Centurion Boats is a manufacturer of industry leading wakeboard and wakesurf powerboats. When you visit one of our many dealers, you can test-drive our different models so that you can decide exactly what you want on your custom boat! Additionally, you can design a boat online, outfitting it with an array of different options to suit your sport or leisure needs!
Part of that involved trading up our little 17-foot runabout for a 24-foot wakeboat. It wasn't the most expensive wakeboat on the market by any means, but it was the largest check I had ever written up until that point, about $80,000 when you add in tax, title, and license.
It's now been three seasons and about 330 hours on the engine and I think we can now step back and take a look at that decision. Since this is a financial blog, we'll focus on the financial aspects. So in that spirit, here are 10 financial lessons we learned or relearned from buying a wakeboat. The first seven are a bit negative, the last three are more positive.
Let's start with the obvious. The best two days in a boat owner's life are the day she bought the boat and the day she sold it. A boat is a hole in the water that you throw money into. BOAT stands for Bring Out Another Thousand. This is all true. We owned a boat for 5 years before buying this one. We were well aware of the financial issues of boating. We knew that was all going to get worse by upgrading. But even so, I have been surprised by just how much more expensive this has been. This thing GUZZLES gas (about 2 miles per gallon when the ballast isn't full for surfing). Parts are ridiculously expensive. A propeller is $600. A little plastic piece might be $130. Carpet, upholstery, and gel coat repairs are crazy expensive. Don't kid yourself. If you buy a boat you will hemorrhage money. We certainly have. Which brings us to lesson # 2:
If you are not a rich person you have no business boating. I made a mistake on a boating forum once expressing surprise at how many people were willing to finance a boat purchase. They lit into me like I was insane. A later poll showed that about half of the people on the forum were financing their boat (including many that were much less expensive than mine). I cannot imagine after paying for gas, maintenance, accessories, repairs, storage, and license to then go and make a big old boat payment. It would be terrible to be writing a check in January for a boat you hadn't seen for three months knowing you won't be putting it in the water for another five months. Like many other things in life, boating is completely optional. It is not compatible with financial success on a middle class income. It belongs in the same category as heli-skiing, having horses, owning a second home, and flying planes. If you can't afford doing any of that, don't buy a boat. In fact, heli-skiing is way cheaper than boating.
As noted above, a boat payment in addition to all the other boating costs is crazy. But more importantly, saving up for luxuries is a great financial habit to get into. If you actually save up for something BEFORE buying it, you're more likely to understand exactly how much (in money, time, and life energy) it really costs. In fact, there will be a lot of luxuries you'll just decide not to buy at all as you save up for them.
There is another benefit to paying cash. Imagine, if you will, that we ran into some sort of serious financial issue. Not only do we avoid the curse of having a boat payment in that situation, but the boat actually becomes a blessing because we can sell it, effectively trading it for a lump sum of cash. No, it won't be anywhere near what we paid for it, but we could live comfortably for many months on what we could sell our boat for. I think it's okay to borrow a reasonable amount of money for your education (1X expected gross income) and your main home (2X expected gross income). But don't borrow for anything else, especially a boat.
Every year is a little different, but the point is that we could buy brand new skis, winter clothing, and season lift tickets for the whole family every year for what we spend boating, and that doesn't include the cost of the boat at all.
The good news is depreciation can be minimized a bit or even reversed if you're willing to buy used. Our old boat was a 2002 bought in 2010 for $6,000 and sold in 2015 for $7,500. Crazy I know, but a true story.
I often remind readers that in personal finance, it is the big rocks that matter. By this I mean it isn't the lattes that are causing you to not become wealthy, especially on a physician income. It's the cost of your housing, the cost of your transportation, the cost of your debt, and the cost of your childrens' schooling. Well, a boat is a big rock too. If you take up boating before you become wealthy, it may very well keep you from ever becoming wealthy. You can blow a lot of money on little rocks (minor purchases and less expensive hobbies) for the cost of one big rock like a boat.
