Calculator - Step by Step Guide

The Sailo Calculator is designed to provide a quick estimate of ownership costs based on basic boating information, and to allow for more accurate estimates using specific inputs for your vessel and circumstances. You can then look into the implications of chartering your vessel, or renting a similar one from time-to-time. This step-by-step guide will help you with the various sections, tabs, and inputs.


Cost of Ownership


To begin, you will need to enter the basic information about your current or potential vessel. These inputs can be found on the left-hand side of the “Total” tab. Are you about the destination, or the journey? If you picked destination, then power is the way to go, but if you’d rather enjoy the journey, then a sailboat is perfect for you. Now fill in the cost of your dream boat, the build year, anticipated usage, and desired years of future ownership. Remember that the average usage for boats in the U.S. is under 15 days per year.


The next tab in the guide is related to your financing costs. The assumed interest rate is based on the average current market rate, and we have assumed a ten year financing period with a 20% downpayment. If you have already locked in amazing terms for your loan, this is the place to make the adjustments. If not, the standard assumptions are good for a ballpark estimate. Keep in mind that it is always important to shop around for the best rate when undergoing a major purchase such as a boat.  


Just like an automobile or a home, you are required to have insurance if you own a boat to cover both damages and liability. We have assumed an average percentage of the market value to determine your insurance premiums. Be sure to shop around for the best rates for you. You will also be required to register your vessel with the state, and may choose to document the vessel with the U.S. Coast Guard which will require renewal fees either annually or every few years. You should research the specific registration requirements for your particular state.  We have assumed an annual renewal fee for ease of use.


Yes, even the government gets their hand on your boat. You will pay sales tax on the price of a new or used vessel. The rate depends on the state where you purchase and register the boat. Some states charge personal property tax each year on the value of the boat as well.  You will only be able to take depreciation as an offset if you choose to charter your vessel as an incorporated business. To fully take advantage of this, you must not only operate a business, but also make a genuine effort to earn a profit.  


You will have to keep your new prized possession somewhere, and that choice will impact the cost of your ownership. Whether you are on a mooring, at a dock, on a drydock, or prefer to trailer your boat, you can fine tune the rates for your specific circumstances. If a yacht club is in future, be sure to factor in the annual dues and minimums in addition to docking fees.


Maintenance is always the big wild card when owning a boat. The calculator assumes that maintenance is a function of the total purchase price of your vessel. In addition, you will have spring prep costs and winterization costs depending on where you are located, which you can fine tune here.


For powerboaters, fuel costs can be substantial depending on how you choose to operate your boat. On this tab, you can adjust fuel consumption rates for your particular boat as well as how many hours on average you will run your vessel when you take her out. Remember that every boat has an optimal cruising speed, and running above that speed can significantly increase your fuel consumption. For sailors, fuel consumption is generally much lower, however, many sailors use their engine more than they would like to admit. The price-per-gallon is based on a national average, but if you know the cost at your marina, feel free to update it here.

Add ons 

Now that you’ve decided to purchase a boat, you will soon realize that trips to your local marine store can quickly add up. Safety is important, and you should check the requirements dictated by the U.S. Coast Guard. Items such as life jackets, a VHF radio, flares, and other safety items are imperative to have on board. You may also choose to have a dinghy or tender with your boat to make trips ashore easier while on a mooring or at anchor. Finally, electronics such as a radar, chartplotter, and anemometer are costly and will require replacement and upgrading over time.  


The final tab looks at some other costs that you may incur when purchasing a vessel. If you are looking to purchase a used vessel, we recommend that you have a professional survey the vessel to ensure that everything is in working order. For those that have less boating experience, we encourage you to enroll in a basic safe boating course, as well as coursework with a power squadron or sailing school. Finally, if you are planning to have a crew handle your yacht, we have included a spot for their salaries.


Charter Profit

The Charter Profit tab looks at the potential revenue that you could earn by chartering your boat. The average price is based on Sailo’s database of boats. You can adjust the number of days you wish to charter as well. Make sure to take into account your own usage of the boat when considering chartering. If you plan to use it frequently on the weekends, you likely won’t pick up a lot of charter business. Remember that if you choose to charter it out occasionally, you will be considered a hobby business by the IRS, and will not be able to take full advantage of the different tax deductions from depreciation and expenses.


Rent vs. Buy

The Rent vs. Buy tab gives you a recommendation on whether you should rent or buy a given boat based on how many days you plan to use it. For many boat lovers, renting wouldn’t cross their mind, but it is worth considering if you only plan a couple of outings a year, or are relatively new to the sport. Check out our article Should I Rent a Boat or Buy One? to find out more about how to use this tab!