So, you want to own a sailboat? We can’t blame you. It’s one of the most rewarding investments anyone can make. It comes with a massive sense of freedom, and that’s worth more than any price.
That’s what we would like to say, but you have to be realistic if you plan on investing in a sailboat. You can’t just buy one on impulse. At least most of you can’t.
There are a lot of different costs associated with both buying and maintaining a sailboat that you need to plan for before you buy it. You also have to consider the cost of extras, like a trailer or slip rental.
Otherwise, you might end up with a boat that you either can’t keep in good condition or one that has nowhere to be stored.
So, how much is the cost of a sailboat? There’s no single total cost figure for owning a boat. The cost of buying, maintenance cost, how much you pay for insurance, how much you pay for fuel, how much you pay for mooring at a marina, the trailer you tow it on, and more are all fees that are variable but factor into how much money it ultimately costs you.
The fact that there are so many different fees to consider means that owning a sailboat isn’t cheap. However, it also means that you have a lot of flexibility in the price of your budget. You can try and cut back how much money you spend in various categories to decrease the average amount of money you spend per month on your boat’s maintenance.
That’s not to say that your sailboat is going to be cheap or affordable. Boat owners of all stripes know that isn’t the case.
However, ownership doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might initially think it is.
We’re going to go over a few of the different fees and budget categories that you need to consider before you buy your own boat, and take a look at the price for the type of boat itself, as well as things like engine and fuel consumption, maintenance, accessories like a trailer, and more.
If you’re serious about owning a sailboat, make sure this isn’t the only piece of information you read on the cost. Do some extensive research on boats, and shop around different sites online before you end up buying a new boat.
Table of Contents
Things to Consider Before Owning a Sailboat
Before owning a sailboat, there are a few things you need to consider.
First and foremost, make sure you actually have somewhere that you can both go sailing and store the boat.
Ideally, you want to anchor your boat in a marina, but that comes with additional expenses.
If you’re not up for paying additional prices for marina registration, security, and storage, you can try and store it on your own property, but be aware that you have to both facilitate that and find a way to get your boat out to sea.
Average Cost of Buying a Boat
The average cost of purchase you can expect when going to buy your boat depends on which type you want to get.
While we’re going to be focusing on sailboats for the majority of this article, we do want to highlight a few other boat types that you have the option of purchasing, just in case you haven’t set your heart on a traditional sailboat yet.
Pontoon boats rely on floats to remain buoyant. The buoyancy of this boat type is so effective that it allows owners to create deck plans for the boat itself, typically consisting of things like sun pads, lounge areas, and even minibars.
The cost of an average 22-foot pontoon is $35,000. That being said, the purchase of this boat is extremely scalable. While the average price is that 35k figure, you can find smaller pontoon boats that are going to cost you less than $20,000. However, it’s easy to find a large-foot example model that is going to cost you more than $50,000.
As well as pontoon boats, an alternative to a traditional sailboat is a motorboat. There are two different types of motorboats: a cruiser and a speedboat.
A cruiser motorboat contains cabins and outboard motors. These are great family boats that come with a lot of internal space.
In fact, some people even choose to live on cruisers, trading in life on land for a life on the sea.
Due to how comprehensive and large these boats are, you can expect to purchase a new one for over six digits. The top of the range models can even go for millions, so they are an expensive piece of hardware.
You can, of course, get cruise boats that cost less than that, but you’re going to be looking at older engine models and second-hand boats.
Speedboats, on the other hand, can go from anywhere between $20,000 up to that same six-digit figure.
These boats have outboard motors and no cabin, making them less for cruising and more for something like fishing.
At last, we get to sailboats.
This kind of boat is a little more dramatic in price, as you probably know if you’ve been looking into buying one.
The amount of money that a sailboat cost varies far more wildly than the price of other boat types. You could spend $2,500 to purchase one, or you could end up having spent $166,000.
Needless to say, if you spent that six-digit price, you’re getting a yacht that is, more or less, going to sail for life. Whereas, if you’re only spending a few thousand dollars, you’re going to get a boat that regularly needs new sails, maintenance and is likely second hand already with some hull or engine damage.
