Monday, January 30, 2012

The Sinking Fund

I think that when we first looked into having a narrowboat, we were advised that the annual running costs would be between two and three thousand pounds a year.  That’s excluding depreciation.  With hindsight does it look as though the advice was about right?

Based on the advice we got, at the outset we set up a separate account which we laughingly call the Sinking Fund and planned to put three grand a year in it.  I suppose the first thing to say is that having set ourselves this budget, then that affected how much we spent.  After all we could have gone for a central London mooring, or one in a BW marina, and that would have blown the budget right out of the water.  However by shopping around we have found good moorings, first at High Line Yachting in Iver and now at Crick which cost well under £2k.  And that reminds me that the other controllable factor is how long a boat you choose to buy.  Big costs like mooring and licencing are charged by the foot (or metre).

So our sinking fund has  to cover

Fixed annual costs like insurance, boat licence, mooring fees, RCR membership

Diesel, coal

Servicing costs – filters, oil, antifreeze etc

Unforeseen repairs – I mostly do them myself but parts and tools cost money

Improvements to furniture and fittings in the boat

Major cost that occur every few years like painting and blacking, new batteries

and so it goes on.  We rarely escape from a visit to a chandlery without spending more than we planned.

So how has our three grand per annum held up?  Well, not too bad actually.  Some years we spend less and that helps us towards paying for other years when we have big jobs like having Herbie’s bottom blacked, or repainting.  I was interested last year to be shown some of the annual costs charged by boat share companies.  Suffice it to say they were far above what we manage on.

This year we’ll overspend our three grand because it’s bottom blacking time , and I think we’re going to lash out on a two pack epoxy job. There are lots of arguments for and against epoxy blacking, but for me the choice is not what's good about epoxy, but what’s bad about bitumen based blacking.  With bitumen I’ve learned to consider it a success if I can get out of the boatyard where the job has been done without scraping some off!

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