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What are the costs of owning a boat?

What are the costs of owning a boat?

To many, the thought of owning a boat comes with a hefty price tag. But in reality, the average sized boat in Australia is approximately 7.5 meters or less and costs about the same to run as a car.

But before you pull out your wallet and commit to a big purchase, it’s wise to double check the ongoing costs of owning and running a boat. After all, regular upkeep and maintenance costs can add up.

To help you prepare to be the captain of your ship, here are some approximate guidelines for running and maintaining average sized runabouts, walk-arounds, cabin cruisers, trailer sailers and small game boats.

Purchase price

When it comes to buying a boat, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. The price of a vessel depends on the size, make, motor and whatever bells and whistles it comes with. To put things into perspective, a basic five-metre fibreglass boat can cost anywhere from $4,000 upwards. So, depending on what kind of boat you want and what you want to use it for, will determine how many thousands you’ll be spending.

Boating the basics

Before you even think about launching your boat onto the water, you’ll need to make sure your vessel is well armed with the essential safety items and equipment to help your boat get to and from the water. Below is a list of some fundamental boating essentials and the approximate average costs:

·       Life jackets – $80

·       Emergency position indicating radio beacon – $300

·       Marine flare kit – $200

·       Fire extinguisher – $40

·       Fish finder with built-in GPS – $400

·       Boat oars – $70

·       Ropes – $100

·       Marine radio (if you’re planning to go more than five nautical miles off the coast, you’ll need one) – $250 

·       Boat trailer – upwards of $1500

If you’d like more information on the kind of equipment you might need for your boat, download the Roads and Maritime Boating Handbook (NSW), Safety Equipment for Boats in Queensland (QLD) or Boating Safety Equipment (VIC).

Overall upkeep 

The cost to upkeep a boat varies depending on location, age and size of the boat and engine, but a ballpark price for an annual service can cost anywhere from $200 and up.

Keep in mind that you can expect to pay more for time consuming upkeeps such as oil changes and anti-fouling. But if you can perform the maintenance yourself, then that will obviously keep the costs down.

It’s recommended you get your engine serviced at least every 100 hours. And if you want to avoid the impact and associated costs of salt and weather, keep your boat covered and wash it down regularly with fresh water.

Parking, storing, mooring and berthing

If you’ve got the space, a driveway or garage is your best option for a smaller boat. It’ll also save you money on storage rates in the long run.

If you don’t have the space, you can store it at a boat storage shed or on a dry stack or rack at a marina.

Storage rates can range from $400 per month for uncovered and $600 for covered and dry stack and rack options costs around $2500 to $4500 per year depending on size.

If your boat is large or you use it a lot, check out a marina berth or permanent mooring options. Mooring and marina berthing costs again vary enormously depending on location, size and whether it’s a private or public facility.

Fees start at around $100 a year for a simple mooring in a semi-remote location and can be up in the thousands at popular locations like St Kilda in Victoria, Queensland’s Gold Coast, or The Spit in Sydney.

The Marinas Guide is a great resource that provides information on every single berthing option in Australia, whether it’s a marina berth, swing mooring or dry stack facility.

Fuel for thought

Most boats of 7.5 metres or less won’t require huge amounts of fuel, especially if they're sail boats. However, the amount of fuel you use on any given journey will include, the size of the boat, the size of the engine, the weather conditions, the distance and the speed you’re travelling.

If you have a bigger boat with more horsepower, then fuel can start to get pricey.

Protect your vessel

Just like car insurance, the cost of boat insurance varies depending on the size and make of the boat being insured and the level of coverage you desire.

The trick is to look for insurance that protects your vessel on and off the water.

NRMA Boat Insurance covers your boat anywhere in Australia against accidental damage, collision or crash, earthquake, explosion, fire, flood, storm, theft or attempted theft, tsunami, vandalism or a malicious act.

Registration, regulation and licence fees

Powerboats with an engine capacity of more than 5 horsepower, sailing vessels over 5.5 metres, jet-ski’s and all vessels that are moored or berthed at a marine must be registered when occupying most Australian waters.

However, registration costs and licence fees vary state by state, so check your region’s regulations for costs and details.

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