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Cost of Ownership, Bow Thrusters & Bottom Paint

5174 Views 16 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  NickPapagiorgio
Years ago I had a Beneteau 32 First and then a Pearson 36. I am getting back into sailing after a 10 year absence. My husband sailed with his family as as a kid, the last boat was a Tartan 37. Last year my husband and I bought an 04 Formula 27PC cruiser and had a magical summer in Long Island Sound and Block Island. We often had guests and we spent three 10 day vacations on the boat and almost every weekend as well. In the fall we decided we really liked the boating experience and wanted a bigger boat, we sold the boat.

In retrospect, the power boat ownership came at a big expense. Logging 130 hours last summer we spent over $7500 in gas. We had major repairs nearly every month, sticking gears, the AC, the generator and smaller things, a door that fell off, a sump pump motor had to be replaced. We came to the conclusion that sailing would be a much better way to enjoy the water, at least there was no fuel and we liked the sailing community better. The decision comes with some concessions. Last year we kept the boat on the CT river 30 minutes from home. After checking out various ports we have settled on New London, 50 minutes away. It offers us an easy sail to Block Island (we hope about 4 hours) and Greenport (3?) as well as the closer Mystic and RI ports.

I have a few questions to the group. We have narrowed down our purchase to the Beneteau 393 or 423. We love the lines of the boat, the accommodations and the ease of sailing with all lines running aft and the in mast furled main. I love the idea of a big galley with an oven, too, as I cooked most of our meals on board last summer. A surveyor friend gives the brand a heads up for good construction and value. We stay mostly on docks so we want the AC. How much maintenance is there on a newer boat, we are looking at 04s to 06s? Should we be prepared, for say $1000 worth of repairs each summer. We know with just one engine and the ease of access we should be able to change the oil and fuel filters and any easy things. On the Formula it seemed like something always was breaking.

We had several close docking calls with the Formula. Wind, current and inexperience frazzled us a few times. For a boat in the 40 foot range we are thinking we need a bow thruster. Only one boat we are looking at has one. To add them, we got a quote, from one dealer of $8500. That seems very pricey. Do we really need one. How hard are these boats to get into a tight slip. On Block Island they raft everyone which can get tricky too.

Being on the river we used an ablative paint. Now that we will be on the sound and salt water can we still use that or do we need to do the every 3 year scraping and bottom painting.

I'd just like some idea what to expect and to budget for it all. thanks
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I think you need to talk to some boat yards to get a better idea about costs in the area were your going to keep the boat

LIS is not really a bargain area and i can make a 1000 dollars disappear doing 100% of my own work in my driveway as my boat spends the winter on a trailer ;)
The bow thruster is nice but usually unnecessary. we've had a few different 40+fr boats over the years, some with and some without a thruster and found on the boats which had it, we hardly ever used it. Docking a 40 even in a nice breeze isn't that difficult once you get the hang of it. The cost seems reasonable but shop around is always good advice.

Ablative is the paint of choice in salt water for a myriad of reasons and avoids the ritual scraping chore. Buy a multi-season paint and it should last a couple of seasons for you.

Not that you asked but you would be well-served to check out the competitively priced boats before focusing exclusively on the Beneteau.
Since I never had a 40 footer, is the bow thruster overkill then? I just imagine with that big a boat that the windage would be an issue.

As far a competitive boats, what boats can you recommend? We are looking to spend under $200k, we want the two cabin layout preferably with two heads and a equipped galley. Seating for 8 inside would be high on the list. But most importantly, sailing ease for two.
I can't help much with the budget questions, as we are in our first year of ownership. But I wanted to put in a little plus for the 423. We bought an 06 423 in March of last year. We spent most of our time on her until we sold our house and have lived aboard since August.

It's a great boat for coastal cruising. I've done a passage on a true blue water boat, so I think I know some of the differences.

My only reservations about this boat for coastal cruising is the lack of storage. We struggle to carry everything we need on board

There's a good yahoo group for the 423 that's worth reading if you decide on that boat.

Welcome back to the sailing world!
Steve, I cannot imagine living on board full time. And I would think it might be tight for that.

Are you someone that does most of the work yourself? The yards in CT are pretty expensive. I am hoping that there is not as much mechanically that goes wrong. Have you had any repairs since you bought the boat.

