Mass boating registration, taxes, and other fees

I have a tendency to forget what bills are due when. But those jamokes in the government never do. So for my own reference I put together this check list of all the annual government fees related to my boating. I included my Seatow membership dues in the list as it’s another fee I might forget otherwise.


Fee Due Description 2012 Cost
Boat registration August 9 of every even numbered year In Massachusetts boat registration is good for two years from date of issue. The state is supposed to send a reminder one month before the registration expires. Can be renewed online. $60 (for 2 years)
Boat excise tax By August 1 (according to the assessors web site) In Massachusetts, excise tax on boats is paid to your town of residence or where the boat is principally situated. The tax applies to boat 16 feet and up. The current rate is $10 per $1000 of assessed value.  $10
Trailer registration Before you hit the road In Massachusetts your trailer must be registered annually. The registration is good for the calendar year. Can be renewed online. $40
Trailer excise tax In my town, Feb-Mar (according to the assessors web site) In Massachusetts your town of residence is responsible for charging and collecting excise tax on trailers. The current rate is $25 per $1000 of assessed value.  $15
SeaTow membership September 28 Good for one year (365 days). $169
Freshwater fishing license Whenever Good for calendar year. Can be purchased online. $27.50
Saltwater fishing license Whenever Good for calendar year. Can be purchased online. $10


Paperwork Storage:

As proof the afore-mentioned levies have been paid, I keep the following documents in these locations (with copies of each at home):

  • Boat Registration: On boat. (Required by law.)
  • Trailer Registration: In towing vehicle. (Required by law.)
  • SeaTow Card: In wallet. Also keep copy on boat.
  • Freshwater Fishing License: In wallet
  • Saltwater Fishing License: In wallet. Also keep copy on boat.


A new year…

The whole month of December without a single post! After a busy boating season I needed a little down time. But it’s time to get busy again. Been working on some bugs/enhancements to the gallery/upload pages and got most of it figured out yesterday while watching the NFL divisional round games (the Giants look like they’re peaking at just the right time…they’re going to be very tough).

Finally (finally!) in the first week of January got the boat tarp/cover fixed on in such a way that it won’t blow off in a high wind or cave in and pull loose  after a heavy rain/snowfall. Up to this point I had the tarp tied with sash cord. But a good rain would load the top of the cover with water causing it to belly down into to boat. This in turn would stretch and loosen the sash cord, and then the next really wind day would just lift the whole thing off. I solved the bellying issue by cutting a bunch of wooden slats to the width of the boat and then laying them atop the gunnels (plywood would have worked too but I figured that’d be heavier and more awkward to put on and off). I solved the loosening problem by doing what you’re supposed to do…affixing the cover with heavy duty bungee cords.

The battery is still in the boat, instead of down in the basement on a trickle charger like it should be. I wanted the option of still being able to raise and lower the motor. But now that we’re into the truly frigid months here in Massachusetts it’s time to put it where it belongs.

Tasks for the month:

  • Get that battery stored.
  • Gearcase Screw: When I went to change the gearcase lube last fall, I couldn’t get the top screw for the gearcase loose. It was frozen and the screwdrivers I had were in danger of stripping it. Just bought a larger screwdriver at Home Depot (the bigges they had…I’ve seen swords smaller than this thing) and will take one more crack at it. Maybe the cold will have caaused the metal to contract enough that it’ll loosen more easily. If it still won’t budge it’ll have to wait until spring.
  • Boat and Trailer Paperwork: I am habitually late when it comes to certain forms of paperwork…most especially registrations, inspections, excise taxes, and things of that ilk. Between the trailer and the boat, I still don’t have a clear list of what needs to get filed/paid for every year. AND in the off-season I picked up a second, smaller boat that needs to be dealt with as well. And then there are fishing licenses, Seatow membership fees…creating a list of this stuff seems like a good way to get organized.
  • Safe Boating Course: I took one of these when I was a kid, sponsored by the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Time for another one, especially as the waters of Boston Harbor are much, much more dangerous than the Pennsylvania Lakes and upper reaches of Chesapeake Bay I knew growing up.

Shopping lists for boat/trailer parts and fishing equipment will have to wait until February.