Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Cost of Owning a Boat - "Seas The Day" (Catalina 315) 4th Season Costs

(Image Credit:

I'm a little late for this post which I typically do at the end of the year, but since I'm starting to get bills for the upcoming season, I better get this update in.

First, some references to our First Year Costs, our 2nd Season Costs, and our 3rd Season Costs for those who want the full picture of the costs of owning and using a new 30ft sailboat.  This is going to be a simple and matter-of-fact post... read the earlier ones for more explanation.  Sorry if this is getting boring, but this is more about sharing numbers than riveting narrative.

Again, there are no "startup costs" so we have "Seasonal Costs" (the cost of owning the boat for a year) and "Excursion Costs" (an estimate of the cost of using the boat).


- Mortgage was $12,000 (we round the mortgage payment up to $1000/month).
- Insurance was $1,263
- Maintenance was $2,346 (mostly cleaning, waxing, and bottom cleaning plus one repair)
- Mooring & Storage was $3,984 (Haul out, winterizing, new mooring, etc.)
- Safety equipment was $90 (I'm guessing we have most of the stuff now.)
- Accessories were $30 (ditto)
- Yacht Club expenses were $2,330 (dues, launch service, coupons, events, etc.)

That's a total of $22,121 (be nice... I'm rounding), which is a little more than last year.  We still don't have much in the way of maintenance other than cleaning.  I hope that keeps going for a bit longer.


For excursion costs, I try to estimate the cost of the typical excursion be it a day out and back from the mooring in Keyport, or a longer endeavor.  I try to include actual marina costs, any special provisioning, a guess at fuel and any tips to the launch drivers.  We basically had two types of trips this year.

First is a 4 hour day on the water - starting and ending at Keyport, NJ.  A rough guess for this trip is about $40 it's really not that expensive beyond the cost of ownership.  Note that I do NOT count the costs of meals consumed on land in Keyport (or drinks at KYC).  We had 16 days like this for a total cost of about $640 (again, these are guesses) one more than last year.

The second type of trip was our seven day vacation on the Hudson River.  This was our second time doing something like this and yes, it was a bit expensive including marina costs, provisions and lots of eating in restaurants (we took a couple of day trips into NYC).  Unfortunately, I didn't record exact spending (it was vacation, after all), but my best guess is it was about a $2500 trip.

So all in all, it continues to average out to about $2K per month.

So what did we get for all this money?  A great week-long vacation, 23 days on the water total, and sharing sailing and Seas The Day with 14 people (not to mention friendships and great times at KYC, etc.). My knee issues that from last year were largely healed, but I did suffer a setback in October after the season, so we're still working on getting it back for this year.

Finally, some have asked "why post this?"  That continues to be a fair question and I do it each year because back when we were thinking about purchasing Seas The Day, there was little information about what it actually costs to own a new boat.  So I share this in that spirit.  Is this exhaustive?  Probably not... I'm sure I'm missing $20 spent at West Marine or at the fuel dock here and there, but I think I'm getting many of the costs.  So how would I gauge the costs of cruising on a new sailboat?  I'd look at the mortgage payment and double it.  It may not work in all cases - and it certainly depends on how you keep it, etc., - but it would get you close enough to ensure your budget can handle a new boat.  If you get a used boat and use it at KYC, my best guess is the minimum costs would be about $1k/month but of course, you'd have repairs as well.

I'll see you in the spring!

PS - I realized I forgot to post the traditional "hauling and covering" post.  I'll tell you it basically looked the same as other years.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

An October Day on the Water

I can't really call this a day of sailing since we left all the sails wrapped up and just motored.

I haven't been to Seas The Day for a few weeks.  We had some tropical storms brush by and some other systems that seemed to always come through on the weekend.  I wanted to hold out for one more day on the water with my first mate and she returned last weekend.  So looking ahead and seeing iffy weather this Saturday and a gorgeous day today (Tuesday), I decided it was time for an FTO day to enjoy a day on the water.

We caught the launch and motored out.  On embarking, we decided this was going to be a lazy day... we kept the sails in and spent a couple of hours just touring around the bay outside Keyport.  The day was beautiful but cool.

It was kind of rocky... I don't know how she took a nap.  

After a while, we looked at each other, decided it was time and headed back.  We had dinner with John at Bertucci's and while waiting for him, we decided that we're finished for this season.  

Time to call and start the winterizing process.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A daysail with John and his friends

My son is fortunate enough to live on the same floor of his condo complex with some of his best friends from High School.  When I'm with him for meals, etc., he talks about them nonstop, so when he asked if he could invite them sailing, it was a no-brainer to invite Jim and Laura along for the day.

