Do You Need or Want to Own a Boat?
I have wanted to own a boat ever since I watched Sonny Crockett from the 1980s TV crime drama Miami Vice sail his in style. It’s funny how the pop culture representations of materialistic objects can affect a viewer’s mindset. I was only a child at the time, but the idea of owning a boat seemed like the coolest thing ever to me. It’s kind of like how most people want to own something without considering the cost of ownership.
Or, ownership maintenance. I had no idea that it is not a good idea to sail a boat in wintry weather. Or, that like a car, you had to prep it properly for weeks or months of inactivity. Maintaining a boat requires a lot of financial and physical effort. One of my friends, whom I invite over for a beer and to watch a ball game every now then, laughed out loud when I told him my dream of boat ownership. He told me that unless I loved the sea or was a mariner at heart, it a bad idea. T
he novelty of owning one wears off after a few weeks. And, that even though you buy a boat, it ends up owning you.
A boat will incrementally own your time, money, attention, and the constant need for you to physically maintain it. Kind of like a house or car. My friend said that the word, “boat,” becomes an acronym for owners over time. As in, “break out another thousand.”
An average outboard boat package, featuring a boat at least 26 feet in length, engine, and trailer, can cost at least $32,000. That could be the down payment on a home. Or, payment for a brand-new car. You can also purchase a decent outboard boat package for a least $15,000. If that is pricey, you can get a personal loan for $25,000 or more at 7.5% interest. You must get boat insurance, just as you would for a car or a house. Then you have to worry about fueling, storage, winterizing, and docking costs. Everything adds up over time.
Then there is the fact that you have to get used to maneuvering a boat. And I don’t just mean in the water. Driving and towing a boat on an attached trailer efficiently, and without damaging it, takes time and practice. If you live more than half an hour from a body of water, then you risk damaging your boat every time you tow it somewhere. Also, if you can’t pay for docking fees, imagine a boat taking up more space in your garage than your car.
You should also keep in mind that a lot of homeowner association guidelines forbid homeowners from parking a boat on a trailer in driveways or in front of garages. Also, when you go boating, you need supplies. Food, coolers, fishing rods, and anything else that you will need for a trip. That means that every time you go out and come back, supplies have to be hauled onto and then off of the boat.
I am not saying that you should never go boating in your lifetime. You can get your boating license and have the freedom to take to open water whenever it fancies you. If that is what you really want. Renting just might be the better, affordable, and more practical option.
Allen Francis was an academic advisor, librarian, and college adjunct for many years with no money, no financial literacy, and no responsibility when he had money. To him, the phrase “personal finance,” contains the power that anyone has to grow their own wealth. Allen is an advocate of best personal financial practices including focusing on your needs instead of your wants, asking for help when you need it, saving and investing in your own small business.