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The Various Costs of Owning a Boat or Yacht

Denison | June 10, 2012

Prepare for your next boat purchase.

Updated: November 18, 2020

About 95% of owners have boats 26 feet or less at an average cost of $18,000, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, and more than 80% of those buyers shelled out for used or brokerage boats. But buying a boat or yacht is just the start. Bentley Collins of Sabre Yachts says to budget 10% of the boat’s value annually to cover expenses. And then there are the extras.

About 5% of the world’s ultra-high-net-worth individuals own a yacht. A 180′ superyacht costs $4.75 million annually to maintain and run. Kitty McGowan of the US Superyacht Association says that among the costs, you need to budget $400,000 for fuel, $350,000 for dockage, $240,000 for vessel insurance, $1 million for maintenance and repairs, and $1.4 million for crew salaries. We broke down how much it costs to own a boat so you can prepare for your next purchase.

Oil And Gas

Fuel prices can make a big dent in your budget if you’re relying on an engine rather than sails. As a point of reference, it costs about $400 to fill the 80-gallon tank of a 27′ Chaparral with a single-engine. A Tiara 4500 Sovran — a heavy-duty powerboat that is considered fuel-efficient — costs about $1,750 to fill a 350-gallon tank. An oil change can run you about $300.

Title, Registration, And Insurance

The amount you pay for title, registration, and insurance depends on the state and the boat’s size. For instance, the title fee for a new boat in Oregon is $75. Registration is about $8 per foot. In Connecticut, registration runs about $105 for a 26-foot fiberglass boat. Like a car, you need insurance. Figure out the cost at about 1.5% of the insured value of the boat, which covers the boat but not anything silly you might do — such as running into a sand bar.


Cut costs by washing your boat with fresh water after each use. Even then, you may need to repaint the bottom of the boat with anti-fouling paint once a year. If you have a sailboat, plan on replacing the sails every three to five years. With powerboats, you’ll need to check and service the engines more frequently. All of these extras add up — from about $300 per year for cleaners and soaps to several hundred dollars on waxing the hull and treating fabric.

Winter Storage

Storage, which includes hauling the boat, dry-docking it, shrink-wrapping it, and blocking it (so it doesn’t move), costs about $3,000 for a 38′ boat in Connecticut and about $1,500 in Maine. Dockage can also run you a couple hundred to a thousand dollars per month if you’re not on the waterfront.


High-quality life jackets can run about $70 each. A package with a safety gear bag, a Freon horn, a fire extinguisher, a visual distress signal kit as well as dock lines costs $170. Add to electronics — such as a GPS chart plotter and a radio system — items that easily tack on an extra $20,000 per boat.

Toys And Tenders

Toys may not be a priority on your yacht, but jet skis, seabobs, kayaks, canoes, tenders, paddleboards, and inflatables cost an extra few thousand dollars each. A seabob costs about $1,000. And if you have kids, the RedShark 10-man Towable 17′ floater will bring hours of fun attached to the back of your boat for about $1,600.

Most Cost-Efficient Boat

Trawlers are like sailboats but without the mast. They come with a cabin, air conditioning, and heating but not much deck space. They travel at about 8 knots per hour and cost about $160,000 to buy used. They are fuel-efficient, using about 50 to 100 gallons of fuel a year. Trawlers are perfect for families and liveaboards.

If you’re in the market to buy a new or used boat or yacht, consider all of the costs involved. From cleaning to storage, there’s always a fee — yet if that’s the cost of pure bliss on the water, then so be it. Contact Denison Yachting to find your next new or used boat.

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Source: Washington Post. Bloomberg Rankings examined the costs associated with buying and owning a boat. Costs vary and not all listed apply to everyone.