Boat Ownership: How Much Does It Really Cost to Keep a Boat at a Marina

how much does it cost to own a Grady White

The author’s 20′ Grady White backing out of a slip on Casco Bay in Southern Maine.

If you’re looking for an estimate on how much is costs to own a Grady White, Boston Whaler, Key West, Pro-line, Century or similar recreational boat, I hope you’ll find this article useful.

cost of boat ownership estimator

Last year, my family and I purchased a 20′ Grady White Tournament sport boat and one of the things I promised to do was blog about how much it actually costs to own a boat. Through my research and speaking with the previous owners, I had an idea how much it would cost to maintain and store the boat (at a marina in Maine), but I knew there would be some “hidden” boat ownership costs that I hadn’t thought of.

As promised, after a year of boat ownership, I’ve compiled the following list of expenses to help you estimate how much it might cost you to own a similar sized boat. Keep in mind these expenses only account for the “fixed” costs of owning a boat; in other words the expenses listed below exist regardless of whether or not the boat is used or not (in other words I didn’t include the cost of fuel).

Owning a boat and keeping at a marina is an incredibly convenient and FUN experience but as you’ll see below, the costs of this convenience can add up VERY quickly. I hope you find this information helpful in your decision to buy or upgrade your boat.

Insurance:

Our annual boat insurance premium was $307 through Progressive Insurance. I never had to use their service so I cannot speak as to their customer service or if they were fair when it came to filing a claim.

Registration:

The State of Maine requires all recreational boats to be registered. For our boat it cost $65/year to register the boat for salt water use. It would have cost more if we intended to trailer the boat to fresh water lakes as well.

Winterization of Boat Systems and Outboard:

Because our slip was paid through the fall when we first boat our boat. Our first expenses were full winterizing the boat. These expenses, performed through our marina, cost $577 and included changing the oil and servicing our 150 hp Yamaha outboard.

Hauling/Launching the Boat:

The cost of hauling our boat out of the water and launching it again in the spring was $184.

Wash Bottom of Boat:

Because our boat stays in the water throughout the summer (in the slip), there is a lot of marine growth (barnacles, seaweed, etc.) on the hull that needs to be cleaned off. This service cost $55.

Outside Storage:

Because we have no place to store or boat at our house (nor do we have a trailer to tow our boat), we pay to have our boat stored at the marina. This fee was $653 this last winter.

Shrink-wrap the Boat:

Another boat ownership expense we had was shrink wrap the boat to protected from the snow and ice during the winter. How much does it cost to shirkwrap a boat you might ask? Well, we paid $376 last year for our 20′ boat. You can expect to pay a little more depending on the size of your boat as shrink wrapping fees are general priced per square foot (your boats beam X length). For example, 26′ boat would probably cost around $450 to shrink wrap.

Canvas Cleaning, Inspection, Repair and Storage:

Another expense you’ll need to consider is the inspection and repair of any canvas work you have on your boat. Our boat has a fully enclosed cockpit area with a lot of canvas work. Through a 3rd party contractor, we were able to have the canvas removed, stored, cleaned, inspected and 3 panes of “windows” replaced for $375.

Rebalance Propeller:

You’re always going to have some maintenance items that need to be taken care of. For me, it included re-balancing the stainless steel propeller after I ran the boat the boat aground when I first learning my way around the bay (LOL).

Repaint Lower Unit:

I also paid for some cosmetic repair that was also related to the propeller incident above.

Additional Outboard Maintenance:

In addition to the above items, I also had the outboard’s “rebalancer” mechanism and water pump replaced. The cost of this was $1,027.

Remove Frame:

This fee, $73.60, is associated with removing the shrink wrap and framing prior to launching the boat in the spring.

Commission Boat for Launch:

These fees included testing and reconnecting the boats electrical systems (GPS, Batteries, Navigation Lights, etc.) as well as other boat systems including the hydraulic steering system. Total price $392.

Paint Anti-Fowling on Hull:

Due to the ever present tendency of marine growth on the underside of your boat, it is recommended that you paint the hull (below the water line) with special anti-fowling paint which helps prevent marine growth. It cost us $348 to have our hull painted with anti-fowling paint.

Clean/Wax Hull:

If you want the your boat to look clean and shiny, you need to have it waxed. The fee for cleaning and waking our boat was $402.

Test Run:
Due to all the work performed on the outboard during the winter, I wanted to make sure the boat was 100% ready to go when we were ready to use it. The fee for this test run was $75.

Lifejackets:

Although our boat came with a decent supply of accessories (including some nice life-jackets), we bough two new jackets that were a better fit for our kids. Total $125.

Flares:

Always important, the flares on our boat had expired so we replaced them with new flares costing $25.

Summary:

As you can see, there are a TON of expenses that come with owning a boat.  Depending on your marina’s policies, you may be able to perform some of the maintenance and winterization work yourself (I just don’t have the time).  Additionally, there’s always the option of trailering your boat around but I’ve talked to many people who say they just don’t use the boat as much if they have to launch it every time.  Hopefully this article will help you make an informed decision of whether or not buying a boat and keeping it at a marina is right for you.  Remember, there’s always the option of renting a boat as well.

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