Most people think of boating as a super pricey hobby, but in fact, the often quoted comparison is that the average sized boat in Australia, which is under 7.5 meters, costs about the same to run as a car.
Actually it’s probably a fair bit more expensive, as you’ll probably use your boat much less often and in much harsher conditions. Given that, before you lash out and buy one it makes sense to check out the ongoing costs of boat ownership that you need to factor in over and above the purchase price.
These guidelines are for average size runabouts, walk-arounds, cabin cruisers, trailer sailers and small game boats and will only increase as the boat increases in size and complexity.
As a ballpark figure, expect to pay around a minimum of $20,000/year to own a boat in Australia, and that’s excluding petrol usage. Here’s the breakdown for those costs:
How Much Does a Boat Cost?
To enjoy Sydney’s beautiful waterways you can invest in a 3 or 4 m dinghy or a 5o m super yacht or anything beyond or in between. You can purchase new or used. You can share a boat or you can join a boat club. Lifestyle experience and budget will be the determining factor. For more information about boat costs only in NSW, read about our buying a boat in NSW guide.
Before you launch you’ll need some essential items if not already included with your purchase including:
- Life jackets – average cost $75
- An emergency position indicating radio beacon – average cost $300
- Marine flares – average cost $200
- Fire extinguisher – average cost $35
- A GPS – average cost $1200
- Tender – average cost $3000
- Mooring lines – average cost $100
- If you’re planning to go more than five nautical miles off the coast you’ll also need a marine radio – average cost $250
- A boat trailer – between $1500 and $6000 and may be much more or you will need to source a mooring or marina berth from $6000 to $24000 pa (depending on size of your vessel and location this could be even more)
For more information on the kind of equipment you may need download a list a copy of the Maritime Handbook (NSW).
Equipment & Accessories
In addition to the basics above there is an abundance of equipment and accessories available that can be purchased in order to maximise your experience – lily pads, stand up paddle boards and other water toys, fishing gear, motors for tenders, additional lines and fenders etc
Boat Maintenance Costs
To get the most use from your boat it needs to be ready for an impromptu cruise at all times. If it is not, then you are missing out on one of the true benefits of boat ownership. Preventative maintenance will ensure your boat will always be available in an instant, be it for entertaining a client, a twilight cruise, scooting across to your favourite anchorage or mooring for the weekend, a friends birthday, or just because it is a beautiful day…perfect for boating. Cleaning your boat can be a real hassle if your boat is not used regularly and can certainly take away some of the enjoyment.
Prices of boat maintenance vary depending on location, age and size of the boat and engine, but ballpark costs for an annual service is between $2000 and $4000.
Expect to pay more for time consuming items such as salt water cooling services, transmission service, anti-fouling and shipwright or electrical repairs. You also need to factor in the cost of slipping when your boat has to be removed from the water for service.
It’s recommended that you get your engine/engines serviced based on manufacturers specifications but this should be done at least once per year or when you reach the specified number of hours which ever comes first
If you are qualified to do maintenance yourself, then that will obviously keep the costs down.
Keeping your boat covered and washing it down regularly with fresh water can also reduce the impact and associated costs of salt and weather.
Boat Registration Costs – Regulation & Licence Fees
These vary state by state. Powerboats with an engine capacity of more than 5 horsepower, sailing vessels over 5.5 metres, jet-ski’s and all vessels that are moored or berthed at a marina must be registered when occupying most Australian waters.
Check with your state or territory regulations for costs and details.
Boat Fuel Costs
Most boats of 7.5 m or less won’t require huge amounts of fuel, especially if they’re yachts. However the amount of fuel you use on any given journey will depend upon, the size of the boat, the size of the engine/s, the weather conditions, the distance and the speed you are travelling.If you have a bigger boat and more horsepower then fuel can start to be very expensive. Many newer marine engines let you monitor fuel consumption electronically so you can optimize fuel efficiency.
If your boat is trailable then fuel will be purchased at road side service stations and the price will be determined by the current fuel costs. If your boat is berthed at a marina or moored you will need to purchase fuel from a serviced marina and this is usually at a higher cost due to environmental levies and lesser volumes being purchased by the marina compared to road side service stations. Be aware that you are not allowed to bring your own fuel onto the marina.
As a guide and as of October 2022 for diesel you will pay from $2.00 to $2.50 per ltr. For unleaded you will pay between $1.80 and $2.20 per ltr.
The cost of boat insurance, like car insurance varies by the size and make of the boat being insured and the level of coverage you want. Look for insurance that protect your vessel on and off the water. Most insurance companies offer a marine hull insurance policy however the most popular boat insurance companies come from Club Marine, Nautilus and Pantaenius. Expect to pay around onwards of $300.
Cost of Berthing and Mooring
There are several options for storing your boat depending on its type and size.
If you’ve got the space, a driveway or garage is an easy option for a smaller boat and it will save you, because boat storage can be very expensive. You need to remember when purchasing a trailable boat that the govt will not allow you to park it roadside. Penalties apply.
There are dry stack and rack options at most marinas and costs range from around $600 per month and are limited to boats under 37 feet or 11 m in length. If your boat is larger or you use it a lot check out a marina berth or permanent mooring options. Mooring and marina berthing costs again vary enormously depending on location, size and whether it’s a private of public facility. Fees start at around $500 a month for a simple mooring and can be up in the thousands at popular locations.
Marina Berth costs will also depend on location and size and vary between $2000 and $10000 per month for boats up to 50 feet or 14m
The Marinas Guide is a great resource that provides information on every single berthing option in Australia, whether it’s a marina berth, swing mooring or dry stack facility.
Of course if all of these costs are mounting up and making ownership unaffordable there are boat share or syndication options which allow you to purchase a share of the boat which will then reduce all the above costs depending on your share. Another option would be to join a boat club. Pacific Boating is Sydney’s finest. It operates from locations on Sydney Harbour and Pittwater, offers a fleet of luxury sports cruisers, walk on walk off service, no on going maintenance or berthing costs plus comprehensive training….and your boat is clean and ready to go when you are. From as little as $2095 per month you could be cruising in style and minimize the costs and the hassle and maximise the boating enjoyment.
Not sure whether you want to buy your own…look at a membership as a ‘try before you buy option’, or learn more about the difference between boat club, boat syndicate and boat rental.
Click to read more to see How It Works..it may be the best solution for you!
Happy Boating !