from sleek racers to sleepy pontoons, to fishing boats and more. But before you embark on this new adventure, make sure you’re prepared to handle the long-term costs. When budgeting for boat ownership, experts advise, allocate about 60 percent of your budget to the purchase, and 40 percent to everything else. Here’s a summary of the ongoing costs you will need to include in your calculation:


For most people, buying a boat–like buying a home or a car—requires long-term financing. If you have good credit and can make the required down payment, you should be able to obtain a boat loan from a bank or credit union. The length of the loan will vary, depending on your financial situation and the age of the boat. For used boats, loans generally range from 5 to 15 years.


Motor-driven boats in the State of New York must be licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for a modest fee, based on the size of the boat. Registration must be renewed every three years. Vessels of 30 feet or more in length must also be registered by the U.S. Coast Guard.


Buying a boat is a major investment, so insuring it against damage is a smart financial decision, even where it’s not required by law. Adding liability coverage to your policy will protect you financially from third-party claims of bodily injury, medical costs and damage to someone else’s property.

The State of New York does not require insurance to register a boat, but you will need insurance to register a boat trailer. If you finance your boat purchase, your lender will likely require insurance, as will your marina if you plan to dock your boat.

Your insurance needs will depend upon the type and size of the boat, its age and condition; whether it is paid off or financed, and a host of other factors. For more details on boat insurance, visit the American Boating Association web site at


If you own lakefront property, or if your boat is small enough to trailer and store at home, dockage expense won’t be an issue. Otherwise, you ‘ll need to rent a boat slip. Most marinas calculate their fees based on the boat’s length. Many marinas also offer dry storage in wintertime for an additional fee.


Fuel is likely to be your biggest operating expense. Marina fuel costs more than the gasoline you put in your car, so keep fuel efficiency in mind when choosing a boat to purchase.

Supplies, Maintenance and Repairs

Proper maintenance helps to prevent emergencies and protect the longevity of your boat. You must keep your boat oiled, gassed, cleaned, waxed, painted, repaired and stocked with necessary safety equipment, including a life preserver for each passenger, flares, fire extinguisher, life ring and a whistle. Also recommended are: first aid kit, tool kit,boat hook,oar or paddle, compass, marine radio and spare parts.

When you understand the total cost of boat ownership, you’ll be prepared to make a decision that fits your budget. The better you plan—and stay within your means—the freer you’ll be to enjoy the boating experience.

Is boat ownership beyond your budget? Consider purchasing a personal watercraft, such as a Sea Doo. Click here

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