That being said, if you buy second-hand and do the maintenance by hand yourself, you can save a lot of cash for other areas of your ownership budget.
The best part about sailboats compared to other boat types is the fact that there is a boat for every budget. Whether you want one with a strong engine and motor, or you want to rely on your own sailing ability for cruising, there’s going to be a boat that’s in your price range.
How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Sailboat?
As all boat owners know, owning a sailboat is far more expensive than buying one. It’s not like a car where all you have to pay are taxes and insurance.
With sailboats, you have taxes and insurance, sure, but you also have mooring and marina costs, maintenance fees, sailing club fees, the price of buying new sails, and more.
Those few example expenses can end up costing you more than you spend on the boat in the boat in the first place, and that’s only the start of it. If you’re using a sailing boat that relies on a motor, you have to cash out for gas.
If you have a long-foot model, you have to pay higher prices for paint and storage.
There are also certain safety regulations that need to be followed, meaning you might end up spending even more making sure your model can reach those regulations.
Don’t let this intimidate you and turn you off owning a boat, though. While your maintenance costs can end up being more than the value of the boat, that’s over the course of several years of boat ownership.
The costs per year aren’t going to be that high, and there are methods to save money the longer you have your boat and the more familiar you become with it.
On average, the total cost per year of sailboat boat ownership is between $2,000 and $7,000.
This covers everything from the cost of sailing club costs per month to insurance and mooring costs.
Needless to say, how much ownership of your both costs you ultimately depends on where in the world you are. Mooring is not as affordable in certain areas of the world as it is in others, so you could end up spending much more or less owning your boat.
Why Do Sailboats Cost so Much?
Sailboats can be affordable, sure, but that’s for a boat that is over a year old and likely needs some work.
For a new boat that’s just after going through registration, you might be shocked at the cost, so let’s talk about a few reasons why these boats are actually so expensive.
Second Hand or Brand New?
One of the most obvious, and arguably the most cost-impacting, part of purchasing a boat is whether you want to get one that’s brand new or second-hand.
A second-hand boat might need new sails, new paint, or even a bit of deck or safety work, but you can typically save thousands in value by doing this rather than buying one that’s already fully done up.
While new sailboats cost far more than used ones, you can still end up paying $30,000 for a second-hand model if it has been well maintained.
However, there is another benefit to buying used aside from the price.
Sailors and boat owners typically customize their boats. Owning a boat is a project for many people rather than just a way to sail. This means that buying a second-hand model can come with a host of free value in the form of extensions like sail bags and sun shields.
The material that your sailboat is made out of is going to have a massive impact on how much it ultimately ends up costing you. Not only is this going to impact how intense your winter storage needs to be, but it can impact how well your boat holds up in the ocean or whether it’s even ocean-ready at all.
Most sailboat models are made from fiberglass. This material manages to be both light and strong while also being incredibly expensive compared to other types.
That being said, sailboat models used to be made from wood. While this is typical of older sailboats, there are new models still being made using traditional woodworking techniques today.
A wooden sailboat is going to cost you far more than a fiberglass one. The materials are more expensive to buy, and it takes a lot more effort to build.
Obviously, the bigger the sailboat, the more it’s going to cost.
The size of your boat has a surprisingly large influence on the cost. It can affect the safety of your deck, the storage, the price of gas per month, taxes, and more. It directly affects how much equipment you can take aboard, too, so you need to buy one that’s big enough to suit your needs.
Larger sailboat models are more capable of sailing on deeper oceanic waters. These boats also hold more cargo and can accommodate a larger family.
As well as that, the larger the boat, the fewer parts can be made on an assembly line. This means that there are more hands involved in a longer construction process, resulting in a higher cost for you.
The Number of Hulls
Typically, there are between one and three hulls on your boat. A monohull boat is a traditional sailboat that only has one hull. A monohull sailboat costs less than a sailboat with multiple hulls.
If a boat has two hull installations or three hull installations, it’s going to cost more because there are more materials used in the construction of the hull, as well as more room on-board for family living space.