I arrived at KYC a bit early and noticed this huge shape down at the end of the dock.  Mike Vinik, one of our members who owns a tugboat (and evidently some other large toys), had his tug and barge parked at the end of the dock and a few members were working to put ice sleeves on the pilings that hold the floating docks in place.  The club has been having trouble with ice heaving pulling these out during the winter and this is hopefully a solution.

Aside from the new scenery at the dock, it was a typical daysail.  We caught the launch out to Seas The Day.  I went below and explained how to use the head and the safety precautions (I also checked the stuffing box... I'm not going to forget that for a while).  Then we motored out - it was relatively foggy at first - and then set the sails.

We sailed across the bay to Mt. Loretto Chapel and then tacked and headed back a bit.  Once we got away from the shore a bit, we broke out the sandwiches from Mike's and after eating, headed over to show them the Great Beds Light.

We then returned... taking a few extra minutes to remove some of the windage from Seas The Day (Hurricane Jose is coming up the coast this week - we expect it to stay out at sea, but I wanted to have things ready as I'm doing training on Tuesday and Wednesday.)

After picking up the stick, we had time for a couple of photos before heading back on the launch and a quick beer at the KYC bar.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A September Daysail

Vicky heads back to China Today so Saturday was our last chance to sail together for a while.  It was just a pleasant daysail with the two of us.  We set the sails for a close reach and sped across the bay... almost all the way to Romer Shoal Light at 7 knots or so without even trying.  There we turned around... heaved to... then tried to sail back (and realizing we made such great time due to wind and tides all going with us).  Since we wanted to meet John for dinner we took in the sails and turned on the engine.

It was a great - if cool - day.  Temperatures were in the high 60s out on the water which made it cool enough to pull out the jackets.  We couldn't ask for a better sky.

We saw a new (at least unfamiliar to us) tanker...

Thursday, August 31, 2017

NY Harbor Vacation - Day 7

Day 7 (Thursday):  I always wanted to circumnavigate... Staten Island.  We have always gone into and out of NY Harbor via the Verrazzano Bridge.  Each time a part of me wanted to go down the Arthur Kill waterway on our way back to Keyport.

So after an extra long conference call, a mad rush to get everything ready and another scrape on the dock trying to get off the dock by myself (I have to read up on that), we got some fuel and headed out.

NY Harbor was choppy as expected.  The weather was great, however, and I got what I feel is my best photo to date of the Statue of Liberty.

Somewhere around Robin's Reef Light (another spark plug light house), we cut to starboard back the Kill Van Cull waterway that leads to the Port of Newark.  Fortunately, there were only a few tugs and barges this morning.  However, we passed a bunch of interesting craft and bridges on the side.

The Bayonne cruise terminal...

Various loading platforms for the refineries along the waterway...

As we reached the Port of Newark, we turned into the Arthur Kill.

Under the Bayonne Bridge, then turned to port after passing shooters island.

Port of Elizabeth...

An old bascule bridge...

My big concern is that the railroad bridge would remain open.

The new Gothels Bridge...

There were various industrial locations we passed (what seemed to be an older tug yard above, and the infamous Staten Island Ships Graveyard, below).

A tug passing the Fresh Kills Landfill...

This clearly is the Olympic torch from the Perth Amboy Olympics...

And of course our sister club, the Raritan Yacht Club in Perth Amboy.

Once we hit Perth Amboy, we immediately saw the Great Beds Lighthouse and headed off towards Keyport.

As we were crossing the bay, I realized that it was an incredibly smooth trip - especially since we could clearly see a chop in the water.  I finally figured out that we were being blown along at just the right speed to travel with the waves.  Turning my head to look behind me, I realized that a squall was bearing down on us.

There's something about traveling to NY Harbor that means we'll get caught in a squall at the last minute.  We were heading to a Realtor appointment and the squall hit right as we were heading into the Keyport Harbor.  Vicky bravely went front and we tried to pick up the stick, but I had to call it off after seeing her move up and down 8 feet or so with each wave during some 30+ knot gusts.   

We motored out to the #3 buoy and tried again after it calmed back down.  This time we were successful and our NY Harbor vacation came to an end.

NY Harbor Vacation - Days 5 & 6

Day 5 (Tuesday).  Originally there wasn't supposed to be a day 5 at Liberty Landing Marina.  We were going to move on to either up the Hudson or onto LI Sound or perhaps back to the Raritan Bay to do some exploration.  There were two issues that kept us here.

