Should YOU Buy a Boat?

Although we live in the Midwest US, every weekend (and weekday during summer months) we see folks in their pickups hauling boats on trailers. There are boat shows, boats at Cabella’s, boat manufacturers and lots of people whose main recreation is ‘going to the lake’.

My growing up family were definitely land lubbers. We didn’t own boats, we hardly ever went swimming and the only fishing we did was in the small farm pond, with bamboo poles, a hook with a wiggler strung on it.

The few times I did get to go on the water were great! My friend’s parents owned a house at the lake, complete with boat. They took me for the weekend and helped me learn how to water ski. When vacationing, I always try to include some kind of boat tour. A few years ago, when selecting a vacation home to buy, one of my criteria was that it had to be at a lake or on a beach. We went with a resort area that has both a lake and other attractions to draw vacationers to the area. I love getting out on the water and getting in the water, but I do not own a boat.

We own a lake front property, yet do not own a boat. Do you wonder why?

Here are my reasons for not purchasing a boat. You may have very good reasons for purchasing! If so, please comment below.

Boat ownership can be incredibly expensive.

Even according to boating sites, like Discover Boating, the costs are high:

“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.”

Those figures probably don’t include initial outlays for things such as a tarp to cover the boat when not in use; safety gear for all boat passengers; necessary electronics, such as GPS (so you don’t get lost), radio (to call for help) and sonar (to find those rocks and fish).

Then, you would also need the gear that makes having and using a boat fun. Fishing equipment, tow ropes, skis or tubes, as well as special equipment for the boat (coolers, ladders, anchors, etc).

According to a  boat owner forum:

The ongoing costs of boat ownership can be quite high. One boat owner estimated that you should expect to pay 3 times what you think you will to include these ‘hidden’ costs. These will include things such as insurance, property taxes, gasoline (to get to the lake and to boat on the lake), maintenance, boat slip fees and storage fees in off season. Perhaps you live on the water, if so, you may decide to add your own dock – which may incur other fees such as licensing from an agency, electricity, etc. If you keep your boat at the lake in your dock, you may decide to go for a boat lift, to haul it up out of the water when you aren’t there – more expense.

One owner even said:

“The purchase of the boat itself is always the cheapest part of boat ownership in the long run.”

Unless you live close by or can sleep on your boat, there is also the expense of lodging in the area where you want to boat.

Boats depreciate, just like cars.

You can’t count on getting even the purchase price back – let alone all of the ongoing expenses you outlaid. During the great recession, I’ve heard that folks were just dumping their boats in isolated waterways – to avoid those ongoing costs. No one was buying used boats during the recession.

Boat ownership means time spent.

Each of the driver’s of those pickups I see going down the road hauling their boat trailers spent time just getting their equipment ready to roll – hitching the trailer to the truck, getting the boat onto the trailer, hooking up the lights, horns, etc.

Those owners also spent time (or money, or both) on boat maintenance.

Discover Boating suggested that maintenance after every trip included 8 things to do and another different 7 things to do as part of regular maintenance. Winterizing the boat required tasks in yet another 10 areas.

Not all family members like boating.

The rest of my family members aren’t ‘lake people’.

Of the 8 members in my immediate family, only 3 will even go in the lake water. Everyone will ride in the boat, but they won’t swim or tube or ski.

It can get really hot out on a boat if you don’t hit the water.

Since all they like to do is tour, renting a boat for a couple of hours gives most what they want in a boat ride. We can rent a pontoon boat at the marina for 2 hours for $139 at our lake – and it comes with all of those safety things needed for all passengers.

You might be surprised that, according to the Miami Herald, of the 12.2 million boats registered in the US, in 2012 the average boat got used 26 days a year.  We don’t go to the lake every weekend.

Because my hubby doesn’t really dig lake activities, and wants to stay home most of the time, we don’t get down to the lake more than a few times a year. We rent it out during the hot season. I even have trouble getting my grown kids to gather there.

So why buy?

Still, owning a boat has appeal – a large emotional pull for many people. It is one of the signs that you are doing well (or at least have good credit). Boating is fun.

For some, it can make financial sense – if you live at water’s edge and use it every day, or build a business around it.

This summer I’m renting a kayak and a canoe to see if my old back can stand those activities…. maybe….if all goes well…..after all, I could store it at the condo inside and let the renters use it too!

What are your thoughts on owning a boat?


Should YOU Buy a Boat? — 2 Comments

  1. I drove boats in my youth, and it has been a while since that time, I think it is time for me to finally buy a boat. It’s just too much fun!

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