Technology has revamped everything these last few years, sailing included. There are types of toggle navigation technology that are going to cost us a significant amount of cash to get installed.
Getting a sailboat that has already been equipped with this kind of tech might cost you more, but it can actually save you time and money in the long run compared to installation toggle navigation sailing technology yourself.
Cost of a Sailboat
|Total Over 5 Years
|Initial Purchase Price (30-35ft used sailboat)
|Maintenance & Repairs (Routine)
|Major Maintenance (Engine, Rigging, etc.)
Here are some explanations for each cost:
- Initial Purchase Price: The cost for a used 30-35ft sailboat is typically between $50,000 – $100,000. I’ve taken an average cost here. This will also include the cost of a boat survey that is typically done prior to purchase.
- Documentation/Registration: Registration costs can vary depending on the country and the size of the boat.
- Insurance: This is typically around 1.5 – 2% of the boat’s value per year. This may increase if the boat is older, has been involved in accidents, or is used for racing.
- Docking/Mooring Fees: This cost can vary depending on location, amenities, and demand. Marina fees are typically charged per foot of boat length and can range from $10 – $30 per foot per month.
- Maintenance & Repairs: This includes regular maintenance such as cleaning, antifouling paint, minor repairs, and servicing of equipment.
- Fuel: The cost will depend on usage. This is an estimate for occasional use.
- Winter Storage: If you live in a place with harsh winters, it is common to store the boat in a dry dock to prevent damage.
- Sail Replacement: Sails don’t last forever and will need to be replaced about every 5 years, depending on usage and care.
- Major Maintenance: Every 5 years or so, there are likely to be major maintenance tasks, such as engine overhaul or rigging replacement.
- Equipment Upgrades: You might want to upgrade or add equipment like navigation systems, radios, safety gear, etc. over time.
That covers the majority of information we have on how much it’s going to cost you to get your boat up and running. You can spend between $2,500 to $150,000 on a sailboat with an annual maintenance figure of between $2,000 and $7,000.
Having said all of that, there are still plenty of sailing questions that you might have. I’m going to try and answer a few of these now.
Is Boat Ownership a Good Investment?
That depends on you. As an investment in economic terms, then there are other ways to store your cash for future growth. You’re not going to be buying a sailboat for registration with the expectation of turning it for a profit in a few years.
However, if you enjoy sailing, then it is, of course, a great investment. Sailing isn’t so much an investment as it is a hobby. If you enjoy it, let yourself buy a decent boat.
How Much Does Mooring Cost?
Nothing is free in life, and that applies to your boat, too. As well as having to purchase sails and gas, you’re going to have to subscribe to your marina.
Per year, this is going to cost you around $3000. Of course, that number changes per year dramatically depending on where you are and the size of your boat. If there’s one thing you get from this article, let it be that nothing is set in stone price-wise with your boat.
That being said, sailors get a number of advantages for using a marina, including winter protection, security, and more.
Do Boats Get Damaged in Winter?
Yes. If you leave your boat free and exposed to the elements in cold weather, you can expect it to take on some serious damage.
It’s easy to protect your boat, though, regardless of whether you’re using a trailer at home or keeping it in a marina.
With a little bit of time investment, you can save yourself from spending a significant amount of cash in spring to repair the damage that your boat took over the winter.
Hopefully, I’ve managed to answer any questions you might have about owning a sailboat.
Sailing is a massively rewarding hobby and something that I recommend everyone tries once. Even if you don’t want to buy your own boat for personal use, it’s an experience that you should have at least once.
If you have some buddies that are in the same boat as you, you can pitch in together and get a sailboat between you.
It’s important that you remember that a sailboat isn’t an investment so much a purchase. You shouldn’t be buying a boat to earn cash or anything along those lines.
If you buy a boat, it should be because you enjoy sailing. It’s a purchase for you to enjoy, not to profit from.
For a lot of people, that can be difficult considering how expensive a boat is. However, try to keep in mind that it is, more or less, a one-time purchase. If you enjoy sailing and do it for 20 years, that initial price of your boat, all of a sudden, doesn’t look too bad.