The second principle is to reward yourself periodically for doing a good job with your finances. Sometimes, particularly before you become wealthy, rewards can be small things, like a meal at a restaurant or even a candy bar. Other times, it can be something expensive like a boat or a trip to Belize. All work and no play makes Jack a dull (and very unhappy) boy.
So figure out ways to use that to your advantage. You don't need the best house, the best car, the best boat, AND the best vacations in the neighborhood. Just pick one of them and focus on that when making the inevitable comparisons in your mind. Or better yet, try to become a little more immune to what people around you are doing financially.
If you can afford to buy something, for cash, without keeping you from reaching your most important financial goals, and it will actually make you happier, then go buy it. For us, that item was a boat. We have had some absolutely incredible times in the last three seasons with that boat. We rarely go with just our immediate family. We bring siblings, cousins, neighbors, the local Scout Troop, friends, and our kids' friends with us. We share an experience that many times they could not afford, and that makes us happy. We go to wild, untamed places and have incredible adventures. We learn new skills and are bonded together. 330 hours, and that's just the time the engine was running. If we averaged 3 hours a day of engine time, that's 110 days, or about 37 days a year. A month's worth of experiences, each of the last three years. When I look at it like that, maybe I can understand why people buy a wakeboat even when they can't afford it!
Loved the post and the family photos! You only have so many chances to give your kids these experiences as they grow up too fast. My dad bought an inexpensive boat when I was four years old, and I was water skiing along wth my four siblings every summer in Iowa. One of my favorite childhood memories. Thanks again for the post!
I joined a boat club a couple years ago and have loved it. It is $275 a month (plus gas) and you get your choice of center console, deck boat, or pontoon. All boats are less than 2 years old and there are multiple marinas in the area so we can go out in the ocean, bay, river, or lake depending on what you are looking to do. We live in an area where you can be out on the water about 10 months of the year. There is no wakeboard boat option but if you are just looking to get out on the water and cruise around with the family then this has been a great option for us.
Lots of fond memories at Jordanelle. We were the ones on stand-up paddle boards getting rocked by the wakeboats. I found Jordanelle to be an interesting locale for social observation. No matter your socioeconomic status, everyone could enjoy the reservoir. If you were dirt poor, you could still drive to the beach in the old beater, grill hot dogs and splash around in the water. If you had some more money, you could kayak or stand up paddle board. And if you had a whole bunch of money, you could cruise around the lake on a wakeboat. Good times.
The big sailboat does cost us 2800 or less in Marina fees but that gets it in the water ready to go whenever we can get there as in another comment above. We buy 5 gallons of diesel every two or three years. Yeah for wind power! Of course we never get over 8 knots even with the iron sail so wake boarding is definitely out of the question.
WCI,Thanks for sharing your financial experience with owning a wake boat. I believe in the next 2-5 years we will likely be purchasing some sort of floating apparatus. $10k/yr in expenses is very pricey but if everything else is in order financially, why not splurge on some experiences in our lives
Costs vary widely, depending on type of boat and where you keep her. In the Northeast most boats are hauled every winter adding fall decommissioning and spring commissioning costs. We sail so fuel costs are minimal, but sailboats have there own maintenance issues that drive up expenses.
Are they hard core wake boats Heck no. Do they deliver all the versatility and family fun of a bowrider Heck yes. Any of the boats in this lineup will score high among families with boating interests that go beyond wake sports alone, but still make a great beginner boat for those who love the sport.
The Heyday WT-2DC is one of the few dedicated watersports boats that offers fans a way to get into the game without blowing the budget. Its priced 30- to 50-percent below many competitors, but has a hull designed to maximize wake-throwing displacement with an angled transom that adds curl to the wake.
The biggest boat ever built by Malibu, the 26 LVS is all new for 2023 and is one of the largest dedicated wakesports boats around. You want to be king of the lake Here you go. The 26 LVS has an amazing 17-person capacity, carries an eye-popping 6,100 pounds of ballast, and powers across the water with a 607-hp 6.2L direct-injected Monsoon LT4 engine. 59ce067264