Just How Much Does a Fishing Boat Cost?

Angling is loved by sports lovers and recreation adventurists all over the world.

Fishing from a boat allows a greater opportunity for catching more fish as well as bigger variety.

One of the most frequently asked questions about fishing boats is: How much does a fishing boat cost? Since there are a wide variety of floating things in the world, the answer is actually too complex to be put under a single umbrella.

  • You can get an Inflatable Dinghy for around fifty dollars, add padding to it, and you’re more or less all set to go.  I wouldn’t suggest taking this out in anything other than calm shallow water!
  • If you’re willing to go for something more expensive, then you can buy one or two-seated Tandem Kayak for just under a thousand dollars and enjoy riding and fishing.
  • Jet Ski will come for a few thousand dollars and you can experience some real thrill and adventure with them, and better yet, you can fish from them.
  • For something to be called a real boat, medium sized sailing boats can be bought for twenty to twenty-five thousand dollars.
  • If you go for a yacht, then the most luxurious ones will come for a few million dollars and add to your status.

The point to understand is that there are options for all types of requirements. What you have to do is to be clear on your expectations from the fishing boat, and then you can look for something that fulfills your needs.

Major Outlays

While researching on your budget for buying a fishing boat, you should consider the following universal components of fishing boats:

Engine: It is the major determinant of how far and how fast can a fishing boat travel. You should never compromise the quality and power of the engine because you don’t want it to malfunction in the middle of the sea.

Body: The body of a fishing boat should be strong and durable because if you park your boat at a mooring station, they are continuously going to face water and sunlight.

Fishing Rods: Of course, for fishing, you’re going to need fishing rods and reels.

Safety Equipment: All boats are required to carry safety equipment with them. Since they can prove to be life-saving during emergencies, you should never compromise on them. Some of the important safety equipment are:

  • Wearable Floating Device: Everyone on the boat must be wearing a life jacket all the time as these jackets can keep humans floating in the water for many hours.
  • Lifeboat: It’s another floating device which can be inflated and wore like a belt to stay afloat.
  • VHF Radio: VHF radios have an advantage of being registered and equipped with GPS. So, in case your boat’s engine fails or you get lost, then you can be found easily. Everyone should have a little training on using VHF radio before buying a fishing boat.
  • Anchor: Anchor can be very helpful in situations where your boat fails near rocks or sandbanks. Fishing anglers tend to take two anchors in case the first doesn’t work.
  • Alternate Propulsion: In case of failure of the engine, having alternate propulsion to power the boat can be very helpful in getting the boat safely to the coast.
  • Navigation Lights: For fishing during the night, the boat must be equipped with proper navigation lights.
  • Depth and Fish Finder: It’s very important to be aware of the depth of water at the point where your boat is sailing. This can be done with the help of a depth finder.

Forward Cabin: It can be considered as the living area of the boat. You can rest here during the night or you can store here the crates full of fishes. The cabin must have proper ventilation.

Wheelhouse: Wheelhouse serves as the shelter for people who are at the wheel. It should be bright and airy along with having good visibility.

Deck Space: You should have an idea of how many people are going to be there with you on the boat during the fishing. Small and medium-sized boats can easily accommodate two to four people. If there are going to be more than four people, then you should get a bigger boat.
There should also be a place for storing fishing rods and tackles etc.

Inshore and Offshore Boats

There are two types of fishing boats:

Inshore Fishing Boats: If the fishing is done up to a depth of 30 meters, it is said to be inshore fishing. In this region, the water is calm and shallow, and so the boats meant for inshore fishing require less equipment such as holders, attires, storage etc.

Offshore Fishing Boats: When fishing is done in regions where the depth of water is more than thirty meters, it is called offshore fishing. Here, the boat is far away from the coast. Offshore boats need to be stronger and more durable than inshore boats, and they also require large storages, attire and holders. Undoubtedly, they are much costlier than inshore boats.

The Total Cost of Operating a Fishing Boat

Price of the Fishing Boat: If you are looking for a boat solely for the purpose of fishing and having some recreation, then you can choose one of the following common classes of fishing boats:

Pontoon Boats: The average price tag of a new pontoon boat revolves around twenty-five-thousand to thirty-thousand dollars. There are varying sizes of pontoon boats, but the most popular ones are the 22-foot Pontoon boats and you can easily find them in rivers and lakes all over the USA.
A smaller pontoon boat can be bought for around fifteen to twenty thousand dollars, while the biggest one can cost up to more than fifty thousand dollars.

