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If you are undertaking a large project boat or even a smaller refit to your existing boat you will want to keep the costs down as much as possible.
In this article I am going to give you some tips on how to keep more of your money in your pocket and not through it in that hole in the water where your boat sits!

I have a system that seems to prove me right every time. When I want to carry out some work on my boat I hazard a guess at how long it might take and how much it may cost. Now, what I do next (my system) is I multiple the time and cost by 3.

Does that sound like a lot?

Well, it seems to work every time for me but you may be a better estimator so it could be different.

What’s interesting is a friend of mine that is renovating a narrowboat experienced the same thing, time and cost was three times his original estimate. Something to think about when planning your project.

So, how can we keep down costs on projects and general boat repairs?

Here are some hard won tips from the field.

Tip 1
Anything that has the word Marine associated with it is going to be twice the price. Buying from a chandlery is going to cost you an arm and a leg and its worth noting that much of the same things can be purchased from other non-marine places at much reduced prices.

Take for example a 12 volt water pump to run your domestic water system. Most chandlers will stock these and happily sell you one at a cost.

Can you get it cheaper?

Think about other uses the pump may be used for, maybe to run the water system on a caravan?
Go to a camping and caravan store and I bet you could find the same pump cheaper.
If you think about it boats use many of the same systems that caravans use so check out prices in these stores before you buy from a chandlers, you could be surprised at how much money you can save.

Tip 2
Some times the type of boat can have an effect on how much money you can save on a project.

Let's look at an example of refitting a galley.

We will use an example of a sailing boat first. Sailing boats can be small and have a rounded hull shape so the inside of the boat is rounded. For this reason refitting the galley would require a custom build by a carpenter or boat builder and would be expensive.

Now let's look at refitting a galley on a Dutch barge or narrowboat. These vessels have a very flat bottom hull and straight sides much like found in a house so buying kitchen units from MFI or Ikea could fit nicely and work out much cheaper.

As you can see some boat types offer savings in areas you would not expect just because of there design.

Tip 3
If you are doing a major project, lets say converting an old open barge where you need to build the superstructure and layout of the interior, you could design everything yourself and employ welders or do the welding yourself if you can.
Now I'm not saying this can't be done successfully but experience shows that this major work is best left to professional boat designers and builders. Employing these services will cost more money so how will that save you money?

Well, if you get these major things wrong then it will cost you many times more than you would have originally saved.
That lovely looking, well constructed superstructure you built on your open barge may be many hours of hard work then when you set off on your maiden voyage you find you can't get under the first bridge because you built it to high!

It happens, believe me, and the cost to put this right will be far more than employing the right people in the first place.
This is just one example and there are many others that could go wrong if you or your builders do not have marine knowledge.

Tip 4
If you are doing a complete refit inside your new or current boat you can save a great deal of money on heating costs by making sure you insulate your boat well.
This is very important on steel, ferrocement and GRP boats. Wood is a natural insulating material but you should still add more whilst you have the chance.

The best type of insulation is the spray foam, of course any insulation you use must be fire retardant or if an accident does happen you will be very warm!

You will see a large reduction in heating costs by insulating your boat well. Don't forget you will be living aboard so heating is always going to be a cost in our lovely English climate!

Tip 5
If you need to carry out work on the hull of your boat below the waterline then you may need to remove your boat from the water using a crane or dry dock. This will obviously cost you money but there are cheaper ways if the work you need to do is not a major job.

As an example lets say you want to give the hull of your steel boat a new coat of paint.
Find a slipway that dries out when the tide goes out and put your boat on the slipway at high tide. As soon as the tide goes out and the hull has dried out (a warm summer’s day is best) start painting.
The paint should be dry enough by the time the tide comes in again if you paint quickly!

If your boat will not stand up on a slipway you should let the boat dry out against the slip wall if there is one and then paint one side of the hull on one tide, move the boat around and paint the next side of the hull on the next tide.
The same applies to say a harbor wall.

Other situations where you could use this technique is replacing anodes or changing a through hull fitting such as a seacock.

You could save yourself a lot of money paying for cranes or dry docks as use of a slipway is cheap and using a harbor wall or riverbank can be free.

These are just a few ways to save money on projects and refits and I hope these are of use to you and save you some of your hard earned money.

Do you have any money saving tips?

If so please share them with everyone.


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3.20 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."