First was my new weather app, Windy.  This has become quite popular lately and I'll admit that I like it a fair bit.  But perusing the weather for our upcoming plans, it seemed that all the areas I was checking (NY Harbor, shown here, Sandy Hook Bay, even Raritan Bay and Keyport), all showed 8-foot swells (!!!) for Tuesday night.  I freely admit that I'm chickenshit as a sailor and the thought of 8' swells here in the marina would be just bedlam.  I checked around with some friends... a few people think this might be more of an offshore app, but clearly, the best (meaning relatively calm) window for the return was later in the week.  So we decided to use Liberty Landing as a sort of home base for local sightseeing and did the tour of LSC and Liberty State Park yesterday as described previously.

The other issue that caused us to stay was the nagging sensation that something wasn't quite right with Seas The Day.  Several times this year while onboard, I've heard the bilge pump go off.  This is a little electric pump in the lowest part of the ship that is designed to keep water out of the bilge (and in turn keep Seas The Day from sinking).

I never recall hearing the bilge pump in previous years... in fact, I've even dumped water into the bilge to test it a few times just to be certain it was still working.  As I was lounging around on the boat this weekend, I became aware that the pump seemed to be activating a lot... a number of times a day.  Yesterday morning I timed the interval at right around every 45 minutes.  This was not right and since Liberty Landing Marina has a nice service yard adjacent to it, I decided to get their tech to check it out.

I also did some digging and figured out that the likely culprit was the stuffing box.  This is a device that allows the propeller shaft to go through the boat, spin and not let water into the boat... in theory.

In reality, here is what mine looked like while the engine was off at the dock.  Note that the owner manual says we should see ZERO drips while the engine is off and 1 to 2 drips a MINUTE when the engine is running and the propeller shaft spinning.

I recorded this just before the technician arrived.  He confirmed this was a disaster waiting to happen.  All that was needed was for the battery to drain from the bilge pump... maybe the solar panel disconnects... maybe we're away for a while, but this issue has sunk boats.  So we had him fix this and troubleshoot a persistent odor from the head (he fixed the stuffing box, but couldn't find the head issue)

We didn't get the 8-foot swells here in the marina (I expect NY Harbor didn't either), but we did get a steady rain and enough wind to test the dock lines and fenders a bit.  

We decided to take a nap... there's something nice about lying in the V-berth and listening to the raindrops on the ceiling.  It was a gentle rain and we could leave the hatch open slightly, and enjoy the moment.   Finally, we headed to a dinner at Liberty House Restaurant.

Day 6 (Wednesday), I woke up early and looked out from the V-berth to see this...

Living on a boat for a week has its... compromises.  Seas The Day is fun to sail, but as a live-aboard, it is a tad cramped.  

Later that morning, our new friends, Mike and Maria left this morning aboard Tuscan Sun, their Kadey-Krogen 42 (my favorite boat in the marina), which I have to admit, I envy (even if you can't sail her).

The rest of the morning was basically getting Vicky caught up on her emails, and I checked in with the dockmaster about tomorrow's trip back to Keyport.  (I wanted some local knowledge on the Arthur Kill - a sort of back way to Keyport through some of the NY/NJ industrial scene.

Around Noon, we finally got our act together and RUSHED for the Liberty Landing Ferry, which took us first across the Morris Canal to Jersey City (it's maybe a 100 yd ferry ride), but then across the Hudson to the World Financial Center.

As we approached the WFC marina, we found P.J. Clarke's Restaurant which looked incredibly inviting - at least as inviting as it was expensive.  But you seriously can't ask for a better outdoor dining experience... overlooking the Hudson and the Statue/Ellis Island/Jersey Central Station trio.

After Lunch, we entered the adjacent mall and found our way to the new Transportation Hub (i.e., Oculus) that was recently finished.  It is an impressive structure!

This was followed by a tour of the 9/11 Memorial.  I had briefly been by the outdoor fountains before but never was able to make it to the museum.  We paid a visit and it was a pretty intense experience.

While the inside was impressive, the outdoor memorial was simply moving and powerful.

After the memorial, we crossed a street and took a rest in a little park inside the WFC complex.  It was neat to see everyone sharing this community park, with mini soccer games zig zagging around family picnics or even just people out on the grass.

We finished back at P. J. Clarke's for a nice dinner with two of Vicky's colleagues (Ivy and Claudia), ending just in time to take the ferry back to Liberty Landing.  This time we were able to secure seats upstairs and outdoors (where everyone it seemed was taking photos).