Boating is an adventurous, yet expensive hobby in South Africa. It is a well-known fact, and that’s why the majority of South Africans give up on their dream of boating. And we are talking strictly about leisure boating here. If you are an average citizen, you may not be able to fully afford boating without poking multiple holes in your wallet and savings. Well, what are the cost factors of boating in South Africa, anyway? Let’s find out.

SAMSA Skipper’s License – Essential Cost Factor of Boating in South Africa

You will require a SAMSA Skipper’s license in South Africa if you are to drive a boat in South Africa for any purpose. Yes, we have covered SAMSA Skipper in numerous articles, we know!

But in this article, we are talking about this as a cost factor in your overall boating experience. According to this article, you are easily looking at a minimum of R2500 added to the cost (including the SRC radio course, which is essential). Remember, the courses are optional and you do not necessarily have to take them to take the exam and obtain the license. Certainly, a minimum of R2500 for the license, plus additional course costs if you decide to take one.

The Boat – Should I own it or rent it?

This is entirely an economical choice but it is important to note that be it renting or be it own, it does not necessarily make the experience superior to the other. The most important part is planning and your skills. Our general rule of thumb is that, if you are a frequent boater who boats almost daily, then you might want to consider owning a boat. If you are an occasional boater, renting a boat might be a better idea.

How can I rent a boat?

You can rent a boat in South Africa, depending on the boat type and the company you are renting the boat from. For example, Coastal Boat Rentals at Knysna offers their smallest 15hp engine powerboat called Heart Craft 410 at R750 rent for a day. The good thing about rentals is that you do not have to worry too much about the ‘prepping’ part of your journey. The boat providers, usually boating clubs or rental companies, will provide you with all the necessary safety gear.

Now, the downside is, you have to be extremely cautious while handling the rental and its equipment. Since you do not own the boat, you may have to pay extra costs for any loss or damage that occurs under your care. Anyway, we are perhaps telling you to be way too cautious while boating in a rental, but frankly, just make sure to follow the basic safety tips and you should be fine.

How can I buy a boat?

Getting a private boat is no small investment. When you buy a boat in South Africa, you will have to keep in mind the following cost factors.

  • The actual boat cost depends on whether you are buying a brand-new, or used boat. Also depends on the boat type.
  • Getting a motor only applies when you are buying a boat with an outboard engine. This may also be new or second-hand.
  • A trailer purchase is necessary, even if you have a marina. You can use the trailer for boat maintenance.
  • Maintenance of your boat is important, and it will cost you extra.
  • Running costs as boats do require fuel and oil to function well.
  • Fees for annual Certificate of Fitness (COF), unless your boat has an engine of less than 15hp, or less than 9m in length (sailing boat), or solely runs on manpower. More information here: Survey Information and Checklists by SAMSA.
  • Boat safety equipment, as each boat must have life jackets, flares, and fire extinguishers on board.
  • Boat storage, either at a marine or in dry storage. Technically, dry storage is a better option to protect your boat and extend its lifespan. PierShare has a great article about it.

So, where can you buy a boat? South Africa is famous for boating activities, which means there’s a market for trading new and used boats. You can find individuals selling their small personal watercraft or boating companies selling their prestigious yachts. The choices are endless.

So, if you are looking forward to buying a boat, you may start with the Auto Trader website for references. Also, did you know that you can actually get a loan just for buying a boat in South Africa? To get an idea about the loans, we highly recommend visiting the CompareLoans website for options and more information.


While renting a boat significantly reduces the cost of boating, owning your own boat has its thrill and freedom. Remember, the cost factor completely depends on the type of boat and the length and purpose of your trip. It is important to remember that these costs vary greatly, and hence, it is important to do your research before you do so.

The purpose of this article is to list down all the cost factors that you need to consider before boating in South Africa. We hope that this answers your questions.

If you are looking for a Skipper’s License or RYA courses in South Africa, feel free to connect with Sail and Power SA in Cape Town and we will be glad to help you out!