Club members pool ideas for beating the credit crunch

There are no magic solutions for the challenges facing motor boat owners today. High fuel prices, rising marina and servicing charges and, particularly for some of the older generation, falling incomes as a result of interest rates at an all time low. Nobody wants to give up boating and we’re all looking for ways of reducing our costs. Members of the Broom Owners Club took the opportunity at the London Boat Show to talk to other owners and share their ideas.

Here are some of their top tips for staying afloat through the financial crisis.

If you do your own servicing, you will save labour costs but are still likely to be shaken by the price charged for manufacturer branded consumables, things like filters, drive belts and impellers. Some generic replacements, oil filters for example, are easy to find at places like motor factors. Others may seem engine specific with no alternative to sourcing direct from main distributors. However the reality is that people like Volvo and Perkins “buy in” the majority of their components and if you look closely at the part you are replacing there will usually be enough clues to find the source supplier through the internet. You may have to buy in bulk but if you have two engines and replace annually, you will soon see a saving. And of course, through the club you may find someone else who has the same engines, to share with.

Many, perhaps most owners will not feel like taking on their own maintenance and in truth the more recent boats are as complex and computer controlled as modern cars, requiring specialist knowledge and equipment. And this raises important questions about the competence of the engineer at your home marina to undertake specialist work. One owner has a novel solution. He takes his boat to Brooms at Brundall making the annual service part of his summer cruise. Although, he is based as far away as the Medway, he takes the boat to them a week before the holiday starts, giving them sufficient time to carry out the necessary work and have it in top condition for the cruise. Although it may seem quite a distance the cost of diesel is more than offset by lower costs at the Brundall yard, compared to the more expensive South Coast or Thames region.

As an added bonus Broom tell us that work pre-booked for the summer months when their workshops are normally quieter – most people want to be using their boats – can often be offered at a discount on even their normal rates.

Fuel costs have become a huge concern for all of us. Last year’s spiralling oil price brought forward the pain we were so unhappily anticipating with the loss of the red diesel derogation. Many are responding by planning to use their boats less, a somewhat self defeating strategy. Others favour planning journeys more carefully, going slowly and taking advantage of the tides which can add as much as 5 knots to speed over the ground with an equivalent saving in fuel.

But another interesting suggestion came up at the show – remove the rope cutters. We know they disturb the flow round the propellers, reducing efficiency but by how much? It depends on the type of rope cutter of course but it could be as much as four knots at maximum speed. Even if it is only 10%, a more generally accepted figure, that is the sort of fuel saving which might tempt you to risk the odd dip in the water to clear a prop.

Finally, look for the best insurance deal – costs can vary hugely. The Broom Owners Club has a deal with Navigators and General of 10% discount for members although other firms were undercutting current quotes. The advice is, before you accept your renewal talk to your insurer, and if it is Nav and Gen, remind them of the discount after you have their best quote!

For more information on the BOC visit