Is Having a Boat a Money Pit: Myths and Facts

Is Having A Boat A Money Pit: Myths And Facts

The lust for the sea, and the need to feel the wind whip through your hair as you ride the ripples is what often compels aspiring sailors to purchase a boat.

Many soon end up regretting their decision as they realize that the total boat cost is not limited to the price you pay at the time of purchase. Its upkeep requires substantial funding, which is why people often term it a “money pit”.

In fact, there are some very popular sayings about buying a boat, and not a single one of them paints a very happy picture.

“Buying a boat is like throwing your money into a hole in the water.”

“The two happiest days of a boat owner’s life are the ones he bought and sold his boat on.”

Doesn’t paint a very exciting picture, does it?

But before we come to a conclusion, let us first debunk some myths with facts.

Are Boats Expensive to Maintain?

If you’ve been around a few boat owners, you probably know exactly how hard it is to maintain a boat. By no means is this a cheap or low maintenance investment.

In fact, it may not even be a good investment. Before we dive into its cost-benefit analysis, let’s talk about its maintenance costs.

Most boat owners purchase boats on a whim and don’t take into account future financing needs. You may only use your boat for a few months and still have to pay for gas, cleaning storage, and other repairs.

Pricey Repairs

Pricey Repairs

Because the vessel is always in contact with water and exposed to the sun, salty sea air, and water, chances are that its parts may rust faster than you expected.

You will have to check the motor and pay for the recommended service and maintenance every season.

The worst part is that you can’t even skimp on them as that may depreciate the value of the boat faster than it already is.


Whether you take it once or twice or put your boat to good use, you will have to consider the cost of fuel top-ups before every ride.

Not many take that into account and often find the cost of running the boat unbearable and thus decide to let it rest in storage.

Storage costs

Leaving your boat out on the water during winters is not a good idea. You won’t be taking it out as much, and leaving it exposed to the atmosphere is only going to add to its wear and tear.

It is better to store in a covered shed, and unless you own a garage that can serve as boat storage, you will also be renting out a place adding to the cost.

Cleaning Fees

This is an area where you can easily save some money by cleaning your boat yourself. However, you will have to dedicate a substantial amount of time and effort to the process, which is not possible for many.

You cannot spend every weekend scrubbing your vessel clean, which is why many decide to hire help for this purpose.

Here, the amount of money they charge will vary by boat size, but it is still an added cost you will bear if you do decide to buy a boat.

Many people claim that maintaining a boat is the same as taking care of your car.

If you decide to undertake maintenance yourself, you could drastically reduce the cost and enjoy your boat. But make sure you don’t walk in blind and have a fair idea of what you are signing up for.

Is a Boat a Good Investment?

Whether a boat is a good investment or not largely depends upon the size of the boat and your budget. If you can afford a yacht, then, by all means, buy one.

But if you can’t, then there’s really no need to overshoot your budget as you will for sure end up regretting it.

The thing with boats is that they depreciate quicker than you may realize. It’s a vessel that is regularly exposed continuously to the harsh environment.

Thus, it undergoes substantial wear and tear. It’s not bringing in any money and is sitting out there on the water, losing its value. 

What Makes a Boat a Good Investment

Azimut Atlantis 43 and the “big names” project making their world premier at Boot Düsseldorf 2015

A boat’s substantial initial price tag should make you think twice. However, many will defend their purchase with various arguments.

Stress Relieving

Being near the water instills a sense of calm that many seek. For them, there is nothing better than spending one day a week battling the wind and tides.

In fact, it can turn into quite a vigorous workout, especially if you are steering a sailboat. All these combined make it a stress-busting exercise, which adds to its appeal.


Besides giving you the opportunity to boast, a boat does open a world full of activities.

You can go for a dip in the middle of nowhere and relax and unwind. You can hang out with friends and enjoy a relaxing trip. Speeding on the water is quite an appealing prospect.

An excellent family exercise

What better way to bond with family then to go for a boat ride. As you drift away from the shore and the Wi-Fi network, you feel compelled to engage with your loved ones.

It could make for the perfect family picnic where you go for a swim, hang out or play games all away from the distractions of bustling city life.

Closer to Nature

Being one with nature is essential for our growth. It not only helps you relax but can also aid in curing depression and anxiety disorders.

You can even view many aquatic species up close as water bodies present a whole other unexplored region. You will not get experience more fulfilling than exploring all that nature has to offer.

What makes a Boat a Bad Investment


When all that’s been said and done, buying a boat is still a considerable risk. At the time of resale, you may not even get half of what you end up investing.

Various Fees

The price you pay initially is the cheapest part of the entire process. What ensues is what may break your bank.  You will have to pay the tax and find insurance.

You will even have to pay registration and licensing fees, and all that amounts up to a substantial amount of money.

Costly Maintenance

Besides regular cleaning, you will also have to take care of engine upkeep and maintenance.

If you aren’t very well trained in motor vehicle maintenance, then you may need to hire professional help, and that will inevitably cost you a lot. 

Besides that, you will also have to pay for gas and storage. There’s always maintenance work required on a boat, and you cannot avoid the wear and tear given its purpose of use and its location.

You didn’t buy a boat to keep it locked up. Chances are that even if you do keep it stored, there will still be repairs to be made when you do decide to take it out.


Boats lose value quickly. In fact, they are probably the worst purchase ever from a resale point of view. Within a year, a boat could easily lose 20% to 25% of its value. The figures vary by make, model, miles run and maintenance and repairs, etc.

However, 18% to 20% of boat value is easily lost within the first year of purchase, even if it’s in perfect condition.

Is Buying a Boat a Waste of Money?

Is Buying A Boat A Waste Of Money?