Also do you have the main sheet furled in the mast or the lazy jacks. I haven't found a boat that has every option we wanted and it may come between choosing between the furled main and a bow thruster. I was concerned that the lazy jacks aren't quite as easy as the furled main. Although a sailor told me just sail with the jib and forget about it entirely.
Since I never had a 40 footer, is the bow thruster overkill then? I just imagine with that big a boat that the windage would be an issue.

As far a competitive boats, what boats can you recommend? We are looking to spend under $200k, we want the two cabin layout preferably with two heads and a equipped galley. Seating for 8 inside would be high on the list. But most importantly, sailing ease for two.
I don't want to start any wars (which is typical here) when someone expresses opinion about good or bad boat mfgs but will say there are lots of options available to you in addition to Beneteau that fit your type and age boat expressed previously and can be had within your price range. About the worst thing anyone can do is focus on one particular brand as each has their good and bad points. I won't comment further.

Regarding the thruster on a 40 ft boat, the vast majority don't have one which should be indicative of something. Any boat seems large until you get used to it so don't let that sway your decision.

Choosing between a thruster and furling main, if it comes to that, is a very personal choice. Both add convenience; the latter suffers from loss of performance sailing characteristic. Reefing a std main is pretty simple if set up properly.
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We don't plan on living aboard for a long time. We are planning on migrating to the east cost, and thought we might just do it this way.

We have had no repairs to deal with, other than work on the heads. I like to tinker, but when it comes to the head, I turn it over to others if possible.

We have the in mast furled main. We've had no problems with it. I was inclined to worry about the possible problems with a furled main, but so far, we're happy.

As far as a bow thruster. it would be nice at times, but so far I've not missed the fact that I don't have one. And of course, it's another system to fail. I'd probably love it if I had it, but ao far, there hasn't been a time where I thought "If I just had a bow thruster!".
You raise a number of interesting questions, but I also think you may need to think a bit more about what you want to do with the boat.

As a start, are you planning on sailing with just you and your husband, or do you have kids? Do you plan on overnight guests, or will it be just the two of you sleeping on the boat? If it's just the two of you, then I would think the 393 would be fine for size and might save you a few bucks. If you will be sleeping more, however, then I would strongly recommend going with the 423. Another consideration is sailing ability. The 423 will sail MUCH better than the 393. Just another thought.

In terms of costs, sailboats do cost less than powerboats to maintain. Obviously fuel is less expensive, but it seems as though they are less expensive in other ways. That said, maintaining sailboats is not cheap. If you do the work yourselves, you can reduce the maintenance costs dramatically. Unfortunately, there is no real way, in my opinion, to determine in advance how much it will cost to maintain a boat in the abstract. If you tell me what will break, what upgrades you want, and what work you will do yourself, then I can give you a better understanding of what the costs will be. Obviously you can't do that in advance, which is why it's very difficult to predict. I will say that $1,000 per year seems low, unless you will do ALL the work yourself (including commissioning and decommissioning). Just to pull a number out of thin air, and assuming you do at least some of the routine maintenance (oil changes, some decommissioning, etc.), I would say that $3,000 to $5,000 is probably are more realistic number.

On the bow thruster, you certainly can get by without it. You might have a few exciting moments your first few times docking, but you would learn to live without it. That said, if the money is not an issue, you will like having the thruster. Even if you choose not to use it all that often, when you need it, you will find it invaluable.

In terms of a place to keep the boat, there is nothing wrong with New London in terms of its proximity to other places, but it's not the nicest place. I would consider some of the places on the Mystic River, south of the bridges. Or maybe somwhere on the Conn. River. Westbrook also is nice, and there's a great Brewer's there (Pilot's Point). Again, nothing "wrong" with New London, and it is a convenient to Block, Shelter Island, etc., but there are nicer harbors in that area that also are convenient to these points of attraction. Just my opinion.

One other thing about Block. You might find that taking a mooring is preferable. This is entirely personal preference, but the moorings there are very close to shore, you easily can dink in, or even take the launch. Yet, when you're on the boat, you have more privacy on the mooring, it is more quiet, and more pleasant, IMO. But if you really feel you NEED to be dockside, I'd go with the Boat Basin over Champlains to avoid having other boats rafted. The last thing I want when staying on the boat is having numerous strangers climbing over my decks to get to/from their boat, and many of them are a little light on etiquette, so they go through the cockpit, look in the hatches, and stuff like that.

