The Cost of Sailing

Someone recently viewed the sailing photos on my Facebook page and said that he “didn’t have the income for that hobby.” It wasn’t the first time he made such a comment so I’ll probably never convince him that sailing doesn’t have to be expensive. Boating is as expensive as the amount of money you want to invest.

When I first realized that I had an interest in boating beyond my kayak (at that point I didn’t know whether I preferred sail or power boating) I got a ride on someone’s power boat in exchange for helping him move some stuff out of storage and onto the boat. He took me off the coast of Atlantic City, NJ and allowed me to take the helm for a bit. I took the wheel and immediately knew that I wanted to be on the water. Not just beside the water but on the water and able to travel faster than I could paddle. When we returned to the dock and he spent a good amount of time adjusting the lines to make sure the lines would properly secure the boat during both high and low tides, I knew I had the patience for boating. $0.

The next step was to take a boating safety course with the US Power and Sail Squadron. The course was somewhere around 10 weeks and covered everything from what to call the pointy end of the boat to how to plot a course on a (paper) chart. Approximately $70 at that time.

At some point in the middle of the boating course I knew I wanted to sail. There were a few instructors who sailed and they just seemed…different in some way. At the time I couldn’t put a finger on it but I sensed something about them that set them apart from the instructors who had power boats.

I searched the internet and found a sailing club. Some clubs maintain a fleet of boats that members can use once they have proven their competency. The maintenance costs of the boats and the buildings are passed on to the members so the clubs with a fleet that I looked at charged a minimum of $1500 per year dues plus whatever “initiation” fee each one charged. I wasn’t ready for that investment because I knew that it would be a year or two before I was able to operate a boat on my own. As an alternative I found a club where members sailed their own boats and welcomed as crew any member without a boat. For someone new to sailing and without a boat this serves several purposes: 1) you don’t have the expense of maintaining a boat and 2) you can crew on different types of sailboats to learn how to sail and to get a feel for what you might someday want to purchase and 3) decide whether you even want to buy a boat before making a potentially wasteful purchase. Club dues are $40 per year.

I could have stopped there and simply paid my dues each year and remained in the club crewing on other member’s boats. I would still be able to sail and it wouldn’t cost much beyond helping out with gas or food or whatever. However, I decided to take the other fork in the road and increase my investment.

I bought my own sail boat. I happened upon a used 22 foot boat that needed some work but it came with a trailer and four well-kept sails. I asked an experienced sailor I knew to look at it and tell me if it was going to float, which he did. I became a boat owner for $2300.

A boat on a trailer usually has its own storage: the trailer. There is no need for the expense of a boat slip. Simply park it in your driveway and drive it to the ramp when you want to sail. The cost of the trailer includes the registration cost (I think it was $30 for five years) and the upkeep which could be close to nothing for the first few years if the trailer is new or more if it isn’t.

Since that first boat we decided to invest in a sailing lifestyle, not just a hobby. We bought a 30 foot boat and all the expenses (and fun) that come with it. But we had the option to pay less to keep sailing than we pay for dinner for two at an inexpensive restaurant (before alcohol). There are so many ways that one can get onto a boat if that’s what one wants that cost should never be an excuse.

One Response to “The Cost of Sailing”

  1. Serbia Says:

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