The real cost of owning a boat

You may have dreamt of owning your own boat since childhood, or just started considering it, as more and more people are looking at ways to explore the world by the waterways. Before going ahead, there are several costs that should be carefully considered.


Here’s a list that will help you estimate to day-to-day running and maintenance costs of a boat, helping to avoid some bad surprises!

The cost of mooring a boat

Mooring a boat

The first thing to consider is how much time you can spend on the boat and how close the boat is to your home. If you have the freedom to come aboard often and do the routine maintenance yourself, the cost will be much lower. The location of the boat is an important consideration, as prices vary greatly depending on the geographical area, proximity to a major city or the type of infrastructure. For a 37 ft cabin cruiser on the Rideau Canal, you can expect to pay around $3,600 to $4,000 CAD per season to dock your boat at a private marina.     

In addition to your annual mooring fees, as a private boat owner you also have to pay for mooring fees once you begin to cruise your boat along the canal at the public harbours, private marinas or lock stations along the way.

Marina equipment, cleaning & haul out

Costs of using marina facilities

Choosing a well-equipped marina means that you can have the lifting and handling equipment on site to take your boat out of the water. Cleaning is required every 1 to 3 years and having the equipment available where your boat is based will make a big difference. Haul out will set you back around $1,000 CAD per year. Launching after work is completed should cost about the same. If you do the cleaning work yourself, with a high-pressure cleaner, a few squeegees, rollers, masking tape and antifouling paint, you will rarely spend more than $400 CAD on supplies (expect at least $1,000 CAD extra to get the job done by a professional). You can take the opportunity to check the condition of the anodes, which are relatively inexpensive to replace.


Note that in Canada you will also have to have your boat shrink-wrapped and winterized, which can cost between $800-$2,000 CAD per year.

Servicing and safety equipment: the routine maintenance

Routine maintenance of a boat

Even if you don’t use your boat often, routine maintenance is essential, and your boat will need to be serviced once a year. This includes an oil change, as well as replacing the fuel, oi and air filters. Once again, prices will vary greatly depending on whether you can do the work yourself or call in a professional. You should expect to pay between $700-$5,000 CAD per year. If a professional comes from a distance, it’s likely they’ll charge for travel costs in addition to parts and labour. Don’t forget to regularly replace safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, or batteries, which have a lifespan of about 5 years. That is an average cost of about $300 CAD per year.

How much do boat fuel and licence fees cost?

Fueling & licencing a boat

This will depend on how many cruises you do. Even if houseboats are generally more fuel-efficient (less than 5 litres per hour) than yachts, the fuel budget is not to be neglected, especially because the waterfront gas stations often take advantage of their privileged location to charge high rates. If you cruise for 100 hours during the season, this represents about $1500 CAD.

If your boat is based in Canada, you’ll also need to pay for a Pleasure Craft Operator's Card paid to the "Pleasure Craft Licence Centre" of Transport Canada for the right to use your boat along the waterways. This is due as soon as the boat is moved to its base. For one licence, the standard fee is $50 CAD, but you can save money when you buy up to four licences at once. The cost covers unlimited test retries and is good for life.

How much does a boat insurance cost?

Cost to insure your boat

Insurance is a very important cost to consider when buying a boat. Even if it is not compulsory, many ports require the boat to be covered by a liability insurance before they’ll accept it. This will cost about 1.5% of the boat's market value per year, i.e. around $6,000 CAD per year for a boat worth $400,000 CAD. Most companies require a survey before covering a boat of a certain age. This is a wise precaution anyway, as it gives you an estimate of the condition and real value of your boat. They survey will set you back around $800 CAD.

The yearly cost of owning a boat

Yearly cost of owning a boat

In total, and if we do not take into account unforeseen circumstances or the improvements that you will  be tempted to make on the boat, the costs described above amount to an estimated budget of $23,200 CAD/year. Of course, it’s possible to lower this cost, for example by doing most of the maintenance yourself, but this the average amount a boat owner should expect to have to spend on their boat.

Is it more cost effective to buy or rent a boat?

Should you buy or rent?

Such costs can put a lot of people off, so should you buy a boat or just keep renting? It all depends on how much you’d use your own boat! If you see a boat as a floating cottage, and you have the time and skills to look after it, don't hesitate. If, on the other hand, you want to cruise where you want and without constraints, renting may be best for you.

Le Boat’s Ownership Program: an alternative to buying a boat privately

Ownership Program

Le Boat offers an alternative ownership solution thanks to our Ownership Program, which has many advantages, not least the fact that all maintenance costs are covered by us!

What does it involve? Buy the boat that suits you and we’ll take care of the rental, maintenance and running costs. In return, you’ll receive an income of 6% of the value of the boat per year. The program is designed to last for 7 years, after which you can choose to extend the contract, sell or recover the boat. Most importantly, during the program you have an average of 8 weeks of cruising time per year on your boat or from a base of your choice. If you purchase your boat in Canada you will receive 12 weeks of cruising per year - 6 weeks in Canada & 6 weeks in Europe.

If one were to book a Horizon 2 Cruiser holiday in Canada or Europe —average weekly rental in low season $2500 – high season $4000+…times 12 weeks vacation a year.  At the end of the 7-year period we will offer our boat owners a Guaranteed Buy-Back for 50% of the cost, excluding taxes.


As you can see, there are several ways of considering ownings a boat, depending on its use, your means and the time you can devote to it. The most obvious solutions are not necessarily the best or the least expensive. For example, for "pleasure" use without constraints, an Ownership Program offers many advantages to limit or even erase all the costs associated with the boat.