The costs and benefits of keeping a boat in France

Do I hear you yawn? If you don’t have a boat, don’t intend to get one and aren’t interested in the cost analysis of UK vs France then skip this part. But not all of it.

You might want to check out the post I made last year when contemplating leaving Filibuster in foreign climes. It’s here, under Relief at Last.

Arzal vs UK

To summarize, last year we found ourselves too far South, in the warm pleasant envroins around St Martin / La Rochelle. Getting Filibuster back to Wales would have been a  2 week slog with the dreadful Bristol Channel at the end.

We found a place at Arzal and I reckoned it would not only extend our holiday in the warm pleasant environs but might also save a few squids as well – in fact estimated at around one thousand squids.

Did it work out?

Well actually, yes, quite a big YES in Fact.

My estimate for a repeat of the 2013 season but taking the boat back to the UK came to just under £4,600. This includes annual mooring & storage cost, delivery trip to and for France and associated travel costs, cost of berths during the holiday and diesel to get the boat around when it couldn’t be sailed.

Our actual costs for 2014 look like coming in at a tad under £3,300. This figure includes the same items as UK and also costs of ferries to and fro.

And in this year, we spent all of our nights cruising in France (a total of 7 weeks), whereas the UK version has 2 weeks of delivery nights (which can be fun as well)

So, plus ou moins, we saved £1300 on the year. Certainly worth doing.


Other benefits

  • Kitting out and prepping the boat in April and May were a delight – warm weather.
  • No dead flies in the hood
  • Boat was dry as a bone – no condensation inside at all
  • Marina berth compared to swinging mooring at Lawrenny
  • Lots of professional services (sail making, life raft service that seem to be less expensive than the UK)
  • Free holidays in France
  • Lots of French wine at much lower prices than UK/ And Malt Whisky at 50% of UK prices


Not interested in owning your own boat?

Well I admit it, you’ve got to be a bit loopy to campaign a 40ft sailing boat. To  the reduced costs at Arzal you need to add insurance (£500), annual repairs and maintenance (£500-£1000) and the lost opportunity cost of the money sunk into the boat itself (….let’s not even think about that…).


For the less loopy there are other ways to get your sailing fix. We came across one towards the end of our stay in France:

Tops’l Sailing Club 

In Piriac sur Mer and again at La Roche Bernard we came across a British boat (Dufour 385) owned by the Tops’l Sailing Club. Notionally based near Portsmouth.

The club is a really interesting proposition: they own 3 boats: Dufour 385, Southerly 110 and a Halberg Rassey 36.

Members are shareholders and shares entitle you to money off their already very reasonable “charter” rates. Interestingly the value of shares can actually increase and they are redeemable.


Worked Example for a shareholding of £10,000

You can check out the details on the costs page of the Tops’l web site

Let’s assume you have £10,000 to invest and as a couple you want to sail for 4 weeks in a year.

Number of shares = £10,000/£2.58 = 3,876

Cost Per person per day = £49 x 2 =£98 x 28 days= £2,744

Less discount at £13 per 100 shares owned: = 38 * £13 = £494 (equates to a 5% yield)

Gives a total cost of £2744 – £494 = £2,250 for 28 days on board. Incroyable.

Plus your share of engine hours/berthing. Min 3 persons abord.

I have left this post open in case any of the folk from Tops’l wish to add a comment.


(And by way of comparison, a 7 night Sunsail Med charter in mid 2015 costs around £2,800 plus options for just 7 nights!)


Heck, what’s not to like about such a proposition. We spent quite a bit of time and a couple of dinners with the folk aboard the club’s Dufour 38 and can only heartily recommend what we discovered.


We’re still loopy enough to want to continue campaigning Filubuster on our own, but one day we might not be so and Tops’l is certainly something we would look at.





Join an exclusive mooring sharing club – FREE!

Whichever way you look at it, sailing can be a pricey business.


The kind folk at Arzal have come up with a clever solution that’s absolutely free! Let’s call it the Eco-Skint contract.

The key features of Eco-Skint are:

  • You simply park your boat at their place
  • Don’t pay them any money

– and in return get an exclusive pontoon berth alongside other like minded boats.


What could be better?


Arzal 015

Arzal’s exclusive Eco-Skint pontoon


….And that folks, really is the last word for the season.. See you next year.