Good luck!
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Our kids are in their 20s and we'll probably not have more than another couple overnight. But we do have guest often. We like to entertain so extra guests for dinner will be common. Both the 393 and the 423 have similar galleys it appears. And the seating seems close to the same. It does not seem hugely different for dining.

I think we will do some of the easy, non mechanical things like waxing and changing oil. I can't imagine replacing a bilge pump or anything like that.

I am curious that you said the 423 will sail better, how so? We are leaning towards the 423 anyway, as this is probably as big as we will go unless we sell our business one day and opt for some long range cruising.

I never had a lazy jack so I am curious as to if that has to be done at the mast and how about with the furled main, can that be done in the cockpit?

How about a generator. Is it necessary on a mooring if you just want some lights and a stereo?

Does anyone know how much the 423 or 393 sold for new in 05 and 06?
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Go to a boatyard in the Area and get a quote for winter storage including hauling and painting the bottom (which they usually require you pay them to do now.) Don't forget about covering the boat. You will probably want to shrink wrap a boat that new. You could save 200 or 300 dollars doing it your self but it is 2-3 days of labor. Some boat yards make you unstep the mast as well.

On the south side of the sound you might be looking at 4000 worth of storage fees, before any repairs or up grade, maybe a little cheaper where you are.
Actually, replacing a bilge pump is considerably easier than changing the oil...

We are usually just the two of us on the boat, but my daughter and her husband live in England, so when they visit, they tend to be here for a good period of time.

We wanted a boat that was comfortable for the two of us, but big enough for two couples for at least a couple of weeks. So far, our longest time aboard with two couples has been 10 days. It was fine. It's probably worth considering that we all like one another...
I have sailed on both a Bene First 51' (for 400 nm offshore) and a Bene 505 of which NEITHER had a bow thruster. Slow and steady usually wins the race when docking, with some practice.
Having never had in mast main sail furling I am not a fan of it, perhaps without good reason. If it ever jams in a real blow you are in worse shape then with a traditional set up with Lazy Jacks.
Have you thought about having Radar on the boat for when it gets a bit foggy out on LIS (and you know it does)?
It will be your boat so I hope that all your extra gear provides you with the safety and comfort you desire.
Changing the engine oil is not all that difficult either.
We definetely want rader and and a GPS. It gets very foggy in LI sound. I am less firm on the in main furl in the mast as a requirement.

Good advice on getting some pricing for winter storage and shrink wrap and all.
Do people still paint the bottom every year. I thought the newer paints give you 2 years of wear?
Don't forget a chart plotter AND paper charts for your areas. Chart plotters can leave out some very pertinent information that is on the paper charts; things like shoals and rocks come to mind.
You should think about getting a SAT phone as well since you might want to email your friends or get weather info. In most areas of the LIS you will have cell phone connections but it is nice to have the backup and computer hookup.
Did I mention an auto pilot? Below decks control of the rudder seems to be quite a lot better then the wheel pilots (had the below deck auto pilot going from Tortola, BVI to TCI (Turks & Caicos) with no problem over 400 ocean miles).
As for bottom paint, I do it every year with a cheap ablative paint. If you want multi-year performance you will need to spend about $200+ a gallon for the better stuff.
The marine growth on things like the propeller are always a problem. Plan on having someone dive the boat to give it a good cleaning at least once in season. The cleaner the water is the more critters there are to attach to your boat's bottom. It does not take a huge barnacle build up on the prop to reduce it's efficiency.
Average yearly cost for a 40' sailboat would be conservatively $4K/year not including upgrades, fixes and fuel. I would budget for more if I could afford a bigger sailboat then my Tartan 27'.
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There is an industry rule of thumb; it takes on average 10% of the original cost of the boat to maintain as new, pay dockage, fuel, etc. This rule is based on moderate use (12-15 days a month), annual haul out/launch and outside storage with the mast in. It includes the cost of most materials but assumes that the general maintenance is done by the owner except for painting the bottom.. There are higher and lower exceptions of course but I have found this to be a good starting point in planning a basic budget for a late model production boat in the 40 foot range.

The single most important piece of equipment to me other than the basics of gps, vhf, depth sounder, speedo is an auto pilot. Second is a good dodger.
I don't own a boat (at this time) but I have chartered quite a bit. We took out a Hunter 44 one year and it had a bow thruster. I have to admit that it was nice because I am less-than confident in my docking abilities. I think if you own the boat however, you would probably only use it in the beginning when you're still "learning" the boat. Once you get used to everything you'd probably not use it at all.
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