How Much Does It Cost to Maintain a Boat?

The key to optimal boat performance and longevity is routine boat maintenance. Ongoing maintenance and care prevent costly repairs, keep your insurance premiums, help your boat stay under warranty and extend its life. A maintained boat is also more likely to provide a trouble-free performance during moments when you need it most. How much will you spend on boat maintenance costs? What maintenance can you perform yourself? What do you need to leave to experts?

Some smaller components require ongoing maintenance. These are items that you can take care of yourself. However, larger items on your maintenance checklist may require service from licensed boat maintenance professionals. A common maintenance checklist may include the engine, hull, electrical systems, plumbing, HVAC, moving parts, canvas and upholstery. 

Remember the 2% and 10% Rule

How much you spend on boat maintenance costs depends on several factors:

  • The overall condition of the boat at purchase
  • The age of the boat (new or used)
  • The climate or environmental factors
  • How often you take the boat out
  • Whether you stick to the recommended maintenance schedule

While each boat is different, most vessels follow the 2% and 10% rule. If you purchase a new boat, it costs 2% of a new boat’s price to maintain it annually. If you buy a used boat, you can expect to pay 10% of the boat’s purchase price in boat maintenance costs. Remember that you are more likely to pay closer to 20% of the boat’s purchase price if the boat is 15 years old or older. 

Common Boat Maintenance Costs

Fuel and Oil

Fuel prices can make a big dent in your budget if you’re relying on an engine rather than sails. For instance, it costs about $400 to fill the 80-gallon tank of a 27′ boat with a single-engine. A heavy-duty powerboat that is considered fuel-efficient costs about $1,750 to fill a 350-gallon tank. An oil change can run you about $300.

Varnishing Brightwork

How often a varnish job needs to be done depends on the amount of sun exposure. Most traditional varnish jobs require a new coat every ten months or so. Varnish projects vary greatly in cost and process. Some boats have minimal teak trim, while others contain elaborate brightwork. Most varnishers charge between $25 and $60/hour. Boatyards can charge more than $100/hour. A deposit of 25 to 50% of the estimated cost is common.

Bottom Paint

The average cost to paint a boat yourself ranges anywhere from $300-$2000 depending on the quality of the paint and the boat’s size. The paint quality for the bottom might cost a bit more than the topside because of the quality necessary to withstand saltwater and the other elements. Professional boat painters charge by the linear foot, so you will be priced accordingly. You’ll be paying anywhere from $1000-$3000+ for a professional paint job on a boat.

Repairing/Replacing Worn or Damaged Equipment

Equipment repairs and replacement costs are a normal part of owning a boat. Annual preparation and repair projects prevent major repair costs down the road. Repair costs vary by equipment and maintenance schedules. Common repairs include the fuel system, belts, cables & hoses, electrical system, propellers/impellers, hulls and safety gear. Many of these repairs need to be performed by boating professionals. 


Winterizing a boat is imperative for protecting the engine, electronics and other craft components. This is also true in Northwest Florida, where the winters are not harsh. Winterizing your boat can cost between $300 and $1000 depending on the boat’s size and what type of winterization services it requires. Winterization may include storage, specialty services and supplies.

Spring Commissioning

Spring commissioning is a comprehensive maintenance service that gets your boat ready for your first launch, typically in the spring season. The service can include engine, battery, generator, belt, shaft, water system and AC maintenance or replacement. Your boat may receive a tune-up and oil change, as well as a stuffing box adjustment. All major systems and components are checked to ensure that you have a trouble-free launch in spring.

How to Reduce Boat Maintenance Costs

Keeping your boat well maintained is the best way to reduce boat maintenance costs, ensuring safety and reliability and retaining the boat’s value. Since the average annual budget to cover maintenance and repairs is 10% of the boat’s value, it is important to cut costs where you can. 

Preventative Maintenance

The best way to cut maintenance costs in half is to prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Preventative maintenance can extend the life of your vessel’s equipment, prevent emergencies when you are out to sea and prevent premature repair and replacement costs. Preventative maintenance also keeps insurance premiums low and keeps your boat under warranty.

Stick to the Manufacturer Maintenance Schedule

All boat manufacturers recommend a maintenance schedule for the boats they engineer and build. Since the manufacturer created the vessel, they are the authority on when and how the boat should be maintained. So, stick to the boat maintenance schedule, whether you perform DIY maintenance or hire a professional crew to do it for you. 

Do Small Boat Maintenance Jobs Yourself

Basic maintenance tasks involve keeping things clean and well-lubricated. One of the most basic but effective hull maintenance chores is simple washing and waxing. After a day out on the water, clean the boat and lubricate parts, as necessary. Also, perform a simple visual inspection of all the boat’s systems after each excursion. If you spot anything wrong, you can decide whether to tackle the challenge yourself or take the boat in for professional repairs.

Schedule Professional Boat Maintenance in Pensacola, Florida

Pensacola Shipyard has the facilities you need to make all essential boat repairs. We can protect your boat components from sun exposure, maintain your engine and equipment and keep your boat clean. We also offer comprehensive fiberglass maintenance for all types of boats.

Contact us today at 850.780.8441 to schedule boat maintenance services.