Owning a boat is something many dream about, and those who live near the water have probably thought into purchasing. Unfortunately, there is a stigma when it comes to boat ownership, which makes many shy away from the idea because they do not believe they can afford these costs. However, owning a sailboat can be done on a budget with the right knowledge and a little guidance.
This leads to the question of how much does a sailboat actually cost? The true costs of sailboats will vary greatly, depending on what you need. On average, you will find sailboat costs are around:
- A brand new 26’ sailboat is around $80,000
- A used 26’ sailboat is an average of $20,000
- A new 36’ cruiser is around $150,000
- A used 36’ cruiser is about $40,000
The final price of a sailboat will vary greatly depending on the size and type of boat you choose. However, there are several reasonable boats on the market today, and buying used is a great option. To truly determine your final costs, you will want to take into consideration the costs of yearly maintenance and basic upkeep.
How Much Does It Cost to Buy an Average Sailboat?
It is a common misconception that buying and maintaining a sailboat is too expensive for the average household. While there are expenses that come with sailboats, they can be very affordable if you know the right way to purchase your new boat. If you do plan on purchasing a sailboat, you should shop around to find one that fits your needs and budget.
As mentioned, there are several things you must consider when you are purchasing your boat, but the average sailboat is around $20,000, and the new boats will typically cost around $60,000. A positive thing about this is that there are several preowned and affordable sailboats out there. You can even find beautiful used sailboats that cost $10,000 or far less with a little diligence.
What are the Pros and Cons of Purchasing a Sailboat?
Before making any big purchases, you want to consider the positives and negatives that come along with it. While you may dream of owning a boat, you never want to jump into a lifechanging purchase without putting in your due amount of research.
Pros of Purchasing a Sailboat vs. a Powerboat
- They are Environmentally Friendly – Since these boats rely primarily on wind for power, they are the most environmentally way to travel. They will feature a small motor, but this is not often used.
- Cheaper Engine – As mentioned, they only have a small engine that is far smaller than a powerboat. This is rarely used and leads to lower fuel costs and lower upkeep.
- No Limit on Travel – These boats are easy to take anywhere and need little preparation. The only real planning that comes with sailboat use is to wait for the right wind conditions.
- They are Quieter – Powerboats are far louder than sailboats, making them a great option for a leisurely cruise. They allow the captain to socialize without talking over the sounds of the boat.
- You can Go on an Adventure – There is something much more primal and adventurous when it comes to using a sailboat versus a powerboat. You need to map out the weather and tides, use stamina, and rely on the water. Powerboats are the easier, less adventurous option.
Of course, as with any big purchase, you do want to recognize the cons and put them into consideration. While sailboats are a great purchase and one, I completely stand behind, they are not the best choice for everyone.
Cons of Purchasing a Sailboat vs. a Powerboat
- They Have Less Space – On average, a sailboat has less space on and below deck because of the shape of the hull and the requirement of the masts and sails. This means to get enough space for several individuals; you must pay more for a larger boat.
- They Rely Solely on the Wind – The biggest issue with sailboats is that they rely on the wind, which means they may not work for your particular area. While this makes them more adventurous, it can make taking trips a little more challenging.
- You Need More Training – While I doubt you are reading this if you have not sailed or are not interested in learning about sailing. However, these boats require far more knowledge than basic boating does. You need a lot more training and education when it comes to sailing and planning your trip.
- Deeper Drafts – You also must account for the deeper drafts that come on a sailboat due to its hull shape. This means that they sit lower in the water and cannot go near the shallows or beaches as closely as other boats.
- More Time-Consuming – Just like the fact that you need more training, you need to take more time preparing for your trips. You have to consider the tide, wind, destination, etc. before taking your boat out. This can be far more time consuming, which you will want to keep in mind.
How to Reduce the Cost of Buying Your Sailboat
If you have weighed your pros and cons of buying a sailboat and want to take the next step, there are a couple of ways that you can reduce the costs of your sailboat. Two big ways that you can lower your overall sailboat costs are:
Buy a Quality Used Boat
This is perhaps the easiest way to save money on your sailboat because there is an abundance of used sailboat options on the market today. Buying used is an option we have already mentioned a few times; this is one of the best ways to get a sailboat that fits your budget. Most used sailboats will cost you less than $30,000 and still have a long life ahead of them.
Most avid sailors are adamant about taking care of their sailboats, which means used options are still extremely nice. Also, even older boats can have a strong following, making it easy to find replacement parts as needed. You should always do your own research and due diligence when it comes to purchasing used, but this is a top choice.
Try to Find a Partner
The next way to lower the costs of your sailboat is to partner with someone who also wants a sailboat. Partners will share the purchase costs and the upkeep costs of the boat, which means you can cut what you pay in half. However, there are some problems that can arise with this, making it critical you choose a quality partner.
If your partner does not honor their commitment, you can end up paying more than expected, or it can lead to conflict. You should try to partner with a close family member or a friend who you know will uphold their end of the deal. Having a contract in place, laying out any agreements and stipulations can also help with this.
