You are hereProject Retirement, ep 12

Project Retirement, ep 12

By Q-Bert - Posted on 20 August 2021

The one where we count the cash.

So, how expensive is it to own a yacht ? How much does it cost per month to live on board your boat and enjoy the cruising life ? Do I need to crack open my piggy bank ?

Well, it's almost like buying a house, and we all know how relaxing on the bank account that can be... Like a house, there are two parts to ownership: upfront costs (or "buying") and recurrent costs (or "maintaining"). Let's look at each one.

Upfront costs, or "What am I getting myself into??"

The upfront costs can be divided into a few categories:
Price of the actual boat
When you see a yacht for sale, the price you see only relates to the actual boat itself, and typically, its contents as listed. Let's say you found a great little monohull for $27,000CAD "all equipped"; that sounds like a great deal! But that's just the beginning.
Cost of purchasing the boat
Survey (get the boat out of the water and back in)
You *should* get a survey done before you complete the sale. A survey is like a house inspection and serves the purpose of detailing what works on the boat and what doesn't. It also details things that have to be addressed immediately for the boat to not sink and/or lose its value. The cost of a survey usually starts at $600CAD and can go up to $900CAD. You may also incur the costs of pulling the boat out of the water and putting it back because a survey is done on dry land. The haul-out and splash can cost you between $200 to $2000 depending on how big of a boat we are interested in.
Sea trial (get the boat in the water and back out)
A Sea Trial is where you take the boat out with the owner (or selling agent) and see if you actually like it. It's a few hours on the water. The seller usually absorbs the costs of this, but if the boat is *out* of the water to begin with, you may be asked to cover the costs of splashing it and then hauling it out again. See the prices above.
Major repairs necessary
You have found the deal of the century, but when it comes to boats, that deal may come with some strings attached, such as Major Repairs. The worst would be hull de-lamination and osmosis blisters. Those need to be fixed and are not visible to the naked eye. You need a professional survey done on your boat to find these. If they are present, repairs can easily hit you in the tens of thousands. Next would be rusted standing rigging. That stuff will break at the worst time: when you are in bad weather. Standing rigging is also expensive to replace.
Moving the boat to your location
Found a great boat on ? Chances are that boat is somewhere in Florida or South Carolina. You may have to pay for a captain to deliver the boat to your location via water, or a specialized truck via roads. If you bought a catamaran, water may be the only way to move it. Transport will certainly cost you a few thousands to *many* thousands. I moved a large object a bit smaller than a small sailboat between Quebec city and Cornwall and you are looking at $1500 plus tax minimum.
You must register your boat with a country, and when you do so that country has a good chance of charging you tax, even if you purchase a used boat. In Canada, that's your usual GST.
Initial fuel
Yes, sailboats have an engine, so they do use fuel. It's usually diesel, and filling up your tank the first time can hit you for half a grand, depending on your tank size.
Your sailboat will have been inspected by your surveyor, and there are very good chances that he/she will recommend you change some large things rather immediately:
Running rigging
These are the various ropes used to bring the sails up and down, and tie your boat to docks and such. They are sold by the foot, and you can reach a price-tag of $2000 without too much effort on a medium size sailboat.
Engine tuning
Your engine is there to get you out of trouble. It must start when you need it. Get a engine mechanic to inspect it and replace the necessary tubing and wires if they think that's wise. Budget an easy $1000.
This cost will vary *wildly* because of the sail sizes and materials recommended. Start at $8000 for a front sail, and a main sail, and keep adding up if you want other types of sails, and backups.
Extra parts
You should have at least 2 of *everything* on your boat, except the main engine block. Waiting for a part to come from Vancouver when you are anchored near Bimini, and that part is necessary for you to continue island-hopping... not fun and perhaps immensely costly if you are forced to wait at marinas for 3 months.

Recurrent costs, or "Making sure it doesn't sink"

"Parking" the boat
Marinas will charge you per foot, per night. They vary wildly as well. It's not difficult to see $2 per foot per night, so a 40-foot sailboat can cough up $80 per night while docked at a marina. You do not need to use marinas, that's why you have an anchor. Anchoring is free. Why do people use marinas then ? Usually it's because of power; it's hard to recharge your batteries or use your A/C unless you have kick-ass solar power and huge batteries.
When hurricane or winter season comes, you have to store your boat out of the water for many months, and doing so will cost you between $1000 to $3000.
Insuring the boat
Insuring a boat, like insuring a house, depends on the value of the boat. You can figured $30 per year for every $2000 of value of your boat.
Diesel prices vary greatly between countries, and some vendors may even water down the diesel to make more profit. Your engine will not like that, and it's difficult to detect. Figure you may pay double what diesel prices are in Canada.
Living costs, or "Living it up"
Possible liveaboard costs for the marina
If you decide to "reside" at a marina and have a year-round slip and "liveaboard" your sailboat, marinas will charge you a bit less for the solid business and then a bit more for providing you constant water and electricity and perhaps internet as well. It usually ends up costing a little bit less than what you would pay for a two bedroom apartment in the same city.
Obviously this varies greatly. I highly recommend you budget some solid money in quality food and good restaurants. You are not sailing because you want your life to suck; have fun.
Visas and entry costs
It may not be obvious, but almost all countries will require you to pay money to gain entry into their territory. This is due when you go to customs. You should budget a few hundred dollars per month of stay.
If you sail, you have a destination in mind. Once there, you will want to explore. If the activity you have chosen is free, it is still a good idea to go spend in the local economy, as you will most probably take *some* resources as you proceed in your activity, even if you are using a free hiking trail: someone had to spend the time and money to actually bushwhack the trail.
Have fun: get some paddleboards, inflatable kayaks, surf boards, scuba gear, snorkels, wet suits, fishing gear, a good sound system, a game console, LCD projector... Do silks gymnastics off of the mast, get some free-weights and exercise bands, bring your yoga mats...
We said that you need to have two of everything, but you must also have the tools necessary to remove and repair *anything* on your boat. That includes epoxy and fibreglass. Get quality power tools that use batteries. And this will be a recurring cost as any tool will rust extremely fast in humid climates and environments. It's not crazy to think that you will get new tools every 4 or 5 years.

A few Youtubers have detailed their monthly costs, here's a few:

Sailing Zatara has large family on the boat and this is one of their highest cost month, in the highest cost part of the world, just before a passage:

The O'Keilly's run a large catamaran, but are just one couple and they detail their monthly budget in the Caribbean:

Sailing Millenium falcon are one couple living on a smaller sailboat and detail the refits and monthly costs of sailing the Caribbean:

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