Figure maintenance, storage costs into new boat purchase

Metro Creative Connection

Editor's note: To page through the summer issue of Sound & Country online, visit The Day's new iMag, here. Our 12-page boating guide starts on page 12.

Thinking of buying a boat or trading up to a larger size? Hop aboard — there is much to consider.

Luckily, there are dozens of full-service marinas from Old Saybrook and Old Lyme to New London, Groton, Mystic, Stonington, and beyond.

How will you use the boat? A family craft requires more room with a cabin compared to fishing boats where one is exposed to the elements, according to David Pugsley, general manager and vice president of Brewer Yacht Sales in Westbrook, which is also the location of Brewer Pilots Point Marina.

Pugsley added that gas boats tend to be a little cheaper to buy, but diesel boats burn less fuel. Also, coastal–cruising sailboats are not always “fitted out” for longer ocean travel.

“There are lots of things to consider when you’re at sea,” he explained. “There’s the berth (bed) configuration; the amount of fuel that you carry, the sail inventory.”

Boats are made of numerous materials. There is solid fiberglass and composite fiberglass. The latter is the most popular, because it makes boats lighter, faster, more fuel efficient and easier to repair compared to aluminum or steel, which are what boats longer than 60 feet are usually made of, Pugsley explained.

Even though wooden boats are the most expensive to own and repair, they’re still manufactured today.

“There’s a whole group of people out there that just love wooden boats. There’s a certain feel to them and a certain smell to them. … Not to be corny, but there can be a real sense of harmony with the environment, because you’re in something that was grown as a tree,” said Pugsley.

It’s important to look at all the expenses involved, which include maintenance, repairs, summer/winter storage, and insurance.

“About 40 percent of customers ask us to do some kind of routine maintenance,” stated Brendan Page, general manager of Brewer Ferry Point Marina in Old Saybrook.

“Boats have many specialized systems (that are) different from cars or homes. More times than not, customers come to us with issues that could have been avoided if a [trained] marine technician had been on the boat,” said Page.

“Sort of a general rule of thumb for maintenance on a boat is 10 percent of the purchase price,” Pugsley said. “So, if you spend $30,000 on a boat, you can figure you’ll have $3,000 annually in maintenance costs.”

This cost is in addition to storage fees if one opts to keep the boat at a marina.

Rules vary at each yard, said Page. “Ask to see the marina’s contract and rules; storage rates should be clearly stated with no additional hidden fees.”

Storage fees are based on the boat’s square footage and vary between marinas and even amongst Brewer’s 23 boatyards, which include Old Saybrook, Mystic, Westbrook, Deep River, Branford, and Stamford. For a 30-foot boat, Brewer Pilots Point Marina in Westbrook charges about $4,000 for a summer slip (parking space). To haul the boat out in October, have the bottom washed and “blocked” on stands and stored, it costs about $17 per square foot for the winter. If engine repairs are needed, Pugsley suggested checking to see if the service technicians are certified on your boat’s engine.

Crocker’s Boatyard in New London is also a full-service marina specializing in boat repairing, carpentry, sail rips, launching, hauling, and storage. By renting a slip, members automatically gain access to all the amenities — laundry, bathroom, shower facilities and an in-ground pool — a common perk at marinas. Some marinas, including Brewers, have other amenities, such as clubhouses, a basketball court, and musical entertainment. Those staying at Saybrook Point Marina in Old Saybrook can relax at the marina inn and spa, its fitness club, sauna, year-round indoor/outdoor heated pools, or pay extra and take Pilates, yoga, tai chi, and aqua works classes.

A boat can be “trailored” home, said Assistant Manager Sam Crocker of Crocker’s Boatyard, adding that “the slip offers boaters the convenience of not having to put the boat in the water every time they want to use it. All you have to do is get the kids, drive down, hop on the boat, go out for a ride, come back and clean it up.”

“Most people think boating is for rich people, but most boats are under 26 feet,” said Sam’s brother, Greg Crocker, a service technician at the boatyard.

Believing the business is definitely “in the blood,” Sam and Greg said their dream is to one day take over the business from their father, Dave, and Uncle, Skip.

“We’ve been here since 1881. My great-great grandfather started it working on rowboats behind his house.”

At Crocker’s Boatyard, it costs $3,500 to rent a slip for the summer and $1,500 for the winter for a 30-foot cabin cruiser.

Prior to launching the boat in the spring, the hull sides must be waxed and the bottom needs a fresh coat of paint, after which zinc anodes are attached to prevent metal corrosion on the boat’s shafts, props, and drives.

At the end of the season, the boat must be winterized, which involves power-washing the bottom of the boat. Also, draining the water lines and adding non-toxic antifreeze to the lines and the engine is important. The boat is then covered with shrink wrap or a tarp to keep the elements out.

Page said that decks, cabin tops, and transoms can rot from exposure. “Water has a not-so-wonderful way of finding any passage available, no matter how small. Simply by covering your boat every year you are protecting your investment and avoiding unnecessary future expenses.”

It is also important to have your fuel properly treated for the winter months to prevent problems in the spring and change the oil and fuel filters once annually, if not more, Page said. “As technologies develop, systems and engines have become more complicated. Check with the manufacturer for any questions regarding winterizing and commission.”

When choosing a boatyard repair shop, Sam Crocker suggests going through word of mouth, checking references, and inquiring about their experience and marine certifications.

Page encouraged people to take the time to get to know the marina manager and staff to ensure it’s the right location for you. “A boat is a prized possession to many; therefore, it is important to feel comfortable with who will be looking after your boat.”

By the numbers

Ninety-eight percent of the boats that are sold at all 14 Brewer Yacht Sales locations are used. The low-end cost of new boats range from $3,000 for a 10-foot Rigid Inflatable Boat (also called a RIB or dinghy) to $30,000 for an 18-foot Seaway boat. Higher-end examples include a 24-foot yacht for about $160,000 to a 40-foot yacht for $1 million — both by Nord Star. Used boats listed with Brewer range from $2,500 for a small sailboat to $1.5 million for a 55-foot power yacht. Can’t buy the boat outright? “Banks have loosened up (on approving loans) with a 20 percent down payment for 20 years,” David Pugsley, Brewer general manager, said.

Don’t forget to insurance. There are many caveats that can raise or lower your annual premium, such as where the boat is used, how much traveling you do, if you have a U. S. Coast Guard license for a small boat, and whether or not a larger yacht has a permanent, full-time licensed captain.

Also, Connecticut requires that all boat owners take a boating class, obtain a safe-boating certificate, and pay a fee. (See story on page 42.) And just when does a boat become a yacht? “It’s really in the eye of the beholder…A lot of people call their 30-foot boat a yacht,” said Pugsley, adding that boats over 100 feet are considered mega-yachts in the boating industry.

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