What to Look for in Your First Sailboat
There are a few key things you want to look for when you are buying your first sailboat to ensure it fits your needs. If you have sailed in the past, you may want a more advanced boat, but a newer sailor may not want as large of a boat. Of course, starting smaller and less expensive for your first sailboat can ensure you do not pay a large amount for something you may not love in the end. Some things you may want to look for in your first sailboat are:
- A boat that is 22 to 27 feet long
- Should be between 10 and 30 years old
- Fiberglass hulls last longer and require less maintenance
- Fin or bilge keeled depending on whether you have a drying mooring or need a shallower draft
- They should have a sloop-rigged with a single foresail and a main. This is more efficient and simpler, suiting a smaller boat.
- The boat should clearly be in good condition and ready to sail
Types of Sailboats on the Market Today
You also want to learn more about the sailboat types that are available before searching for your first boat. There are a few options out there that differ slightly, and certain types may fit your needs more. The main types of sailboats you can purchase are:
- Daysailers – This is the ideal choice for simple cruising on rivers, creeks, etc. and are usually between 13 and 30 feet long. They have open cockpits and one or two sails that can be easily managed by a small crew. They do have a small engine that can be used for docking, lowered wind, or other tight entrances.
- Performance or Racers – This is more for experienced sailors as these boats are for more speed and excitement. These sailboats are made more for competition purposes and require far more physical ability.
- Cruisers – These range from small sailboats to huge, luxurious 6- footers. These are great for long haul trips and those who truly want a getaway in their sailboats. These sailboats are great for those who want to dedicate serious time and adventure to their sailing.
Buying New Versus Used Sailboats
As if we have not said it enough, buying a used sailboat is the best way to save money when it comes to buying a boat. However, you should note that buying used is not always simple, and you may need to put some serious thought into the process. There are some benefits to buying new and some benefits of buying preowned.
If your budget is not something you are super concerned about, buying new is clearly a great option.
Additional Benefits of Buying a New Sailboat
- As the first owner, you know exactly what has happened in the boat.
- The warranties are much better, compared to usually having no warranty with a preowned option.
- You will have the most up-to-date technology on the market today.
- You can pick a model with the latest designs and the newest software available.
- They will be completely ready to sail with no maintenance or remodeling needed.
- You have better chances of getting financing and insurance.
- You can trade in a previously owned model if this is not your first boat.
- Sails and sail plans will feature new designs.
If you have a stricter budget or are newer to sailing, buying preowned is a great choice. While you need to put more effort into this process to find a boat that is high quality and still has a long life ahead of it, there are great options out there.
Benefits of Buying a Pre-owned Sailboat
- They can cost substantially less, allowing you to get a bigger boat on a tighter budget.
- Though the shopping process can be lengthier, it can be much more educational and fun.
- The cost of your insurance will be less than new boats.
- You can choose from a wide variety of classic models with more classic lines.
- Many are still in great condition, yet very affordable.
Best Sailboats on the Market Today
Now that you know more about purchasing sailboats, we will discuss some of the best sailboats on the market today. These are all excellent models and those that any sailor would be proud to own. Depending on your budget, there are a variety of options at a large range of prices.
Best Preowned Sailboats
- Contessa 26 – This is a fiberglass monohulled boat that is sturdy and reliable, dating back to their creation in the 1960s. While not the most spacious on our list, there is plenty of space on this boat for a homey feel, but accessing the cabin is a bit of a challenge. However, you can find a looked-after boat like this for as low as $15,000.
- Island Packet 31 – This is a great sailboat for shallow water sailing, the hull is made of solid fiberglass and has a deck featuring end-grain balsa core. The boat is very spacious, comfortable, easy to use, and to maintain. This vintage boat can be bought anywhere between $35,000 and $50,000.
- Endeavor 37 – This boat is one of the heaviest on our list, making it slow in the upwind but offering a comfortable and smooth ride. The sailboat features exceptional craftsmanship, featuring two aft cabins with a convertible dinette forward or a single aft cabin with a V-berth forward. You can find the boat available today for around $20,000 and $50,000.
- Islander 36 – While this boat lacks in craftsmanship from its use of plywood, the boat excels in interior space. The boat has a wide beam that allows more accommodation unlike many of the others on our list. When originally built, there were over $1,000 built, and you can find them available today for $22,000 or more.
- Tayana 37 – This is one of the most popular production sailboats of all time and was designed by Robert Perry, one of the most prolific in the world today. The Tayana 37 features a sturdy fiberglass hull and a balsa-covered deck. This is one of the best cruisers ever made, and you can find them available today for around $34,000.
- Catalina 22 – This is one of the boats with the biggest ranges in prices going from $4,000 up to $15,000. The boat was first built in 1969 and continues to be a very popular choice amongst many sailors. This boat has the ability to take on rough seas and is very spacious below deck.
Best New Sailboats
- Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 319 – A great family cruiser that is well-equipped yet compact. A hallmark of the Sun Odyssey brand. Sells for around $130,000.
- Lagoon 50 – This boat features the elegance of the 50s yet features modern advancements many new sailors look for. You can choose a model featuring up to six cabins! The boat sells for around $665,000.