Outboard Motorboat: Motorboats having outboard motors but no cabin, which are meant for fishing, start from twenty-thousand dollars and reach up to several hundred thousand dollars. These motorboats are also called powerboats or speedboats. Getting a secondhand outboard motorboat with high performance can cost around thirty-thousand dollars, but the price also depends on many other factors.

Inboard Motorboat: These are large motorboats equipped with cabins and inboard motors. They are also called Cruisers, and the biggest ones can be even compared with yachts. Price of a new Inboard motorboat can start with at least several hundred thousand dollars. Second-hand ones are obviously cheaper, but you should look at the condition of the boat.

The Cost Of Owning a Fishing Boat

Cost of Mooring the Boat: After you’ve purchased a boat for fishing and recreation, you will need a place to keep your boat when it is not in use. Normally there are two options: a) You can keep the boat in the backyard of your house, and b) You can moor it at a docking station.

Keeping the boat in your backyard is a good idea if your boat is neither heavy nor big. You’ll need to buy a trailer that can be hitched to your vehicle in order to transport the boat back and forth your house. However, you should keep in mind that if the boat is not small enough, then you can have difficulties carrying it. Also, loading and unloading of the boat on the trailer always require at least two people.

For medium and big sized boats, the only other option is to park it in a docking or harbor station. The rate of docking depends on the size of your boat and also the duration of time. Generally, the expenditure on mooring ranges from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars per month. In addition, you’ll also need a boat lift to prevent your boat from damaging in the water.

It should be kept in mind that mooring is expensive and can cost up to thirty-thousand dollars per year for the largest ones. That’s why you should carefully decide the size of the boat you’re buying because that will affect the rates.

Cost of the Boat Trailer: If your boat is small and you don’t want to pay high mooring charges, then you can get a boat trailer to transport your boat. The average price of a boat trailer is between two-thousand to five-thousand dollars. The good thing is that you need to pay this amount only once.

Cost of Storing the Boat in the winter: If you live in pleasant, warm places such as Hawaii, Florida, Southern Carolina or other such places, then you can leave your boat in the water throughout the year without any problem. But if you’re from a colder region such as New York or Minnesota, then you will need to haul your boat every year just before winter and make some adjustments to winterize it. The cost of winterizing can go up to a few thousand dollars.

The expenses of winterizing involve a storage fee, shrink wrapping, draining and changing of fuel, oil or some other fluids etc. When the winter has ended, again some maintenance is required before sending them back into the water.

The cost of the Fuel: This is no doubt this is the scariest part when calculating the costs of operating a boat because motorboats consume a lot of fuel. It is rightly said that if the cost of fuel gives you nerves, then just don’t buy a boat. The thing is that the cost of fuel on water proves to be far more than the cost of fuel at a normal gas station.

The average consumption rate of fast motorboats is 20 to 30 gallons of fuel per hour. If we consider the average price of fuel to be 3 dollars per gallon, then you’ll be spending around 80 dollars per hour while sailing. The five-hour trip will make the cost 400 dollars, and if you take your boat on such sailing trips once every week, then the total cost will be more than 20000 dollars for a year. Moreover, older boats with rusty engines consume even more fuel.

Pontoon boats, however, are a relief because they use much less fuel. Their average consumption rate is five gallons per hour, which makes it 75 dollars for a five-hour trip. If you sail once a week every year, then you’ll be spending 3000 to 4000 dollars every year.

Before buying a fishing boat, it is always a good idea to think deeply about the cost of fuel you can bear without any problem. If your aim is nothing more than causal fishing and some recreation, then you can go for pontoon boats as they consume less fuel. If you’re a professional fisher and you need to sail longer and faster, then you can go for other suitable boats.

Inspection Fee: Motorboats are machines, and they need regular maintenance. You don’t want your boat to fail in between or, God forbid, drown. This is why you must spend some money on time to time inspection of your fishing boat to ensure safety.

Cost of Insurance of the Boat: You must never deploy your boat in the water without buying an insurance policy for it. Boat accidents are not uncommon and studies show that every year more than five-thousand boats in the USA collide with others or drown. Boats cost a fortune, and accidents can inflict large financial trouble to the boat-owner.

Almost all states now require the boats to be insured. The rate normally lies between 1 to 1.5 percent of the price of the boat every year. That means that if you own a boat worth thirty-thousand dollars, then you’ll need to pay three to four hundred dollars in insurance every year. That’s not a big price when seen in the light of the costs of mooring and fuel.

