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  • Writer's pictureBoat Town

What costs should you be prepared for as a boat owner?

Owning a boat involves various costs beyond the initial purchase price. While we don't want to scare you away from a purchase – because there are certainly ways to cut these costs, save yourself from spending some of them in general, and additional ways to make boating more cost effective – it's important to be prepared and have all of the information.


Here are some of the most common expenses associated with boat ownership:



Maintenance and Repairs:

Regular maintenance is crucial to keep your boat in good condition. This includes tasks like cleaning, engine servicing, hull maintenance, and other repairs. Our biggest piece of advice when it comes to maintenance and repairs is to spend some time talking to the service department – our team is trained and certified in these types of preparations and projects.


At the end of the day, just like the vehicle you drive daily, the better care you take of your boat, the longer it will last you and the fewer repair costs you'll end up needing to deal with. The best thing you can do for your boat is run it regularly and follow the service scheduled outlined in your owners' manual.


One thing to consider in your purchasing journey when it comes to cost of maintenance is whether or not the boat you're considering still has time remaining on the warranty, how long that warranty lasts, and – in the case of pre-owned units – can it be transferred to the new owner's name (in this case, you!). In addition, with pre-owned units specifically – it's important to purchase from trustworthy sources. Most dealerships, such as Boat Town, provide a full service inspection upon taking a unit on trade. This includes a full oil and filter change, compression test, and more. Unless full maintenance records can be provided by the seller, it's super important to have these verification tests performed to ensure maximum reliability of your unit.


Lastly, when it comes to maintenance and repairs – just remember that boats are boats, and depending on how much strain they are put under, there are bound to be little things that pop up over time, not to mention the potential for accidents and simple user-error mistakes.


Insurance:

Boat insurance covers potential liabilities, damages, theft, and other risks associated with owning and operating a boat. The cost of insurance can vary based on factors such as the type of boat, its value, and where it will be used. Boat Town has recommendations for marine insurance with very reasonable rates and great coverage. We always recommend working with insurance companies that specialize in marine to avoid confusion and lack of coverage in the event of an accident or necessary repair. It is required to have insurance on your watercraft, just as it's required to have on your vehicle, so be sure to look into this throughout the purchase process and ask questions if you need guidance!


Docking/Storage Fees:

If you don't keep your boat at home, you'll likely need to pay for a marina slip, dry storage, or mooring. The cost depends on factors like location, size of the boat, and amenities provided by the marina. There are various options across Central Texas, ranging from as low as $100 per month up to the triple digits.


Registration and Documentation:

You'll need to register your boat with the appropriate government agency, which may have associated fees. (Documentation is required for larger vessels used in international waters.) Registering your watercraft is what gives you your unique set of "TX Numbers" in Texas, which are required to be displayed on the side of your boat, along with your updated registration sticker. Some areas also require that you keep your registration card on board, so we recommend making sure it has a safe place in the glovebox of your boat.


Fuel:

Operating a boat requires fuel, and the cost will vary based on the type and size of the boat, as well as how often and how far you use it. It will also depend on the location you prefer for fueling – on-water fuel stations always charge a premium – along with the type of fuel required. Be sure to refer to your owners manual to see fuel recommendations and whether or not premium fuel is recommended or even (in some cases) required.


Towing and Trailering:

If you transport your boat on a trailer, you'll need a vehicle capable of towing it, and you may incur costs for trailer maintenance, storage, and permits for towing. At Boat Town, most of our units don't necessarily come with a trailer, so be sure to explain to your salesperson whether or not you'll be needing one based on your storage situation. We offer on-water deliveries for people who have docks or keep their boat at a marina, but are also happy to sell the trailer at a minimal margin to make sure we can take care of you.


Winterizing/Storage:

If you live in a climate with cold winters, you'll need to winterize your boat to protect it from freezing temperatures. This might involve shrink-wrapping, de-winterizing in the spring, and storing it in a secure location. In Texas, while *most* winters don't have drastic freezes, we all remember February of 2021 when most of the state lost power for prolonged periods. These winters, while few and far between, are bad news when it comes to those watercraft, especially if they have not been properly winterized. Most of the time, in Texas, winterizing is a simple draining of water and flushing out your engine block and all associated hoses and impeller pumps, with a few extra steps in some cases. Talk to our service department for questions on winterizing and what it entails.


Equipment and Accessories:

You may need to purchase safety equipment, navigation tools, fishing gear, water sports equipment, and other accessories depending on your activities and preferences. Of course, most of these are optional, but you will always want to make sure to at least have the required equipment to be legal! This includes life jackets for everyone on board. So if you plan to have twelve people on board, you better have twelve CGA life vests!


Taxes:

Depending on your location, there may be sales tax associated with purchasing a boat, and there could be annual property taxes or use fees. If you're trading in your boat, it will help save you on sales tax by only charging tax on the difference in purchase price, rather than the entire cost of the new boat, so be sure to ask about that!


Boating Education and Licenses:

Some regions require boating education courses or licenses to operate a boat legally. These may come with associated costs. In Texas, a boating license is required to operate a watercraft for anyone born after September 1st, 1993. Luckily, the fee associated with taking the course and obtaining the license (upon passing) is usually only $50 or less, and is a one-time fee.


Upgrades and Improvements:

Over time, you may want to make upgrades or modifications to your boat to improve its functionality, appearance, or safety features. Again, most of these (unless they fall under the maintenance and repair category) are usually optional.


Mooring Gear and Docking Accessories:

You may need to purchase anchors, lines, fenders, and other equipment for safe and secure mooring. At Boat Town, sometimes we are able to throw these extras in as part of the purchase of your boat, which helps off-set the additional expense.


It's important to budget for these ongoing costs to ensure that you can enjoy your boat safely and responsibly. Keep in mind that these expenses can vary widely based on factors like the type of boat, its age, and how you use it. If you have questions on what's recommended, how this plays into the purchasing experience, or any other concerns about the best way to take care of your watercraft – give us a call!

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