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How to estimate the cost of maintaining a second-hand boat ?

Coût d'entretien bateau occasion

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Vous êtes sur le point d’acheter un bateau à moteur ou un voilier sur le marché de l’occasion ? Pour bien vous préparer à cet achat et à la propriété, Boatngo s’associe à Band of Boats pour vous donner plusieurs conseils. Savez-vous comment estimer le prix l’entretien d’un navire de seconde main ? Quels sont les frais de maintenance réguliers et occasionnels à prendre en compte ? Y a-t-il une astuce pour réduire la facture ? Découvrez ci-dessous les réponses à toutes ces questions afin que vous soyez capable d’estimer au mieux le coût d’entretien d’un bateau d’occasion.

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Why is it important to estimate maintenance costs before buying a second-hand boat ?

If you're considering buying a second-hand boat, it's essential to know that the price of maintenance will represent a certain cost. And this applies whether you're buying a motorboat or a sailboat ! Indeed, the maintenance costs of a second-hand boat are rarely negligible : they often represent a significant proportion of the overall budget. Having an idea of the costs that maintenance will incur allows you to anticipate expenses, and ensure you can stick to the budget you've set yourself. By anticipating all the maintenance costs associated with your vessel, you'll put unpleasant surprises to one side, avoid breaking the bank and, ultimately, get the most out of your unit.

Factors influencing boat maintenance costs

We often hear or read that boat maintenance costs represent 5 to 10 % of the boat's value. The truth is, there's no such precise rule ! Before making a purchase, you can calculate the cost of maintaining a used boat based on several criteria :

  • The year the boat was built : an older boat, inevitably, will require more maintenance effort than one that came out of the yard a few months or a few years ago. The older a unit, the rarer it becomes, and the harder spare parts can be to find. At the same time, the price charged for these parts is often higher.
  • The type of vessel : motorboats and sailboats, for example, don't require the same care and maintenance operations.
  • The construction material : a second-hand wooden boat, for example, will require more maintenance than a polyester vessel.
  • The size of the boat : the longer the hull, and the larger the interior and exterior spaces, the more maintenance operations will be required, and therefore the more expensive.
  • The general condition of the vessel : a well-maintained second-hand unit, whose owners have always taken good care of it, will probably cost less in boat maintenance costs than a unit that has received little attention from its owners in the past.
  • The frequency with which the boat is sailed and its storage conditions : a unit that has sailed more or been well wintered will often be better preserved than a boat that has been left abandoned.


As you can see, boat maintenance costs are all the more difficult to estimate as they vary from one boat to the next. To anticipate the maintenance costs of a second-hand boat, Band of Boats recommends that you pay particular attention at the time of purchase : study all the characteristics of the vessel, find out about the habits of the previous owner(s) and their maintenance practices. Systematically consult old maintenance invoices and properly assess the condition of the vessel. By doing so, you can easily anticipate the maintenance costs of a pre-owned boat !

Main boat maintenance expenses

To calculate your boat maintenance expenses, think about all the work you are likely to have to carry out on the unit. Maintenance operations that should be considered by the owner of a second-hand boat may concern :

  • The engine and propulsion system (overhaul, troubleshooting, repowering...);
  • Hull and superstructure (fairing, antifouling, gelcoat polishing...);
  • Marine electrical and electronics (installation or repair);
  • Plumbing (maintenance, installation of new equipment...);
  • Cleaning (interior, exterior or general);
  • Saddlery (design or repair);
  • The cooling unit or air conditioning (installation, control, troubleshooting...);
  • Boilerwork (modification or repair of existing);
  • Sails and rigging (design, modification, replacement...);
  • Teak and flooring (maintenance or new flooring...);

How to estimate maintenance costs for a second-hand motorboat or sailboat ?

For a motorboat

If you're looking to buy a second-hand motorboat, whether it's a RIB or a larger unit, there are a number of boat maintenance operations to consider. Hull maintenance work, such as careening or gelcoat maintenance, should be carried out regularly. The frequency with which these operations should be carried out depends on the boat's sailing rhythm and environment. When planning these operations and estimating their cost, it's important not to forget the ancillary costs : the purchase of equipment (antifouling paint, rollers and brushes, protective tools, etc.), any costs incurred for taking the boat out of service and putting it back in the water, rental of the careening area, etc.

For second-hand powerboats, engine overhaul, inspection and winterization are undoubtedly the most important maintenance operations, and should not be neglected. Determine the frequency of servicing according to the number of engine hours since the last overhaul, and the type of equipment : inboard or outboard.

To estimate the cost of maintaining a second-hand motorboat, it can be useful to contact other owners of the same unit before you buy. This will give you an idea of the maintenance costs involved !

For a sailboat

If you're considering the purchase of a sailboat, it's also advisable to study the unit's characteristics. On the whole, you'll need to plan the same maintenance operations as on a motorboat, to which you'll add sail-related maintenance : sail maintenance - cleaning, stitching and sometimes patching - checking or changing running and standing rigging...

The maintenance costs of a second-hand sailboat will depend mainly on the type of rigging, the number and size of sails, their age and storage conditions, as well as the equipment present on the boat. Once again, it may be useful to discuss these maintenance costs with owners of similar yachts to get their opinion on the expenses to be expected.

Tips for reducing maintenance costs

To reduce boat maintenance costs, the number-one rule is to carry out all work properly. In fact, by providing your boat with quality work, you'll extend the life of your unit : you'll avoid premature failure or breakage of your equipment, and reduce maintenance costs at the same time. Band of Boats recommends that you carry out regular maintenance, in particular following the recommendations given in the ship manufacturer's booklet. Timely servicing and frequent checks on your equipment will help you avoid major problems. Wherever possible, use quality maintenance products and official spare parts, and keep a detailed record of all maintenance work carried out !

To reduce the cost of your boat, you can also carry out a few maintenance operations yourself. But for the most complicated boat maintenance work, or to extend your equipment warranty, we recommend that you call in a professional ! Finally, when you're not using your motorboat or sailboat, store it in the best possible conditions to ensure its protection.


Other costs for boat owners

Recurring costs

To the annual cost of maintaining a second-hand boat, you'll need to add all the costs associated with ownership :

  • Mooring or storage costs : at anchor on a mooring, on a harbor berth, on an onshore storage area, in a shed, wintering afloat or dry...;
  • Transport, handling, launching and hauling costs (purchase, insurance and storage of a trailer, or use of service providers);
  • The costs associated with registering the vessel, paying any taxesand inspection visits;
  • Insurance costs (boat liability as a minimum, and any additional options);
  • The cost of gas and fuel supplies;
  • Safety equipment, depending on the planned navigation area and distance from the coast (acquisition of equipment, then overhaul or renewal);

Unforeseen costs

Finally, when drawing up your used boat maintenance budget, you should also take into account the accidents and minor incidents that can occur : electrical or mechanical breakdowns, breakage of equipment while sailing, minor or major damage due to the weather, bad driving, vandalism... Depending on the equipment concerned, the period and the place where the problem is encountered, the bill can quickly escalate !

We advise you to anticipate all these unplanned maintenance expenses so that you can have access to rapid repairs and ensure your safety on board. You should also take into account other occasional expenses, such as specific improvements you may be happy to make to your boat, to enhance on-board comfort.

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