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The Ultimate Truth about the Cost of Yacht Ownership in the BVI

cost of yacht ownership

An Arm and a Leg or Smooth Sailing

What is the cost of yacht ownership and maintenance?

“Sailboats are for rich people, if you want to be able to do that, go to a private school with the rich kids.”

As a 13 year-old fresh in high school, I recall a teacher saying this to me in response to my attempt to attend a regatta that I’d been invited to sail in. I have learnt that this is the general perception the world holds about sailing and quite frankly, they’re not wrong.

In today’s age of Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, we’ve all seen the viral poster stating ‘if you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some to spare, you are among the top 8 percent wealthiest in the world.’ So yes, you’re going to need money to enter the arena of yacht ownership – there is no arguing that. But just how much money does it take to maintain a boat?

There is a popular theory that chartering a boat is cheaper than ownership. This statement presumes a lot, but it’s arguably true. Nevertheless, one major factor in boat purchase is deciding its intended function.

A quick glance at any boats for sale will show prices ranging between thousands and millions, therefore, the purpose of the boat must be established before purchase. In my experience, there are three classes of recreational boat users here in BVI:

– Those that want to sail for periods of time that include staying on board the boat be it for a night(s) or week(s) at a time – Some who want to run day trips to visit islands, fetch supplies, and/or provide diving or fishing trips – Those that desire the regatta world

The lowest cost entry-level boats are going to be day-use vessels – by eliminating the toilet, cooking and sleeping facilities, you reduce the cost of a boat significantly. A person interested in just getting out for the day can go with a small motorboat for $3000 as the initial cost. A sailboat or motorboat that will have basic sleeping, eating and toilet accommodations might start more in the $20,000 range.


Yachts for racing are going to vary significantly in cost depending on the age and tech level of the gear fitted, but a basic IC24 with full kit can be had today from $15,000 to $20,000.These are merely purchase costs. Subsequently, we have the maintenance to consider and this is where a boat owner can incur major expense differences.

Boat builders that offer production level vessels for sale have taken a variety of different approaches to attract buyers. Vessels range from simple designs that are cost effective to maintain through to intricate constructions of high quality that are immensely beautiful – their beauty paralleled by their maintenance expense.

Builders whose boats you see commonly represented in the charter trades such as Beneteau, Jeanneau, Bavaria, Lagoon and Robertson & Caine all offer yachts with a minimum of woodwork inside and out; very simple sail systems with only two sails and one mast – boats that are cheap and simple to own.

Yachts intended more for offshore work such as Hylas, Oyster, Tayana, and Hinckley are going to steer toward the high end of maintenance costs. In general, between 6 – 12 percent of the value of a yacht per year would be an accurate budget for comprehensive maintenance.

The truly affluent yacht owners will solicit paid maintenance for their boats and have work conducted on schedule by professionals. However, a majority will attempt to manage the regular maintenance and occasional repairs themselves.

It’s interesting to note that while boats vary widely from one design to another and there are a plethora of manufactures represented on any given yacht, generally, the basic systems all work the same way.

When contemplating yacht ownership, the important thing is to review your budget, plan how you will utilise the boat, and factor in maintenance expenditure, whether doing it yourself or having the good fortune to employ people to manage the service for you.

Brian Duff, Broker - BVI Yacht Sales

Brian Duff, Broker - BVI Yacht Sales

With experience from owning a variety of yachts, sailing on almost every type of boat out there, and accumulating many thousands of miles on the race course or cruising, Brian has worked in the yacht industry for 18 years. He has an intricate knowledge of yachts and he applies this to help his clients fully understand the boats he sells.
Brian Duff, Broker - BVI Yacht Sales

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