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Nothing compares to the feeling of being out on the open waters on a boat. After all, a day on the boat, whether it be for fishing, waterskiing, sunbathing, or just pure enjoyment is a feeling like no other, but those who dream of owning one might not be aware of the costs that are associated.

Potential owners who have not researched what it costs to own a boat might be aware of the purchase price and nothing more. However, as any boat owner can tell you there is much more associated with ownership. So what are these hidden costs many people forget to calculate?

Jeep Gladiator pulling a trailer with a boat on it.
Boat expenses can add up quickly | Jeep

Upfront costs of owning a boat

Of course, there is the initial purchase price to consider. The cost of a boat can range considerably, beginning at about $1,000 and going up to $1,000,000 or even more. A used boat will cost less, and the overall price depends on a few key factors. A shopper should take into consideration the brand, as well as the size and style of the boat that they are planning to buy.

Features and extras will add to the total, and someone considering a purchase will have to decide on things such as lighting, satellite weather tracking, GPS positioning holding and autopilot, and more. The price of a boat is also greatly affected by the type of vessel, as there are center consoles, sailboats, bowriders, pontoon boats, catamarans, and more to choose from.

Often times the steep upfront cost is enough to scare off potential owners.

What are the ongoing costs of boat ownership?

Once you have gotten past the process of purchasing the boat, there are ongoing costs that have to be taken into consideration, and these expenses can add up pretty quickly.

The ongoing costs can include insurance, storage, titling, registration, and more. According to Discover Boating, an owner will at the very least need liability coverage, and probably damage coverage as well. If you have financed the boat purchase, the lender may require comprehensive coverage.

The ongoing costs don’t end there! An owner will have to budget for storage, which can cost up to several thousand dollars per year, depending on whether the boat is kept indoors or outdoors, and the location. There is also the cost of a boaters’ safety course and license, which are required in most states.

There are also hidden costs to consider

A person also must budget for all of the hidden costs that come along with owning a boat, such as maintenance and accessories. The owner will need items such as safety gear, especially lifejackets and a first-aid kit.

It certainly doesn’t end at this point! The boat owner now has to take into consideration yearly maintenance, and these costs can vary widely depending on whether the vessel is new or pre-owned, whether it’s used in freshwater or saltwater, and the type of boat it is.

A boat will need engine maintenance costs and in some areas, winterizing. Van Isle Marina reports that maintaining a boat can be quite an expense – however, it can vary greatly, with plumbing and electrical issues needing the most frequent attention.

Finally, the fuel cost adds to the expense of owning a boat. Just like with a car, this cost will fluctuate depending upon the motor, the horsepower, and the frequency of use, and can be pretty expensive.

There are so many factors that go into the cost of owning a boat, and it costs quite a bit of money. This is why it is so important for a buyer to do thorough research, and may be even talk to some other boat owners to get an idea of their boating budget.

A boat is a constant expense, and although boating is great fun, purchasing a boat should be taken as seriously as possible so that the buyer is well aware of the costs that they will incur—both at the time of purchase and at regular intervals after that.


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