boats 23 affordability

Experts say that it all depends on:

1. The type of boat you purchase2. The amenities you put on board3. Your lifestyle

For the most part, recent surveys have shown, boat buyers limit their purchases to the amount they can afford easily per month, if they have to finance. Given todays economy, many boat buyers are opting smaller, less expensive craft that they can purchase for a reasonable price in cash.

For example, you can purchase a used 12-foot Tracker, right now, for $499, while the more aggressive Sea Ark if $1,795, however, that craft is equipped with an engine. A Lowe V-Hull would cost you $999 while G3s range in price from $575 to $875. All of these craft are aluminum and all of them are affordable.

So, as the experts note, if thats all you need, then thats exactly the boat you will purchase. More importantly, though, these boats can be equipped with smaller engines that literally sip gas so that you can make the whole season on one or maybe two five-gallon tanks for gasoline. Given todays $3.70 per gallon price for gasoline, you will spend between $18.50 and $37 for an entire seasons gasoline.

Even at todays elevated prices, thats a bargain. And, as was pointed out to us during our research for this piece, even if your craft is a major 50-footer or more that burns gasoline at a rate of a-gallon-an-hour, you probably still wont feel the sting for several reasons. These reasons include the fact that you:

1. Can easily afford the added gasoline cost. Even if gasoline goes up 20-cents-per-gallon and your craft burns that gallon per hour, it will still take five hours before you notice any impact of the increase in the price of gas2. Can easily anchor wherever you would like and use your 50-footer as a hotel/restaurant as yuo can buy food and eat aboard ship while taking your tender to the nearest port and either taking part of the nightlife or seeing the sites and shopping3. Are not likely to use more than two fillups during the entire boating season. Researchers have found that even the bigger cruisers seldom use more than two fillups and if your tanks are 100 to 150 gallons, it will cost you between $750 and $1100 for the entire season. Spread over the average boating season -- about 10 weeks -- this means you will be spending about $75 to $110 per week, or about the cost of the fillup of an SUV or four-wheel-drive pickup with a cap, both vehicles that cant serve as centers of activity.

Interestingly, the larger the boat, the more likely it is to be used for activities such as diving, snorkeling, sightseeing and hanging out, all things you would normally do at a local hotel which will cost you far in excess of the amount you will spend to keep your craft running. This brings us to the first point made in this article -- the type of boat you purchase. Since its obvious that you have a bit of discretionary money to spend -- or can make the payments every month -- then it follows that a 50-footer can act as your floating home/hotel/playground.

Even though you may have purchased a boat that is in the 50-foot category, youll find that since you can travel wherever -- depending on channels and draw, of course -- you would like, you can use your boat as the center of your activity and that means savings in the long run.

How is this possible? Think about this: lets say you choose a trip to the Caribbean where the average hotel room may be $250-plus per night (were not talking about the best accommodations, either). And, lets say that it takes you about 20 hours or cruising to get to the site where you plan to anchor. With a fuel-use rate of about $4 per hour -- were assuming a slight headwind and some wave interaction -- it will cost you about $80 to get your anchorage.

Once youre at your achorage and youve tied up to your mooring site -- depending on the amount the marina charges per night (the amount will vary with the marina, location and the deal you may have arranged through a travel service) -- youll probably find you are saving at least $100 or more per night (it might be more or less) and with that savings youll find that you can stock up on some great food or drink, if you plan to eat aboard, or, if you plan to go native and eat ashore, youll find that the savings from your anchorage will assist you in finding the best eating in an area. Menatime, youll also find that you can do any activity you want to do, as long as it deals with the water such as diving or fishing -- things you can do for free from your own craft -- for free. If you want ot play a round of golf, youll probably find you will be paying full ticket for the privilege.

Of course there are other ways to save, such as equipping your craft correctly from the start. An enteretainment center that is built around a 50-inch flat panel plasma or LED screen and 5.1 surround sound will go a long way to make your trip much more enjoyable and it will also help you to keep your money in your pocket, rather than put it into the pockets of some nameless, faceless hotel chain. Keeping your money in your pocket as long as you can, of course, is always the best way to travel because it means that when it comes time for gifts or time for small extras, such as an extra night ashore at a nightspot, then youll have the money and you wont have to worry about a credit card or hotel bill thats past the moon.

Finally, it comes down to your individual lifestyle. If youre the type of yachtsman or boater who likes to arrive at an anchorage and who then likes to live life to the hilt then you will find that any of the savings you have managed because you have taken your own 50-footer and housing with you will be used up quickly. If, on the other hand, you can take things a little more slowly and who likes to keep things simple, then you will find real savings.