May 05 2022 All Articles

​Tricks and tips to save money and make boating more affordable

Tricks and tips to save money and make boating more affordable


Want a boat but feel you can’t afford to run one… or know someone who feels that way? Already own a boat, but are concerned about all the costs involved? This concern may be especially relevant given the cost of fuel these days.

Follow a tip or 10 and you may well find the figures make boat ownership totally plausible – these include a few regarding those topical fuel cost concerns.

The team at Discover Boating has provided 10 tips to help you decide how to manage boat ownership expenses in the most cost-effective way. In synopsis, these are:

  1. Take tax deductions (things to consider include, for example: does your boat count for a second home mortgage interest deduction; does it qualify as a business expense; do you use it to commute?)
  2. Run your boat at its most efficient cruising speed to save fuel
  3. Consider fractional ownership – you don’t have to own 100 percent of a boat
  4. Keep the boat, and its power system, well maintained
  5. Take a boater’s education course – the better educated you are the less likely you are to make a costly mistake
  6. Consider boat storage options – shop around. Or, buy a trailer and store your boat rent-free at home
  7. Tackle some repair and maintenance work yourself – this pertains to minor chores like washing and waxing your boat, winterising it, oil and fuel filter changes, and installing new accessories 
  8. Fuel up on land (if your boat is on a trailer). Fuel costs are usually substantially higher at marinas
  9. Assess your insurance options. While insurance is certainly a cost of ownership, it’s also the best way to prevent having to cover large, unexpected expenses
  10. Join a peer-to-peer boat sharing marketplace to defray the cost

Check out the Discover Boating website for explanations regarding all of the above.

A recent post on the Boating NZ website focuses on the impact the current devastating situation in Ukraine has on fuel prices. “For New Zealanders, that translates to pain at the fuel pump and marina bowser,” says the author (John Eichelsheim) who offers saving fuel advice. “There are many ways to reduce the fuel bill. Slowing down is one. Just backing off the throttle by a few hundred rpm can save a lot of fuel and every vessel has a sweet spot where speed, fuel burn, and distance covered align. “Likewise, boating in rough conditions uses more fuel, so avoid it if you can, and don’t overload the vessel – more weight equals more fuel burnt. Another fuel saver is trimming the boat for optimal performance,” John advises.

He reminds readers that sharing the cost of fuel is acceptable amongst those heading out for a day on the water – it’s not just up to the boat owner to cough up. This makes a day on the boat affordable for all.
Further to the fuel discussion, other boating websites suggest boaties shop around for price-competitive pumps, ask about loyalty cards, use shopper dockets, buy in bulk if tanks allow it, and join a boating club where member discounts are a benefit.

Myboatlife.com writer Diane Seltzer has written an article dedicated to ways in which boaters can spend less money and still enjoy recreational boating without any budget-breaking. “It’s no secret that boating costs money,” she says. “You need to have a certain amount of discretionary income to enjoy the lifestyle, but you certainly don’t need to be rich if you are smart about how you boat.”

So how do you make boating affordable enough to fit into your budget?
 
Buy a used boat, not a new one, she advises. As with a car, a new boat purchase has a steep depreciation in value over the first few years. Is boat size a deal-breaker? If you are happy with a smaller boat then, yes, this will cost less - consider the savings you’ll get in slip fees, winter storage, and fuel alone. Your marina location choice could also be a money saver - it may be time to shop around for a new marina to find slip rental or high and dry storage savings, Diane advises. And, of course, there are boat maintenance considerations – if you are handy, DIY boat maintenance will yield a lot of savings (if you know what you are doing!)

She also shares fuel-saving ideas to keep costs lower:

  • Shorter boat trips – cut back on your number of longer boat cruises and explore coves and nearby marinas more
  • More anchoring – you can save money by dropping the hook and anchoring out for the day with some friends rather than cruising around on your boat (and sometimes that is even more fun!)
  • Group excursions – take some friends on your next trip and split the costs or take turns on the cost of fuel by hopping onboard your boat one weekend and then their boat the next
  • Timing with the tide – following the tide in and out will help you save fuel and may even help get you to your destination faster.

The improvesailing.com website acknowledges that storage, operation, repairs, equipment, and maintenance are the categories that run up the bills. If you can cut costs in these areas then you’re likely to get more bang for your boating dollar.
  
Ideas shared are: Use moorings instead of slips, store your boat in a cheaper location, avoid fake ‘marine’ label products, buy second-hand where possible, build your maintenance skills and do small maintenance jobs yourself, prepare any professional jobs yourself (the mundane tasks that can be done before the professional takes over), sail instead of motoring (it is a sailing website), get the right insurance, and don’t break things (take a little extra time and care).
 
The author offers insider tips to save money on boat ownership. There is one, he says, “that will save hundreds of dollars alone, and some are so easy you won't believe it”. He also offers advice on a few things not to do, as these may cost more in the long run, and stresses that skipping liability insurance is a bad move.

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