Expected cost of ownership So much of a surveyor’s responsibility is tied to not only protecting your safety and vessel soundness on the water, but also your financial interest. Quite often new owners believe the cost of ownership is much lower than it actually is. Don’t be surprised when you start filling those small stress cracks in the deck with $100 bills. According to David Pascoe, one respected member of the marine surveying community (now retired), the average annual cost of ownership (not including lien or boat loan payments) is as follows:
Vessel AgeYearly Upkeep 1 -5 Years 8% Purchase Price 5-10 Years 12% Purchase Price 10-15 Years 15% Purchase Price 16-25 Years 18% Purchase Price
These projected costs of ownership are average at best, and variance in either direction would not be entirely uncommon. The numbers should not dissuade anyone from purchasing a used boat, buying new can be just as painful. Many pre-loved boats on the market do in-fact represent a great value if inspected properly.
Cautionary words about bilge pumps Bilge pumps can give off a false sense of security. Most are wired with a 3 position switch ON, OFF and AUTOMATIC. When set to AUTOMATIC, the pump is activated by a float switch that turns on when water level in the bilge lifts it to the ON position, then OFF when the water level recedes (this is when everything is working properly). However, float switches commonly get stuck in the ON position and not shut off. The result is draining of the boat's battery that can easily result in sinking. Unfortunately, bilge pumps are sometimes selected on price vs. "head." Head being defined as the specification of how high the pump will lift water to discharge it from the bilge. Volume is how many gallons per hour the pump can discharge on a continuous basis. Because the two terms are inter-related one can imagine the pump will NOT always discharge at the manufacturer's rated "volume." On a powerboat, it is unusual for a pump to have to lift water more than a couple feet, compared to 4 or 5 feet on a deep keeled cruising sailboat (which will significantly reduce the manufacturers rated gallons per hour). Author Dan Spurr points out in his book Upgrading the Cruising Sailboat that a one and one half inch hole two feet below the water line will admit 71 gallons of water per minute! That's 4,260 gallons an hour! This figure exceeds the pumping output of the largest available electric bilge pump operating with little or no head and fully charged battery. ABYC's H-22 Standards for Bilge Pumps is limited, simply indicating bilge pumps are intended for control of spray, rain water, and normal accumulation of water due to seepage and spillage. Hence, Boat Builders are installing pumps to address such and only such standard. Because of this, it is highly advised every mariner always carry a manual diaphragm pump which can at least provide a fighting chance against the inflow of water in an emergency. The ideal number of pumps would be anywhere between 2 and 5, depending on the size of the vessel (16ft - 60ft) and capacity would range anywhere from 2500 Gallons Per Hour (GPH) to 10000 Gallons Per Hour as vessel size increases.
Longevity of fiberglass hulls and blistering The facts of science and chemistry is that Steel, Aluminum and Wood all require constant maintenance, which, if neglected would have far more severe effects on structural integrity over a shorter time period. A fiberglass boat will likely withstand prolonged neglect without the hull being weakened. Ingress of moisture (which can lead to blistering) occurs over years and in the end, might not even result in the formation of a blister (or chemical change in properties of the GRP matrix).