The dream of owning a boat used to be somewhat unattainable, with yachts and motor cruisers reserved only for the very wealthy. Nowadays, it can be much more affordable to purchase and own a boat, although it’s important to factor in all the different costs to expect, from the initial outlay to the recurring annual upkeep.
Experts recommend that 60% of your boat budget should go on the initial cost and leave the remainder for maintenance costs and unforeseen expenses. We’ve broken down the major costs so that you can start planning ahead, but obviously these figures are variable depending on the size and type of vessel you own, as well as how much you plan to use it.
Boat Safety Scheme Certificate (BSS)
Similar to an MOT, the BSS is a safety initiative run by the Canal & River Trust and Environment Agency. You’ll need a BSS certificate in order to register your boat if you plan on using it on inland waterways like rivers or canals, with repeat inspections required every four years. Enquire after local surveyors and get at least three quotes.
Cost: £150 / every 4 years
Although it isn’t a legal requirement to have yacht insurance, most local authorities and marinas insist on a minimum level of third party liability insurance. For use on inland waterways you’ll need third party insurance for at least £1 million or for use at marinas you’ll need £3 million. In most cases, insurance premiums tend to average at about 1.5% of the boat’s insured value. For a comprehensive quote or advice on the type of cover you need, contact our team of experts who will be able to guide you through the process.
Cost: £300 / annually
Registration and license fees
Once you’ve got a BSS and insurance, you can then obtain a license with the relevant navigation authority that is responsible for the waterway you would like to use. Costs can vary here depending on location and boat size, with an average 30ft boat annual fee coming in at £122 for the Cheshire Weir to £230 at the Anglican Waterways.
Cost: Variable, £100-£300 / annually
If you plan on keeping your boat at a marina, you’ll need to pay a fee. This will arguably be one of your most pricy fixed costs, with huge fluctuations based around the location and additional facilities offered by individual docks. A premium berth at a sought-after marina can cost well into the thousands, whereas a dock at the end of a farmer’s field will cost substantially less. To keep costs down, you could choose to store your boat at a yard during off-peak seasons, or keep it at your own home if you have the space.
You’ll need to factor in the cost of storage if you’re not lucky enough to live somewhere that’s warm and sunny all year round. Again, this is a negatable cost if you can keep it on your driveway (although your neighbours might find it a bit of an eyesore!). If you pay the harbour it’s kept at for the storage, the annual fee usually includes the boat being hauled out, protected and set on blocks or you can pay a seperate charge solely for out of season berthing.
Safety equipment & gear
From lifejackets to essential sailing gear, you need to factor in these costs as they can amount to quite a hefty sum. A good quality lifejacket can cost £100, while a decent sat nav system to save you getting lost at sea can be anywhere from £200 to well into the thousands for a top-line model. These costs are usually a one off if you keep your kit in good condition or items will last a good few years with regular maintenance.
Generally speaking, boat maintenance is the highest ongoing cost that you will incur during boat ownership. It’s estimated that annually, maintenance will cost 10% of the boat’s value and will massively vary depending on if your boat is brand new or older. To cover antifouling paint, cleaning and equipment replacement, you can easily run into hundreds of pounds. But with preventative measures and good care, you can avoid bigger costs further down the line.
Cost: 10% of the boat’s value - avg. £3,000 / annually