Registration on Boats: Every state requires the boat-owners to register their boats after purchasing. There are also some annual taxes to be paid. Fortunately, these costs are not so much, but you should consider these expenses and never delay paying the taxes.

Calculating the Total Operating Cost of a Fishing Boat

We have seen individual costs required for operating a fishing boat. Now let’s combine them to see how much pressure they will pose on your pocket.

To have a general idea, let’s assume that you purchased a medium sized boat for 50,000 dollars. The cost of mooring the boat at a docking station will cost you 10,000 dollars in a year. The total price of fuel for a year will be 15,000 dollars. You spend 500 dollars on insurance, 1000 dollars on inspection, another 1000 on winterization, 100 dollars on registration, and 100 dollars on taxes.

The total money spent in the first year will be 78000 dollars. From next year, you won’t be paying the purchasing price, so then onwards it will be 28000 dollars per year.

If you chose to buy a trailer instead of mooring the boat at a docking station, then you’ll be paying 5000 dollars for the trailer and nothing for parking. This makes your total cost to be 68000 dollars for the first year and 18000 dollars for the subsequent years.

For Pontoon boats, you will be spending less, while for the big and luxury boats, the costs will be multiplied due to many factors.

The Logistics of Secondhand Fishing Boats

Till now we’ve talked about the costs related to new boats. Second-hand boats are actually not very different. They can be the solution when you don’t have as much budget as to buy a new expensive boat. However, except for the purchase price, the rest of the costs such as docking cost, maintenance cost, winterization cost, insurance cost, taxes etc are the same as that of the new boats.

You can expect the price of a second-hand boat to be in the following range:

  1. Used pontoon boats can start from as low as 3000 dollars and go up to 10000 to 15000 dollars.
  2. Used Outboard motorboats having high performance start from 30000 dollars and can go up to 60000 to 70000 dollars.
  3. Inboard motorboats or Cruisers are large and luxury boats. Buying them secondhand can cost few-hundred-thousand dollars or more.

The price of a second-hand boat actually depends on the condition of the boat and if the model is recent or very old.

The Best Fish Finders: Reviewed and Rated

Before buying a secondhand fishing boat, considering the following options will help you a lot:

Buying from a Boat Broker: Most of the boat brokers deal in both new and old fishing boats. The advantage of buying a boat from them is that you get a chance to look at both new and old boats and you can see how much you’re saving by buying a used one. If the difference is large, then it is worth it, but if there isn’t much difference between the prices of new and old, then there’s no point in buying the used one.
Boat brokers generally charge 4 – 8% of the selling price of the boat and considering your boat to be a grand investment, that’s not a big cost.

Legal Owners: If a fishing boat travels to a different country, then it must be registered. Actually, all boats are now required to be registered. Before buying a used boat, you have to make sure the boat is not a stolen one. There are many websites where you can see the list of stolen boats in different states. Buying the boat from a boat broker eliminates this problem if the broker has already done the required checks.

Classified Boating Platforms: Many traders and private individuals use classified boating platforms to sell their boats. You can expect to find a wide variety of options here. You can compare the prices and facilities of different models, and you can also hope to save a lot of money. Make sure to go for boats with so many pictures which clearly demonstrate their current conditions. Boats with fewer pictures can be tricky and very frustrating if you start discovering the problems after you’ve purchased one.

Boat Surveyors: Some sellers provide you with a complete look at the old boats before you buy one. The survey will help you in understanding the real working and structural conditions of the boat. You can then assess how much you’ll have to spend on the repairs and replacements. Surveying also gives you a chance for negotiating the price with the dealer.

Some dealers will also provide you with the valuation information of the boat which will be required for insurance and mortgage.

Finance: If collecting the entire money required for purchasing a fishing boat is not an option, then you can get the boat on a mortgage at a fixed rate or two to eight years. The broker can explain the available financial options. If you want to save the interest money, then you can try to finance yourself.

You don’t buy a property or a car without conducting deep research on it. You want to know how much you are paying and also why you are paying. Your fishing boat is also one such big investment, and you should never buy a boat without analyzing your needs, options, and restrictions. You can choose to get an old or a new boat based on your budget, and seriously analyzing the cost of fuel, docking, insurance, maintenance, etc can help you save a lot of money in the long run.    

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