One of the boating rules of thumb that I keep coming across in my travels around the internet and YouTube is that your maintenance bill generally works out as a percentage of the cost price of the vessel. For example, if you paid $50,000 for your yacht, then the maintenance bill, averaged out over a few years will work out as a percentage of that $50,000. Not too sure what the actual percentage is supposed to be, but I would imagine that it can vary. Depending upon the age of the vessel, how much it cost in the first place and how much maintenance is actually done. I once knew someone who stated that their maintenance costs on their car were $0. That’s right, zero! But, we argued, you need to change the oil and buy tyres etc. Nope he said, I don’t spend a cent, doesn’t matter if it needs oil or not, I just don’t spend money on it! That’s a pretty good philosophy; however, it may leave you stranded by the side of the road at some stage. If you used that philosophy on your yacht, it’s a recipe for disaster. Not to mention, that the yacht will undoubtedly have a say in that – and just when you don’t want it to happen, a vital piece of equipment will fail and you will be forced to spend money.
Apparently the maintenance percentage is pretty accurate – you might go for a couple of years with just minor stuff and then spend a few bucket loads of money fixing the big ticket items which will balance out over a long period of time. Bigger and more expensive boats will definitely have a higher maintenance bill that smaller and cheaper vessels.
Having said of all this, La Mouette doesn’t seem to fit into this equation. We originally purchased the boat quite cheaply as it was a deceased estate, and although it wasn’t in too bad a condition, we didn’t think we were going to spend anywhere near the amount that we have so far to date. It would be fair to say that La Mouette is slowly undergoing a complete refit and overhaul. So far she has had a new mast and rigging, engine rebuild and is just back in the water after some extensive work done to the hull. Thirty or forty years of antifoul were removed, the blisters ground out (31 of them) and re-glassed plus a few other items such as a through hull fitting, and new boot stripe. To date, we have spent more on these items than the original purchase price of the boat, quite a lot more in fact. Even allowing for the mast to be replaced under insurance, the amount of money that we have had to fork out is considerably more than double the original purchase price of the boat. There are still a lot of big ticket items to go, such as dodger, solar arch, boom bag, roller furling, new anchor and winches just to start the list off. At the end of the day, we will have spent way more than what the boat is actually worth, and definitely way more than can be recouped by selling the vessel at market price, however, we will have a really nice seaworthy boat. A lot of people say that it’s cheaper to buy a well-equipped boat in the first place as someone has already spent this money, but I somehow think that whatever condition it’s in, it will still require some work and refitting to be done. Even brand new boats still need stuff done to them, especially if you want to go offshore. Granted that you won’t have to spend a small fortune in refitting the vessel, certainly not approaching the cost price, but you would end up spending a few thousand at the very least.
Sometime in the future, when the spending spree has subsided somewhat, and La Mouette is looking brand new, both inside and out, we will have a very nice boat. It won’t be worth what we spent on it, but if we don’t plan on selling it anytime soon, then it won’t matter. However, it raises the question, that if we anchor off some secluded cove and sit back in the cockpit enjoying our sundowners after a nice day’s sailing, how much will that weekend really cost? Would it be cheaper to fly first class to a resort on the Queensland coast and spend the night drinking Moet Chandon than to spend a night at anchor drinking gin bought from Aldi and eating baked beans on toast? I don’t think I will do the calcs on this as I might not like the answer!
In the meantime the work continues. La Mouette is now back in the water and my current project is installing new batteries. As the new batteries are a higher amp hour output than the old ones, they are also quite a bit bigger, so the battery compartment needs modifying. On La Mouette, the battery compartment is in the port quarter berth and the batteries sit on a plywood platform. I have removed the old batteries and the plywood. Underneath the plywood was a lot of filth and black sludge, plus a few washers and nuts that had fallen in over the years. The whole berth was cleaned out and so far I have put in one coat of Bilgekote which has made a huge difference. The battery project should be completed soon and then it’s onto the next job. But more of that next time.