The real cost of owning a boat

You may have dreamt of owning your own boat since childhood, or started considering it after a few holiday cruises. Before going ahead, there are several costs that should be carefully considered. Here’s a list that will help you estimate to day to day running and maintenance costs of a boat, to ensure that everything goes smoothly!

The cost of mooring a boat

Stationnement d'un bateau

The first thing to consider is how much time you can spend on the boat and how close the boat is to your home. If you have the freedom to come aboard often and do the routine maintenance yourself, the cost will be much lower. The location of the boat is an important consideration, as prices vary greatly depending on the geographical area, proximity to a major city or the type of infrastructure. For a 12-metre river boat on a pontoon in France, you can expect to pay between €70 and €300 per month. In the UK, it is generally about £900 to £1100 per year.

Port equipment and careening

Coûts d’utilisation des équipements portuaires

Choosing a well-equipped port means that you can have the lifting and handling equipment on site to take your boat out of the water. Careening is required every 1 to 3 years and having the equipment available where your boat is based will make a big difference. Grounding will set you back around £130. Launching after work is completed should cost about the same.

If you do the careening work yourself, between the hire of a high-pressure cleaner, a few squeegees, rollers, masking tape and antifouling paint, you will rarely spend more than £250 on supplies (count at least £300 extra to get the job done by a professional) . You can take the opportunity to check the condition of the anodes, which are relatively inexpensive to replace.

Servicing and safety equipment: the routine maintenance

Even if you don’t use your boat often, routine maintenance is essential and your boat will need to be serviced once a year. This includes an oil change, as well as replacing the fuel, oil and air filters. Once again, prices will vary greatly depending on whether you can do the work yourself or call in a professional. You should expect to pay between £120 and £380 per year. If a professional comes from a distance, it’s likely they’ll charge for travel costs in addition to parts and labour.

Don’t forget to regularly replace safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, or batteries, which have a lifespan of about 5 years. That is an average cost of about £250 per year.

How much do boat fuel and licence fees cost?

Prix du carburant pour un bateau

This will depend on how many cruises you do. Even if river boats are generally more fuel-efficient (less than 5 litres per hour) than yachts, the fuel budget is not to be neglected, especially because the waterfront petrol stations often take advantage of their privileged location to charge high rates. If you cruise for 100 hours during the season, this represents about £1000.

Some countries may have additional costs. For example, if your boat is based in France, you’ll also need to pay for a “vignette”, a licence fee paid to Voies Navigables de France for the right to use your boat along the waterways. This is due as soon as the boat is moved to its base. For a 12-metre boat, a day costs €63, while the annual rate is €506. There are several options to choose from, it is up to you to consider the one that best suits your use.

In the UK, there is an environment authority licence that needs to be obtained on an annual basis. The cost depends on the boat length and use, but could be anything from £50 to £484 per month.

How much does boat insurance cost?

Coût de l'assurance d'un bateau

Insurance is a very important cost to consider when buying a boat. Even if it is not compulsory, many ports require the boat to be covered by a liability insurance before they’ll accept it. This will cost between 1 and 2% of the boat's market value per year, i.e. around £1,500 per year for a boat worth £100,000.

Most companies require a survey before covering a boat of a certain age. This is a wise precaution anyway, as it gives you an estimate of the condition and real value of your boat. They survey will set you back around £700.

The yearly cost of owning a boat

Coût annuel d'un bateau

In total, and if we do not take into account unforeseen circumstances or the improvements that you will be tempted to make on the boat, the costs described above amount to an estimated budget of £5300/year. Of course, it’s possible to lower this cost, for example by doing most of the maintenance yourself, but the average amount that a boat owner should expect to have to spend on their boat.

In addition to this, if you wish to change cruising area at any point, this may require road transportation which can cost around £750, depending on the size of the boat.

Is it more cost effective to buy or rent a boat?

Such costs can put a lot of people off, so should you buy a boat or just keep renting? It all depends on how much you’d use your own boat! If you see a boat as a floating, nomadic home base and have the time and skills to look after it, don't hesitate. If, on the other hand, you want to cruise where you want and without constraints, chartering may be best for you.

Le Boat’s Ownership Programme: an alternative to buying a boat privately


Le Boat offers an alternative ownership solution thanks to our Ownership Program formula, which has many advantages, not least the fact that all maintenance costs are covered by us!


What does it involve? Buy the boat that suits you, new or second-hand, and you leave it in the hands of the charter company. We’ll take care of the rental, maintenance and running costs. In return, you’ll receive an income of 6% of the value of the boat per year. The program is designed to last for 7 years, after which you can choose to extend the contract, sell or recover the boat. Most importantly, during the program you have an average of 8 weeks of cruising time per year on your boat or from a base of your choice.

As you can see, there are several ways of considering owning a boat, depending on its use, your means and the time you can devote to it. The most obvious solutions are not necessarily the best or the least expensive. For example, for "pleasure" use without constraints, an Ownership Programme offers many advantages to limit or even erase all the costs associated with the boat.