Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How much does a boat cost

I like to think of the purchase price of the boat as an investment.  I know it probably won’t increase in value, but for me it is an investment. Whether it was a “Venti Carmel macchiato with two pumps and whipped” or a new issue of Go Boating, I would be spending the money on something.  I figure the money I spent on the boat and the hours of pleasure I get from it are a lot cheaper than hours I could be spending on a psychiatrist couch.  Come to think of it, it’s not just an investment but a health benefit.

So let’s be real. The boat is using money that could be gaining interest (small as that might be) in an investment account. It’s always good to remind yourself where the money is going and how much. Not that you’ll care, but at least you won’t be surprised.

 There are other costs which I like to break out into “variable costs” and “fixed costs”.  Variable costs are items like fuel and oil. The amount of money it costs me is based on how much I use the boat. Anything that is consumable, time limited or based on wear and tear or hours used, can be considered a variable cost. 

Fixed costs are just that, fixed, no matter how much I use the boat. This can include slips, insurance, license etc.  I still have to pay the fixed costs even if I leave the boat in my yard on the trailer.  And don’t forget to throw in a few extra costs like GPS, charts, skis etc…..

Insurance is not only a fixed cost it is a major cost on some boats.  Make sure you check buying the insurance before you buy the boat. Don’t commit to the deal and find out you can’t buy the insurance because the boat is too big or too fast. I own a specialty insurance agency, take my word on this. 

Last and probably more important than any other factor is your personal preferences.  What do I really want in a boat? This can actually override all the common sense factors; it’s the wild card in the “selection deck”.  It is very important, but don’t let it get in the way of buying a good boat.

Make sure the boat you buy is something you can handle and afford. Choose something that fits the way you live and where you live.  Remember, if you can’t afford the boat or can’t handle the boat, it will sit in the driveway and never see the pounding waves. And if you just have to get it, buy it. But if you are not sure, keep looking, there’s always another boat coming into the used boat marina. 

Want to figure how much your boat cost?  Send me a note and I’ll email you a cost analysis spread sheet. You can plug in the numbers and see what your boat is costing you. Or what that new boat you are thinking about buying, might cost.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014



FEBRUARY 12, 2014 - SUN 'n FUN - Lakeland, Florida - In celebration of the 40th year of SUN ‘n FUN, the Cat Shot and Sprint competition is returning to SUN ‘n FUN! A short 40 mile course featuring both a timed takeoff and timed circuit around the course from a flying start will be open to piston aircraft. Sharp piloting skills and precision navigation is required on such a short course to be successful. Classes will be based on participation. Participation will be limited due to tight schedule constraints during the April 3rd Thursday afternoon airshow. A mandatory pilot briefing will be conducted on Thursday morning, April 3rd. Make plans now!

CLICK HERE for registration and more information.

Reprinted from Sun 'n Fun's press release

If you are planning on participating, make sure you have the correct insurance coverage for your aircraft!  Contact SkySmith or your broker with questions.

Monday, February 3, 2014

What’s in your motorcycle garage toolbox?

If you are planning to do any work on your Harley (or other motorcycle), you need to make sure you have good quality, basic tools and equipment. I’m not talking about outfitting your garage like a professional bike shop, but enough to allow you to tackle most owner projects.  And…you can never have too many tools in your shop, right? 

You can work on your bike while its setting on its side stand or a good option is a hydraulic lift that looks kind of like a jack and fits under the center of the bike and lifts against the frame rails.  Stability is the key, make sure if you use the small jack style lift you have the bike supported by additional hands and tie down straps.

If you have the room, a complete “ride on” bike lift is handy. Harbor Freight sells a manually operated hydraulic lift for motorcycles up to 1,000 pounds for around $300, on sale.  With the ride on lift you still need tie downs to make sure the bike is secure. 

Everyone has a tool preference and whether it is Snap-on, Matco, Craftsman or whatever, make sure they feel right.  It is hard to imagine that a wrench isn’t a wrench, but they aren’t.  Even in the same brand, there are different designs.  You need to try out the tools and see how they feel in your hand. If you buy the low end they often have sharper edges and are uncomfortable to put much pressure on.  If you can’t grip them comfortably, they are a waste of money, what ever you paid.  Cheap tools are also prone to rounding and slipping on nuts and bolts.  Usually good quality tools have a good warranty, often lifetime. Breaks or becomes damaged, take it back for a replacement.  Bad tools end up being dangerous and more expensive than buying the better quality right from the beginning. 

Here is a short list of tools that should be in your shop.  Everyone you talk to will have more, less and a different opinion, but this is a start.  And you’ll need both metric and SAE. Both will be on your bike.  Sometimes you can buy most of what you need in one complete set, on sale for a very reasonable price.  Again, make sure the tools are comfortable to grip.   If you get a chance, take a look at Chicago Brand’s new open end ratcheting wrench.  They make a very handy tool for tight spaces!

Short list:
Screwdriver set (straight and Phillips)
Combination (box and open end) wrench set up to ¾ inch to start.
Ratcheting wrench set
Socket and ratchet set, 3/8 inch drive
TORX driver set metric and SAE (get the anti-theft versions with the hollow centers)
TORX screw driver set
Hex wrench set (Allen wrench) in metric and SAE.
Hex drives that fit the 3/8 ratchet
Torque wrench
Diagonal cutters
Locking pliers (Vice Grips)
Medium sized ball peen hammer
Plastic or rubber mallet
Adjustable wrenches (Crescent wrench) six and ten inch.
Magnetic parts tray (sticks to the lift or tool box and holds the small parts you take off)

A few additional items:
Good quality safety glasses,
Mechanic gloves
Fire extinguisher
Shop lights (adjustable stand with a couple of halogen lights is nice) 
Mechanic trouble light
Hydraulic roller stool
Rolling tool tray or stand
Drip tray to catch oil etc.
Tank and fender protective pads (or clean soft cloths)

Cordless drill
Drill bit set
Dremel tool
Hack saw and blades
Razor knife

The list can go on and on, but to do most owner repairs and maintenance you don’t need a lot.  Check your tool box you probably have most of what you need already.