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post #1 of 17 Old 09-24-2008 Thread Starter
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YACQ (Yet another cost question)

OK I've read several questions about the cost of boat ownership. Some stuff can be determined in advance: slip, insurance, hauling, normal maintenance etc. The wild card is broken stuff. Failed steering, broken roller furling, bent boom, rotted exhaust system to name a few that have happened to us the last two years.
My theory is that no matter what you buy, used or old with or without a survey there are going to be three lists.
1. Stuff you know you need to fix.
2. Stuff you want
3. Stuff that breaks unexpectedly.

With the exception of #2 I am imagining that after the first season you should have the boat fixed up.

So my question is:
After the first year and you fixed everything what surprises hit you and how much did it cost and when and was it really foreseeable.
I'm not counting filters, varnish, bottom paint that is maintenance.
No running rigging, you should have seen that and fixed it the first year
No ground tackle same reason.

I'm talking about surprises including accidents.
Has anyone been able to sail for 2,5,10 years with no surprises?

Or am I dreaming the impossible dream and have to budget, what 3 to 5 grand every year just for Murphy.
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post #2 of 17 Old 09-24-2008
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No, it depends on the age and state of the boat and its size. A boat with all original equipment will appear to fall apart faster than a boat that has a) been maintained, and b) been upgraded.

My older boat is 35 years old, and so is the engine. But after lots of niggling problems, I rebuilt the engine in 2005 for about $1,200, replaced the ENTIRE fuel system (vent hose...BIGGER, new gasket for the fuel fill, new fill hose, new fuel line to a shut off then to a spin on fuel-water filter, a new exhaust hose, a new Vetus water lock muffler and new post-lock exhaust hose (with a proper riser at the stern).

The cost of all those "extras"? About six hundred bucks. The result? Never a drop of water in the oil...instant starts, better fuel economy, "clear" exhaust and a general sense of confidence in propulsion.

It's clear that the original electrical system is pretty well shot, but that's a different job. I can display enough lights to make it legal.

Now, a "surprise" this year is some sort of crack in the keel-hull joint or the wearing out of some ancient repair. I have some water leaking in, but the current "steward" of the boat bought a sausage-sized bilge pump and it's keeping the ten litres of ingress a week under full control. So I'll have to address this at haul-out.

And my recut racing main finally died after five years of abuse...but it cost me 200 bucks and I had a spare Dacron in great shape, so that's no issue.

My other boat is being drastically altered for world cruising, so that doesn't count, but I would say that if your club costs at the 30 foot range are say, $3,000/year all in, and insurance is a tenth that, if you budget $1,000/year, you'll have a nice boat. If you don't race, you can get 15 years out of a dacron set of sails, and if you're like me and scavenge from racers, you "recycle" sails for $100-200 each and use 'em until they are done (three-five years). A recut race sail for me is going to be better for two years than a brand-new Dacron "cruising" sail because of the typically light air.

If you are in salt water, your rigging will last maybe 20 years if you are fastidious...that's a big expense, but worth it.
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post #3 of 17 Old 09-24-2008 Thread Starter
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Thanks Valiente
If you love sailing which most of the folks here obviously do, the costs are just something you accept.
The easiest way to be happy is to match ones expectations with reality.
So if the reality is that even a perfectly maintained 15 to 35 year old boat is going to cost at least a couple thou each year in surprises that it is what it is.

I was hoping that you could coast a few years but looks like maybe not.
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post #4 of 17 Old 09-24-2008
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All of your machinery on board should be exercised once a week for approximately 15 to 30 minutes each time. For if that machinery is never exercised will sieze up via corrosion. A costly overhaul at the minimum.

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post #5 of 17 Old 09-24-2008
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LOL. Love it. My bread and butter is cost accounting, so I can give you some rules of thumb.

No plan survives first contact with the enemy (Naploeon B.) No matter what you think th eboat will need the truth will be different - assume for the worst.

Figure a 20% overrun in any outlay of funds.

Now, specific to sailboats:

The batteries will invariably be slagged and need replacing.

There will be three leaks . . . one of which you will spend countless hours trying to find and rebedding at least three unsuccessful fittings or ports.

The water-lift muffler will fail on any used boat within three to thirty hours of use.

Two pieces of equipment you thought would work . . . won't. This may be anything from the electric bilge pump to the wind meter - but the net value to get both working will be over $500.

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post #6 of 17 Old 09-25-2008 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Delirious View Post
The water-lift muffler will fail on any used boat within three to thirty hours of use.

Two pieces of equipment you thought would work . . . won't. This may be anything from the electric bilge pump to the wind meter - but the net value to get both working will be over $500.
I don't know if you are kidding or serious but my recent experience with two boats is very close to your estimates.
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post #7 of 17 Old 09-25-2008
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I have had my present boat for a year and a half and have spent NZ$20k on it since I took ownership.

Sounds like a lot but I see that as the natural consequence of buying a 20-year old vessel.

I could have saved the 20k. All I needed to do was buy a new boat of the same size at 5 times the price and I would have got all the repairs under warranty (or so one would think).

I think I made the right choice, for me anyhow. Others (Giu) may disagree


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post #8 of 17 Old 09-25-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidpm View Post
I was hoping that you could coast a few years but looks like maybe not.
Well, a little perspective helps here. Your willingness to maintain, fix and where necessary upgrade will moderate this cost, but an unwillingness will raise it.

People who have their brakes inspected, tires rotated, oil changed every 5,000 miles and obsessively wash the road salt off their cars' undersides in winter tend to get 15 years out of a car before it dies. People who don't, don't.

I'll give you an example: I replaced the plexiglas fixed ports myself a couple of years ago over the winter (I have a tarp and frame). The plexi cost under $20, the special gasketing the same, and the tube of silicon was $3. Total time was about three hours.

But now the boat doesn't leak, which slows the rot, which preserves the cushions, which makes it much more pleasant to spend time below. See "positive crankcase ventilation", an eighty-dollar, half-hour fix that got the stink of the Atomic 4 out of the cabin when I was on a downwind run and didn't feel like burning out the blower keeping the draft from filling the engine bay.

So it's perspective. Sometimes these essentially small, cheap jobs (like making a teak seat or a drinks holder for the stern rails) enhance the whole experience of sailing; other times you just need to bite the bullet if your rigging begins to shred.
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One other thing: I have found that if you own a boat in generally good condition to start with (or you get it in that condition), the costs of operation (club/marina fees, storage, maintenance, spares, recurring costs of fuel, anti-foul, batteries) are 1/3 to 2/3s the price of an average car amortized yearly, which for a $30-40K sedan I estimate to be between $6-$10K yearly in fuel, insurance, mechanical repair and maintenance, and depreciation (boats depreciate slower!).

Don't even compare those costs to owning a cottage. If you have a summertime cottage, the cost of visiting is probably in the low hundreds per day if you spend 30 days a year there. We treat our boats like cottages and typically spend 30-60 days sailing (three or more hours), including "liveaboard" nights.
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post #10 of 17 Old 09-25-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidpm View Post
I don't know if you are kidding or serious but my recent experience with two boats is very close to your estimates.
Most of the time when I'm serious I'm still kidding.

"Don't take life too serious - it ain't no how permanent" - - Walt Kelly


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To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive - R.L. Stevenson

I suspect that, if you should go to the end of the world, you would find somebody there going farther . . . - H.D. Thoreau
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