What's a Bottom Job COST Anyway?

I detailed our last bottom job, and a few people asked the ever-popular "What does it cost" question. So here goes.

Let’s start with what it costs to NOT do a bottom job. This is, after all, a choice. We’re boaters, environmentally conscious beings who care deeply about the waters we sail on. Why would we spend immense amounts of money putting deeply toxic chemicals that are formulated specifically to cause harm to marine life on our beloved boats? 

Here’s the thing, though. Barnacles and algae grow at a rate that’s alarming. They adore solid objects they can adhere to – and boats provide an irresistible target. So if you choose not to bottom paint the boat? You’ll be sporting growth, and FAST.

lovely, no?

lovely, no?

Who cares? I’m not a racer.

Your boat will move more slowly through the water if you’re laden with excess underwater decoration. Some experts calculate it can cost you 50% of your hull-through-the-water efficiency, and I don't know about you but when I want to get into port for sundowners, I don't want it to take me 50% longer. It will cost more in diesel fuel to push you at a slower pace. Your engine will labor if the prop is crusted. Neighbors will wonder if you care.

Fine. I’ll just scrape the bottom every week or so.

This may well be your choice. Certainly racers hire divers to come give the boat a scrub on a regular basis throughout the season – those guys are in and out in an hour, it seems. How hard could it be to scrub the boat regularly? Or maybe I can just hire them to do it for me!

If you don’t have a scuba tank or a Hookah system* (which costs money to fill, or costs money for the gas for the generator to run the compressor to fill) you’re coming up for air every few scrubs or scrapes. It’ll take a good afternoon to scrub the bottom of a 30 foot boat underwater, and that’s if the barnacles are being kind and lethargic and letting go easily. 

For these reasons and others, most cruisers opt for the paint. So how much does THAT cost?

There are 2 options. Hire someone else to do it, or do it yourself. Note: there are places in the world where the DIY option is not an option. Check around to see what the regulations are in your yard, or area, or country. You may have environmental factors to consider which could add additional costs to the job. Do your research for your particular area!

(All costs are from the yard and local hardware store in the town where we most recently hauled, in the middle part of the Chesapeake Bay.)

Option 1: Hire someone (pay the yard, generally, at least in the US.)

Screen shot of rate sheet at the yard where we haul.

Screen shot of rate sheet at the yard where we haul.

Cost is by the foot, and may or may not include prepping the bottom (here, it does not). In this case, the cost is for ONE coat of paint, not 2. Cost: $18/foot for our size boat, which they tell is is by the LOA. I’m posting the numbers for our LOA, though we’d fight that one – our LOA is 37; LOD, which is the hull size, is 28. Still.)  $18/foot @ 37 feet: $666. 

Yard rates apply for the prep (which took the 2 of us about 2 hours, both working hard the whole time. Yard rates are $60/hour, so add $240 to the cost. That's probably being optimistic.

Additional coat of paint: $12.50/foot PLUS MATERIALS. $462.50 plus that $150. An additional $612.50 for the second coat.

Running total so far: $1518.50. Not including tax on parts and supplies (5.4%), or the environmental fee (3% of the invoice). 

Must haul/block/launch the boat for the yard work: $7.50/foot. $277.50, plus $25 a day for work days (although I think if they’re doing the work, they don’t charge for that. Not sure.) Call it 4 days of time, so $377.50 for that.

Haul rates for the yard.

Haul rates for the yard.

Oh wait. There’s not the cost of the metal prep and painting in this. Sheesh. I’ll just ignore it for now.

BOTTOM JOB IF WE HAD HIRED THE YARD TO DO IT: $1796, not including taxes and fees.




Option 2: DIY

Cost-conscious cruisers tend to do a lot themselves. We are no exception.

Our costs for this year’s bottom job.

  • Haul, block, launch: $277.50
  • Storage fee for a month: $125 
  • Paint: 2@ $89.99
  • Metal zinc spray: $7.09
  • Brushes/rollers/paint trays: $22.92
  • Tyvek suits (that can be reused): 2@ $6.99 
  • Blue tape: 2@ $4.29
  • MEK for cleanup: $7.59
Thread lock is for the prop - not included in my accounting below.

Thread lock is for the prop - not included in my accounting below.

TOTAL MATERIALS: $661.27 (this includes the haul/block/launch, which we'd have spent anyway as we hauled for the winter). Tax is extra.

1 full day of work (8 hours), when you add it all in, for 2 people, for a total of 16 person-hours. This was spread out over 2 weekends, with time for other projects sprinkled in the mix. It's times like this, at haulout time when the bottom job is on the list, that having a small boat is a serious blessing. 

However you slice it, a bottom job is not a cheap undertaking. 

There are costs to cruising. It's all worth it.

See you out there.

Sailing on a clean bottom, off the coast of Long Island in the Bahamas.

Sailing on a clean bottom, off the coast of Long Island in the Bahamas.

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