Rick Channon crunches the numbers to find out exactly how much five years of entry-level cruising has cost him…
Over the last five years, I’ve covered 1,675nm in Greyfin – the equivalent of circumnavigating the UK and Ireland. So I thought it would be a good time to do a full review of my costings, so that those who are new to boating can get a firm grasp of the kind of financial commitment a compact multi-purpose family sportsboat involves.
The ideal boat
Greyfin is a 2015 Beneteau Antares 8. Though billed as a sportsfish boat or family weekender, I would consider her an entry-level cruiser. She is 8m (27ft) long and weighs about 3,000kg, loaded with fuel, water and equipment.
She has a 200hp Nanni Diesel motor (a marinised 3-litre Toyota Land Cruiser engine) and is shaft driven by a 4-blade bronze propeller through a ZF gearbox.
She has a shallow keel for directional stability and is, in spite of her sporty looks, a semi-displacement vessel with a top speed of 20 knots and a cruising speed of 15 knots. For those looking for more performance, there is also an outboard version with a full planing hull.
For a small boat, Greyfin is well equipped. She features a practical galley, a comfortable heads with shower and a decent size cabin and cockpit. She also comes with heating, an electric windlass, hot and cold water, a bow thruster and a swim shower.
In other words, she has all the basic essentials for long weekends on board without being overly complicated – and that’s exactly what I need.
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I keep Greyfin on a swinging mooring at Mylor in Cornwall and she spends the winter months on the hard, under a cover. I use her a lot, at least once a week in the summer, and I usually spend a night or two on board.
In fact, over the last five years, I’ve spent 300 days and more than 130 nights on Greyfin, most of them at anchor around Cornwall’s beautiful coastline.
So, what has all of that entertainment cost me? Well that’s quite easy for me to answer, as I run a separate bank account for my boat running costs. I’ve spent £24,500 over five years, which is roughly £5k a year.
That includes all the major boat maintenance items and it falls neatly into line with the old adage that annual boat running costs will be around 10% of the boat’s value.
At just over £2,000 a year, mooring fees are my largest annual expense but that includes winter storage in the yard, a water taxi to and from my boat, car parking, dinghy storage and harbour dues, all of which would cost a lot more if paid for separately.
If I kept my boat in the marina, I would be paying double and, even within the same estuary, costs can vary a great deal depending on the convenience of the mooring and the authority administering it. But I am in quite an expensive area and on a very practical mooring so I’m happy with the set-up.
I am an advocate of thorough maintenance so at around £1,250 per year, another quarter of my annual spend goes on engine upkeep. My costs may seem low to some people but a single-engined shaft-driven boat definitely sits at the more economical end of the scale.
Outboards tend to be a bit cheaper and inboards on outdrives would be a bit more. I also change the belts, filters, oil and impellers every year and have now done all the major jobs within this five-year window. These include replacing the cutlass bearing, cambelt and water pump and stripping the raw water system to clean the heat exchangers.
The fuel bill
My fuel spend over five years has come as a major surprise. It’s cost me £1,300 for 1,175 litres to cover 1,675nm over 360 engine hours. That equates to 3.3l/h or around 0.7l/Nm.
Interestingly, if I drove my car for the same amount of time, I would use the same amount of fuel. I would of course travel a lot further (10,800 miles @ 30mph and 40mpg) but since time on board rather than distance covered is my boating priority, my fuel consumption at cruising speed is reassuringly low.
If you prefer to zip around more rapidly, then you might easily increase that fuel spend from £1,300 to nearer £3,000. But with my fuel accounting for just 5% of my total spend, I’m content that I’m getting things pretty much right.
Additional boat running costs
Other consumables include shore power to keep the boat dry and warm throughout the winter. They also include gas for cooking and batteries and anodes, the majority of which I seem to replace each year. Yard costs should not be forgotten either, as they do add up – in my case to about £500 per year.
There are the launch and haul-out charges and, as I get older, I tend to do less of the basic maintenance myself so in addition to the occasional hull wax and polish, I also get the yard to antifoul my boat at the start of the season and pressure wash her at the end.
One cost I haven’t included in my figures though are the boating water toys you inevitably acquire over the years, such as paddleboards and canoes. And like the toys, boat customisation has also been omitted from my costings because, to my mind, that represents a hobby in its own right.
In fact, many of the items on my boat are Christmas presents from family who have been grateful for the chance to give me something other than socks and slippers.
But potential boaters beware. Though boat ownership might look pretty affordable from the table of figures above, you will find that a new boat is merely a starting point for all kinds of items you didn’t know you needed!
First published in the May 2023 issue of MBY.
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