10 great money saving tips for the savvy boat owner

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As a boat owner, you’ll know only too well that you haven’t chosen the cheapest hobby. And with the doom and gloom of economic forecasts, you may well be wondering if you’ll still be able to afford it in times to come. Yes, there are many costs, but the good news is that with a few changes here and there – to help your cruising budget go further, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to carry on sailing through good and bad times.

Here, Mike James – an independent writer with Solent-based yacht-charter specialists Motion Charters – discusses ten of the best money saving tips…

  1. Get the most out of your moorings
    If you’ve paid an annual mooring fee, and your insurance company will cover it, why not leave your boat in the water for the coming winter? Who knows, next spring or summer, you might be able to get a cheaper deal to haul her out and re-antifoul her.
    Have you thought of subletting your mooring while you’re away? Before heading off on a cruise, try subletting your mooring to a friend, or advertise it through the harbour master. He may know of people who need a short-term mooring.
  1. No price is ever fixed
    Talk to your marina about the coming year’s berthing fees. If you think the rates are too high, a spot of haggling may just get you a better result. If there are a number of other berthing opportunities around that you can throw into the negotiations, this may help your cause.
  1. Change your finance arrangements
    If you used credit to buy your boat, now is a good time to try and renegotiate the terms of your contract, changer lender or even pay off the loan early.
  1. Pay smart
    If you pay boat insurance and marina berthing fees monthly, you’ll be charged extra for this (around 7%). Be smart and pay using a credit card that has a long period of 0% interest on purchases. If the card is paid off before interest is charged, you’ll have saved that 7% – which could turn out to be a pretty penny.
  1. Sell off surplus stuff
    If you have a shed stuffed with old boating kit that you’re never going to use, why not liquidise the surplus assets? Ebay, Gumtree and your boating club’s noticeboard are the obvious contenders but there are many other ways to sell second hand boating equipment.
  1. Chafe avoidance
    Chafe is the number one enemy of expensive marine ropes, so here’s a little money saving tip. Make sure your mooring lines have a fair lead and protect them with hose that slides neatly over. Avoid leaving lines rigged as slips for long periods of time, as these will chafe a lot quicker than you think.
  1. Looking after sails and rigging
    It’s easier than you think to repair minor damage to your sails. All you need is a good supply of sticky-backed Dacron, a palm and some sailmakers’ needles. Mending small tears, adding chafe patches and reinforcing batten pockets are simple jobs and they give you the chance to inspect your sails to make sure there aren’t any major problems that need to be addressed.
  1. Watch out for flapping and flogging
    Flapping, or flogging, is the biggest single cause of sail damage. The saying, ‘a flappy sail is an unhappy sail’ is a warning that all boat owners should take note of. Obviously, some flapping will occur when you’re hoisting the sails, tacking or reefing, but, in order to keep your sails in the best possible condition and retain their designed shape for a lot longer, our advice it that you keep flapping to a minimum.

    It’s a good idea to reef early – sheet sails on as soon as they’re hoisted, and don’t motor sail to windward with the mainsail flapping (doing this only means you’ll burn a lot more fuel as the sail causes additional drag).

    If you don’t think this tip will help save you money, it’s as well to remember that almost all top racing yachts log the number of hours each sail is used. They also monitor the number of tacks.

  1. Keep the sun off the sails
    Sunlight can quickly destroy a good sail, so be wise and invest in a headsail cover to prolong the sail’s life. Many a fine sail has suffered an early demise through ultraviolet degradation. Also, when the boat is not underway, never be tempted to leave the boom cover off. PUT IT ON! And always check that your lazy bag system is zipped over the sail at all times when stowed.
  1. Extend the life of your halyards
    If a halyard, or sheet, is looking a little worse for wear, either where it exits the mast or at the point where it’s held by a clutch, you may not need to spend money replacing it – you could rather consider end-for-ending it. Or you could also get it ‘sheathed’, with a sleeve that covers the area that uses the clutch. This will make for greater grip and lengthen the life of the rope.