Ownership Costs

Affordability Myths & Tips

Boat Buying

The best two days of your life is the day you buy a boat and the day you sell it.

The best two days of your life come every weekend when you take the boat out with family and friends!

Admit it—you’ve watched people in boats enjoying themselves out on the water and thought "I wish I was out there." Well, it’s time to stop wishing and start boating, because NOW is a great time to buy a boat! Why, you ask?

Why? Dealers want to sell boats, and they’ll be happy to work with you on special offers and the best deals to get you the boat of your dreams. There’s no time like the present. Boating is the perfect way to spend quality time with family and friends—and that’s an investment that never loses its value.

Any boater will tell you, boating is the last great thing they’d give up if their budget were unexpectedly restricted. That says a lot about its value.

I can’t afford a boat.

You can finance a boat, just like a car and often for much longer terms. — in fact, you can own a new boat for as little as $250 month!* In 2012, the average retail price of an outboard boat was $20,387. The average retail price of an outboard boat package (boat,engine and trailer) was $32,795. But here’s the best part: Many excellent boat, motor, trailer packages are available for as little as $15,000.

Loans under $25,000 are based on 7.5% for 12 years.*

Boats provide tax deductible and cost effective second homes. Interest on a boat loan can be deducted if the boat has a galley, berth and head.*

*Source: NMBA For more information, click here.

Boat insurance is too expensive.

Boat insurance costs vary by boat length and type, cost of the boat and level of coverage and area of operation. It’s easy to get a quote from your current agent or compare rates online. Some smaller boats can be insured for a nominal sum as a rider on a homeowner’s policy.

You can kill two birds with one stone, improve boating skills and reducee the cost of marine insurance premiums by taking a boater’s education course.

See also: Insurance Tips.

I can’t afford to store my boat.

Storage options vary depending on the size of your boat. You won’t find a less-expensive way to keep a boat than storing it on a trailer in your driveway, garage or backyard. Larger boats can be surprisingly inexpensive to store in “drystack marinas” where they are kept in secure facilities until you call for it and, usually in a matter of minutes, it can be waiting dockside for you. When you are all through with the boat, toss the keys to your marine operator. He’ll wash it down and stow it securely away.

Maintenance & upkeep is expensive.

Boat, trailer, and motor maintenance can be as simple as a freshwater wash down after each use. Keeping everything covered between adventures will also help keep maintenance costs at bay.

Costs for routine maintenance vary by region, but for more involved services, such as oil changes and winterizing, expect to pay what you would for your car on an hourly basis.

See also: Maintenance Tips and Checklist.

Boats use too much fuel.

Nearly 95 percent of boats on the water today are less than 26' in length. These crafts are fitted with newer fuel efficient motors that minimize fuel costs.

Keep in mind, fishing, swimming or just hanging out a sandbars and islands with friends are the most popular boating activities and they don’t require fuel beyond that used to get to your favorite spot. If you own a sailboat, the motor is used even less—usually just to depart or return to port.

Higher fuel prices do look discouraging but in truth they present only a small marginal increase in the operating cost of your boat. For owners of smaller boats that may use 20 gallons of fuel or less per trip, a 50 cent increase in a gallon of fuel means a boater will spend only $10 more their outing. Even if you’re into cruising and plan to use 100 gallons in a weekend, the incremental cost is only about $50 more.

See also: Fuel Tips.

Boating is hard to learn.

Boating is not difficult, but driving a boat, like anything else, is a skill. You can learn the U.S.Coast Guard Navigation Rules by taking a boater’s education course. That experience in itself will be fun and offer you the chance to meet like-minded boaters.

Some dealers offer on-the-water training upon delivery to help your learn how to use your boat. Most marinas and dealerships have a network of captains or experienced boaters you can hire to show you the ropes on your own boat. The skills you’ll most likely need to practice will be docking, launching and retrieving your boat. Professional instruction is the best way for any new boating family to learn the correct skills and develop the team spirit that enhances the fun.


I don’t have access to water.

Did you know that nearly ninety percent of Americans live less than an hour from a navigable body of water? This means that water access is a lot closer and more convenient than you might think. To find place to boat near you, please visit our boat marinas and ramps page.


Tips for Buying on a Budget

Have a Plan

Know what you want and what you can afford. Do your financial homework and run a budget --- before you buy a boat. It’s the smart thing to do and will save you a lot of time. Be sure to allow for general maintenance, storage, insurance and other important add-on products you may require such as extended warranties.

Shop New First

It might sound counter-intuitive, but as with a car, there are pros and cons to both new and pre-owned boats. When buying boats, we recommend shopping new first even if you’re on a tight budget, for a number of reasons:

  • Pre-owned boats cost less than new
  • Monthly payment will be less
  • Cost of insurance will be less
  • The depreciation curve has flattened out

Visit a Boat Show

Visit a local boat show. Take a look at all available options and board as many boats as you can. Discuss your wants and needs with dealers and experts at the boat show; they will answer any questions you may have about specific boat types and help you choose the one that will fit your needs and desires. For a list of boat and sport shows in your area, please visit our Boat Show Calendar.

Financing Your Boat

Boat buyers have many choices when it comes to paying for their purchase. Here are a few of the advantages of financing your purchase through your dealer with a National Marine Lenders Association marine lending specialist:

  • Competitive rates - Interest rates for boat loans continue to trend near historic lows in the US.
  • Faster credit decisions—because you are working with lenders in the marine industry who lenders understand boats and their buyers. You can apply for a loan this morning and be boating this afternoon.
  • More electronics and extras—marine lending specialists will allow you to finance optional equipment, electronics, extended service plans and life/disability insurance coverage with your purchase.
  • Financing your boat purchase usually means you can afford a newer, larger or more powerful boat, a better trailer and all the gear that it takes to make boating safer and more enjoyable!
  • Federal income tax deductions—If a boat qualifies as a residence for purposes of deducting interest expenses on a residence* a taxpayer can deduct any qualified interest for the tax year. **

*Under Internal Revenue Code 163

**Source: NMLA For more information, click here.