Buying a boat can easily be a bad investment if you make the wrong decision. People do equate it to throwing your money into the water. And they aren’t wrong.

If you’ve bought a boat from an investment point of view, then you’ve probably made the wrong decision. It will not give you much profit at the time of resale. In fact, it may very well sell for a lot less than what you’ve spent on it.

However, if you’re a boat enthusiast or you really want to be the captain of your own ship, you can do so without it costing you an arm and a leg. It all comes down to your budget and how much value do you think you’ll derive from the vessel.

If you place great emphasis on recreational activities, then you won’t regret your purchase even if it is equivalent to wasting your money. Plus, you can adopt various techniques through which you can save a substantial amount of money.

How to Cut Down on Maintenance Cost?

While we know that this article has been pretty disheartening so far, don’t lose hope yet as you can still afford the water vessel you so badly desire.

Here are a few tips through which you can cut down on maintenance and drastically reduce overall boat costs.

Buy Only What You Can Afford to Pay in Cash

This here is a pro-tip. Don’t stretch your budget when making such purchases. Honestly, it isn’t worth it.

While you may be feeling accomplished and excited at the time of purchase, you will not feel the same way when your loan payments are overdue, and the maintenance cost is piling up.

Buy a Smaller Boat or Look at Pre-owned Boats

Buy A Smaller Boat Or Look At Pre-Owned Boats

If you can’t afford to pay in cash, you don’t buy it. Obtaining a loan to buy a boat is an absolute no unless you intend on renting it out and earning from it. If not then, then look at smaller boats.

If it’s just you who plans on using it, then you don’t need a family-sized boat. In fact, it is in your own best interest to just buy one that meets your minimum requirements.

If you do need a family-sized boat, but it doesn’t fit within your budget, then look at some pre-owned options. Often people make impulsive purchases, and when the cost piles up, they decide to sell their barely used vessels.

With a little bit of research and thorough planning, you can definitely find the perfect vessel for you. One that fits within your budget. The rule is if you can’t pay for it in cash, you don’t pay for it at all.

Get to Know Your Boat

One primary reason why boats depreciate so quickly is that they fall in the hands of novices with no idea what to do.

They don’t know how to steer, change oils, or even start the engine. Usually, they end up hiring people to help them with these basic tasks, which proves costly.

However, you can easily give your bank a break here by familiarizing yourself with your boat. Contact the company and ask them to run you through the basics about engine maintenance repairs, oil changes, and other meager daily tasks.

Once you are in charge of your vessel, you will not be fretting about others being negligent towards your prized possession.

Do Your Own Maintenances

Maintaining a boat is like taking care of your car. If you know the basics of automobile care, then you won’t face any problems when taking care of your water vessel. In fact, the engine in smaller sized boats is identical to that in automobiles.

With just a little bit of extra love and care, you will be able to keep your boat purring like a kitten without spending hundreds of dollars on maintenance companies.

When draining engine oil, changing fuel filters and engine belts are all tasks that you can easily undertake, so why pay for them.

Do Not Hire Cleaners

Cleaners are an absolute no-no. They will charge you an arm and a leg for what you can effortlessly manage with a hose, cloth, some soap, and water.

Plus, it allows you to spend a little extra time on your vessel, which makes you realize its importance besides saving you money.

Fill the Tank Out of the Water

Dock fuel is atrociously over-priced and drastically increases the cost of a refuel. However, by topping up your tank out of the water, you can save up a substantial amount of money, and it is quite easy to do it.

When you get the boat out of winter storage, first get it fully refueled before you take it to the docks. Once it’s in the water, you will have no choice but to pay for the outrageously high fuel.

But with a little bit of care, you can avoid doing so by fuelling up before docking.

Find the Lowest Insurance Rates

Insurance rates for boats are just as competitive as they are for cars. While you may not pay heed to a $10 difference on your automobile insurance, it can make a significant difference for your boat.

$10 a month saves $120 a year. You can pay for various repairs and engine servicing sessions using that money.

When trying to cut down on the boat cost, it isn’t about how much money you are saving. You could be saving $5, but that paltry amount can help you cover others because there’s always something that needs fixing on a boat. 

Why Are Boat Motors and Other Parts so Expensive?

Why Are Boat Motors And Other Parts So Expensive?

Boat spare parts are quite expensive as compared to those of automobiles, and that’s because of supply and demand.

Cars are high in market demand, as they are the preferred everyday mode of transportation for the vast majority. In contrast, boats are more of a leisurely vessel used mostly for recreational use.

Despite both car and boat motors being similar in terms of technicality and functionality, there is a huge price gap purely because of supply and demand.

Car spare parts are mass-produced and sold, whereas a boat’s spare parts are not. They are either sparingly produced or made to order, which is why they come attached with a very high price tag.

The make and model of the boat also make a huge difference in the price. A medium to a small-sized boat has a higher demand, whereas family-sized boats and yachts not so much.

A few people can only afford them, and if they can afford one’s upkeep, they can afford to pay for atrociously priced spare parts as well.


A boat is not meant to be an investment unless you intend to earn from it. If you do plan on renting it out, then you won’t mind the taxes, and you will be able to recover its maintenance cost via earnings from the vessel.

But even then, you will not gain much profit from it at the time of resale as no matter what you do or how well-maintained the boat is, it does depreciate and will lose a substantial amount of market value at the end of the first year.

There are ways you can cut down on maintenance and upkeep, reducing the overall boat cost.

So if you are someone who wants to buy one and use it for recreational purposes, then we suggest you diligently follow the tips we have provided.

You can also share your boat with a friend and split the cost to get the most out of your purchase without it becoming an overbearing burden on your pocket.