Cost of Owning A Boat

 A boat is a hole in the water where you dump your money.  The word “boat” stands for “Break out another thousand.” There are many jokes about the cost of owning a boat, and are all too true.

    I have owned nine bass boats over the past 45 years, and all had their good and bad qualities, but all had one thing in common. They cost a lot, from purchasing them to keeping them working and running.

    Boats have improved a lot over those years.  My first boat, a brand new 16-foot Arrowglass with a 70 horsepower two stroke Evinrude motor, cost only $3500 in 1974.  That seems cheap now, many depthfinders and trolling motors cost more than that individually and just the sale tax on a new bass boat can be much higher. 

    That boat was top of the line back then, with one of the biggest outboard available that would push it about 35 mph on a good day, a 12-volt trolling motor, flasher depthfinder, two batteries and a single axle trailer with two narrow 14 inch tires.  It served me well for seven years although I had to have the motor rebuilt twice and made some improvements, adding a paper graph depthfinder to the dash and moving the flasher to the front.

    My current boat is a 20-foot Skeeter with a 250 horsepower Yamaha four stroke motor. I bought it used from Chad Pipkins, an Elite series pro, and it cost just over $50,000.  The list price for it new was in the upper $70,000 range. It came with a 36-volt trolling motor, four batteries, two power poles, four Hummingbird depthfinder, LED lighting around the inside of the gunnel and a dual axle trailer with four 14-inch car size tires.

    This boat will run in the upper 70 mph range if I ever get in a hurry, but I seldom do. It cruises great at 45 to 50 mph.   

    Four stroke motors crank instantly even in cold weather, something always a problem with two stoke motors, and there is no need to add oil to the gas.  I thought that would save me money over time, not having to buy oil, until I had the oil changed in its annual service.

    Last week I towed my Skeeter to Perry’s High-Performance Marine near Gainesville, fighting horrendous traffic both ways.  Perry is the only mechanic I trust to work on my motor, or even service it. He is definitely the best Yamaha mechanic in Georgia, if not the entire Southeast.

    During service them motor is tested on a computer, giving all kinds of information about it.  A couple of things surprised me.  The boat had about 250 hours on the motor, put on it in one year by Chad. I put about 100 hours a year on it and it now has 500 hours on it. I calculate I spend about 7 hours on the trolling motor for every hour on the gas motor.

    In those 500 hours, the computer shows it was run 5,000 to 6,000 rpm only 28 hours, and many of those running 60 plus mph, were put on it by Chad.  Most of the time, 336 hours total, were at less than 1000 rpm, idle speed.  Chad spent most of his time idling around, watching depthfinders, as do it.  At the speed I run, about 40 to 50 mph at 3000 to 4000 rpm, totaled 64 hours.

    In three years, the only problem with the Skeeter is one of the live well pumps burned out.  Perry and the Yamaha folks say if the motor is serviced as scheduled, it should last for several thousand hours, more than I will be able to put on it the rest of my life!

    If you buy a bass boat, expect sticker shock. But be aware that is just the beginning of your expenses!