- F-22 Trimaran – First built in New Zealand in 2014, this is an award-winning model that many love. The sailboat comes in three options that you can choose from, depending on where you purchase from. You will find these sold for around $85,000.
- Figaro Beneteau 3 – This boat has won multiple awards as a sailboat of the year. It is the first Beneteau that was produced with a foiling one-design monohull. They are sold for around $250,000.
- Hylas 48 – This is a great choice for small crews who want to swiftly and comfortably travel the world. It is designed, built, and equipped for the long haul, making it a great choice for those who want a quality, often used boat. These come in at around $520,000, making it one of the most expensive on our list.
How Much Does It Cost to Own and Maintain a Sailboat
Now that you have a better idea of what purchasing a sailboat will cost, it is important also to remember that there are regular maintenance costs that come with your boat. The yearly costs to keep your boat afloat do add up and can make or break your ability to purchase your sailboat. The very first part of considering how much the overall costs of your sailboat will be is to take into consideration the initial costs of the boat.
If you pay for your sailboat outright, you will not have monthly bills on the boat. However, if you purchase your boat with a loan, you will need to pay back the money through monthly payments. This is something you will want to remember and add to your regular costs.
Of course, you need to consider that there are a lot of miscellaneous maintenance costs that will affect your overall costs. These will vary depending on your unique situation, but you should expect to pay for at least some maintenance fees each year.
Yearly Government Fees
- Taxes – State taxes on boats will vary from location to location. Some states do not have a boat tax at all, while others can be relatively high.
- Insurance – While a boat Insurance is not required by the majority of the states, if you want to use marinas, they generally do require some type of boat insurance. Depending on your location your boat insurance is an average of 1.5% of the boat’s insured value. Rates can be higher in some areas that are more weather incident prone.
- Registration Costs – As you would with a car, you must register your boat, and this will vary in cost by state. Some states barely charge anything for registration, but some can be close to $200 or more a year.
Hauling and Storage Fees
- Mooring – Once again, mooring costs can range from a couple of hundred dollars annually or even $1,000 a month for larger boats. You can also find boatyards where you can store your boat in between sails for a basic seasonal fee.
- A Basic Rowboat – If you get a mooring, it is important you have a rowboat, kayak, or other types of dinghy that you can use to get to your boat at its mooring. These can be around $1,000 new or $500 used, but this is a one-time cost.
- Boat Docking – This can be an even more expensive option, and these costs will usually be figured out based on the size of your sailboat. The bigger your boat is, the more you will pay for docking fees.
- Trailer Costs – During the offseason of sailing, you will need to have a trailer that can haul your boat back to wherever you store it. You can find trailers ranging in price substantially from only a few hundred dollars to thousands, but a larger boat may need a nicer trailer. If you do not use the trailer regularly, you may be able to get away with just borrowing one or renting one when needed.
- Storage in the Winter – While some who own sailboats live in areas that do not have winter months, those that do have climate changes will need winter storage options. If you plan to winterize your boat each winter, you will want to pay someone to haul the boat from the water, wrap it, and set it on blocks. These costs will range depending on where you live, but these services usually cost around $2,000.
Miscellaneous Maintenance Fees:
The annual maintenance fees for your boat will make up roughly 10% of the overall costs of the boat as a whole. As with many of our previously mentioned services, these can vary based on your needs. However, to keep your boat running smoothly, you will want to ensure you are caring for your boat as needed. If you do not handle these services yourself and hire a professional, you will pay even more for these services.
The basic maintenance services you should consider include; painting the hull every year, cleaning the deck, replacing the sails as needed, and more. This means you can expect to pay around $2,000 yearly depending on what maintenance you do. Newer boats may not need as much maintenance as used models do.
Random Other Fees:
While the final costs of your sailboat are hard to assess exactly because they are so situational, there are a few other random fees you may want to take into consideration before making any purchases. One of the biggest benefits of purchasing a sailboat over a powerboat is you will never pay for gas or fuel, as they are completely wind-powered. However, if your boat does feature a small engine, you will need to pay for oil changes or any repairs that may arise. Some other fees to keep in mind are:
- Safety Equipment – In most areas, it is against the law to be on a sailboat without proper safety equipment, which means every member of your family and crew must be wearing a life jacket. Life jackets will range in costs but are an average of $70 each for quality pieces but usually last several years. It is also recommended to have a safety kit on board that has a horn, flares, fire extinguisher, and other gear that costs around $100.
- Navigation Equipment – Many skip purchasing any GPS equipment because they only travel familiar waters. However, if you plan to venture away from your local port or even take an overnight trip, you will want to purchase some form of GPS device. These systems range from being a couple hundred dollars up to thousands, but this will depend on your traveling needs.
Final Costs of Buying a Sailboat
To say it once more, to save money on buying a sailboat, you should purchase preowned as these are always far less than the newer options. Once you have a sailboat in mind that you love, you will want to consider adding at least $6,000 to this budget for annual storage fees, government fees, and miscellaneous maintenance fees. These will range greatly based on the location where you live.
It is important that you also take into consideration the initial costs you will have in addition to the boat itself. From the very beginning, you need to have a trailer, safety gear, a smaller boat for mooring, and more.