Boats have topped the wish list of many people in the post-pandemic world and the marine industry has experienced explosive growth for two years now without signs of easing. Whether small fishing boats, towing sport boats, or large sailing yachts, boats have been selling out as everyone seems to want to live a more adventurous lifestyle. If you too have considered purchase, you should first run through a comparison of the pros and cons of owning a boat.
Owning a boat can be an exhilarating proposition and for some, it becomes a passion.
Family time – boats have a way of bringing families together for concentrated togetherness. Whether you want to teach young kids to love the ocean or get teenagers off their phones and into the great outdoors, nothing will create quality time faster than a boat. Couples benefit too whether enjoying retirement or just trying to carve out time for one another in a busy world.
Friends – boats are great for entertaining and friends suddenly appear once they learn you have a boat. Weekends and holidays are a great time to be on the water, or you can just put together a spontaneous weeknight happy hour and have cocktails aboard.
Variety – there are many things you can do with a boat. You can spend a weeklong vacation aboard a yacht, or you can sail to nearby islands for the weekend. You can bring dive gear aboard and explore beneath the waves, or you can perfect your sailing skills which are often admired by others. There’s always a new cove to explore and a new skill to learn when you have a boat.
Community – boats come with a built-in social life even if your family and friends aren’t much into the activity. Boaters love to share everything from skills to maintenance tips to wine. You’ll never be alone on a dock, and you’ll be making new memories all the while.
Health – boating brings fresh air and physical activity into your life. If you’ve been cooped up in front of Zoom calls, there’s nothing like a breeze on your face to change your perspective. Speaking of which, boats have a way of dissipating stress and balancing life for maximum enjoyment. They have a way of keeping us sane.
Spontaneity – there’s little more freeing than having the option to jump on your boat and head out for a few hours or days when the opportunity presents itself. Unless you’re making a passage, it doesn’t take much time to slip the dock lines and have a refreshing last-minute adventure and because you own the boat, you can do this almost any time.
Education – on a boat, you’re always learning. Whether you’re learning how to sail, how to navigate, or how to change an impeller on the engine, you’re always honing new skills. Some people get a kick out of learning to be self-sufficient by maintaining their boat systems while others become so enthralled with navigation and boat handling that they go on to acquire a captain’s certification.
Sharing – once you’ve acquired expertise, it’s a joy to share it with others. You may be able to help a new boater learn close-quarters maneuvering, or work with a neighbor on his engine. There’s intrinsic value in personal growth and the sharing of knowledge with others.
Investment – boats are depreciating assets (more on this below) but given how well even pre-owned boats have been selling lately, chances are that you may be able to own a boat for a year or two and then sell it and recoup your original investment.
For every benefit, there’s a cost, and owning a boat is no different.
Limited togetherness – although initially enthusiastic, your family, friends or significant other may fall out of love with boating or simply won’t have the time to participate. That means you may be boating alone and although that can be enjoyable, it won’t be the panacea you imagined. The kids may not want to spend all their time on your adventures and the grandkids will have competing activities.
Skills – you’ll need to have some boating skills to manage the one you buy. You’ll have to be able to drive one, sail one, dock one, fix one, and clean/varnish one. You may also need to pass a boating license in your state and all the above take time and money.
Commitment – boating takes time and not just the actual hours of enjoyment. You’ll need time to maintain and clean it and even if you pay someone to do that, it will be your time spent managing the process. Also, depending on where you keep the boat, you may not be able to enjoy it year-round which means it will sit unused and that’s the time when things break on their own. Many boaters spend much less time on their boat than they had originally planned because they didn’t understand the commitment that a boat requires.
Maintenance and repair – boats require lots of maintenance and constant cleaning because they’re moving platforms in a harsh environment. If you have the skills, you can take this on but at the expense of other things you may want to do. If you don’t have the skills, you’ll need qualified marine contractors who don’t come cheap. Also, the more equipment you have on your boat (electronics, watermaker, generator, etc.) the more maintenance you’ll need.
Moorage – you’ll need to keep the boat somewhere and for larger yachts, that will be in a slip in the water. With the exploding interest in boating, marinas have grown tight and expensive, and it’s hard to find a slip just about anywhere. If you do find one that’s not close to you, you’ll have to add in the time and expense of commuting to your boat.
Fuel – especially lately, fuel costs become a significant portion of boating even if you own a sailboat. The affordable summer vacation may become less enticing when the fuel bill tops several hundred dollars per weekend.
Basic expenses – there are many other expenses beyond maintenance costs, fuel, and slip fees. There will be insurance, taxes, registration or documentation, utilities including slip electricity and water, and a mortgage if the boat is financed. These are recurring monthly or annual costs and must be figured into the overall cost of ownership.
Accessories – boating is gear-intensive and budgets can be blown with the accessories and toys that come with the activity. On a sailing yacht, for example, you’ll soon find yourself investing in handheld electronics like a VHF radio, apparel like foul weather gear, lifejackets and harnesses, boat necessities like anchors, line, and a tender, and so on. It’s like skiing, golfing or any other passion – the boat is just the beginning.
Depreciation – as mentioned above, boats are depreciating assets and despite the anomaly that’s occurring currently, boats can be worse than cars for keeping their value. Unlike real estate which may fluctuate but eventually increase, boats have a finite life and that’s reflected in their annual depreciation.
Another way to go boating is owning a boat one week at a time and that’s called chartering. When you charter or rent a boat, you have all the fun without worrying about maintaining, slipping, or cleaning it. You enjoy the boat and then hand it off to the base and walk away without so much as hosing the salt off it. It does take some planning to charter so it’s less spontaneous, but it also represents less commitment. And when you charter a yacht in an exotic location like you can with Navigare Yachting, you enjoy a destination where your boat would never venture.
Charter yacht ownership can offer you lots of perks and is much simpler than you think. A charter company like Navigare Yachting provides turnkey maintenance and opportunities for you to sail extensively and get paid while you do it, offsetting the cost of ownership. Please read our blog Why Buy a Boat in a Charter Program to learn more about the benefits of charter yacht ownership.
To own or charter: make the decision based on your time, budget, skills, and personal goals. Either way, you’ll be out on the water and that’s priceless.