The owner’s opinion
To begin with, until you own your boat, you will not understand the size of the disaster you are in. You can be a skipper on charter yachts for years, but you still don’t understand completely what it is to be a yacht owner. You can often hear opinions: «Well, it’s like a car. Pay for the parking, do the maintenance, purchase the insurance, and drive around.»
Why are the spare parts expensive?
Let’s compare it with a car. We will install a water supply system, a sewage system, a kitchen in it — and it seems like a camper motorhome. Great, let’s add navigation electronics (echo sounder, anemometer, chartplotter), radar, drain devices, autopilot, mast, rigging, sails, rescue equipment. And all this must be crammed into a very limited space and securely placed so that one system does not interfere with the work of the other.
Many people think that yacht parts are so expensive because the yacht businessmen make huge profits. Yes, there are such spare parts, but in most cases, for example, a water tap, which at first glance looks the same as you have at home, is made of more expensive special materials. Or battery power cables and even hose clamps have a special design. Why? Because there is galvanic corrosion, and saltwater or salty air. Because the sea is an aggressive environment, where there are waves. When they hit the boat, the fiberglass hull actually twists a little.
Besides, the ultraviolet radiation, the sun, spares neither plastic nor fabric. That is, everything that is installed on yachts must be strong, and in the current world of disposable things, strong is expensive.
The level of mechanics and maintenance shipyards corresponds to the disposability of our world. Even the high cost of work does not guarantee its high quality. And if something is postponed and not done on time ... For example, if you don’t change the protective anodes, the process of destruction of some elements is like an avalanche. And the owner has to get into the details himself. And if there is not enough money, then you have to think about how to do it cheaper. At some point this boat is sold, a new owner buys it and ... begins to rake the consequences of the previous owner’s actions.
It is not always possible to obtain real insurance coverage against damage or loss even for a decent yacht with a price of more than 50 thousand euros at the age of 15 or more. Depends on the flag (country of registration), which for various reasons, mainly tax, often does not coincide with the citizenship of the owner. And then there are many different rules that vary from country to country. Somewhere it is necessary to undergo technical inspection once a year or two. Somewhere (for example, in France) you must change the standing rigging every 8 years. Without this, you can forget about full insurance, and the registration may not be extended. And without registration, you cannot get compulsory insurance against damage to third parties. And, in turn, you cannot enter the marina without this insurance.
And we need to think about the mooring. In many marinas, getting a long-term contract is a big problem. If you do not use the marinas and anchor, then you need to constantly monitor the weather — you cannot leave the yacht for a long time. You will need to take freshwater somewhere. If there is a desalination plant, then it needs electricity, and if there is a generator, then it needs fuel, and all this needs to be serviced. I don’t even mention batteries that need to be properly charged, properly discharged, and replaced regularly.
The yacht should be painted with antifouling. If you use paints legal for Europe / the USA, then they last for a year or two. Lifting a 45ft yacht for painting can cost as much as 700 euros in some places, for example in Croatia. And you will pay 100 euros for each day during work. And it is even more expensive if you need to do something with the hull, for example, treating osmosis, delamination, filler rotted in a deck, or complete cleaning and processing of a steel yacht. Teak repair works, keel fixing. It seems like you will need a heart stimulant. Of course, there are countries where all this is much cheaper, but something that is smart and cheap is a fairy tale.
You will have to lift the yacht to replace the anodes and to replace the seild drive oil seals or work with the gross line. Perhaps not every year, but it depends on how lucky you are.
Like a slave on the galleys
You always have to do something. And even if there seems to be nothing to do, then it is still necessary, for example, to desalinate the sails or the ropes. Ropes that have absorbed salt become stiff, «prickly» and don’t function well.
And you also need to clean in the holds, under the floorboards, where, at best, condensation accumulates. All winches must be regularly disassembled and lubricated. And I don’t even mention the engine, transmission, steering... Mooring lines are frayed, stoppers do not stop, pumps burn, devices are buggy, stainless steel rusts, wiring corrodes.
Every owner, except those who hire a special person to take care of the boat, has a file or notebook with a list of things to do. You can manage to make this list shorter, but not for long, and for tons of money. Do-it-yourself, of course, is cheaper, but you need not only hands but the brain. And I’ve seen horrible things on the yachts that were self-serviced. Their chances of being burned or drowned were rather big. And a yacht is not a car, you cannot just stand on the side of the road. You cannot call technical assistance. And according to statistics, more than half of the sunken boats sank due to a malfunction of their water shut-off valves.
Honestly, everything is not what it seems. And I will most likely buy myself a yacht again. Probably. But I will not advise anyone to buy a yacht. Especially if the budget is small, and technical knowledge is limited.