Both of my boats had titles and were free! Well, free is a misleading term... I didn't have to pay to buy them, but I've spent some money fixing them! My first is a 1980 Compac 16, that I rescued from under a tree for the previous 10 years, I took this:
And after 3 months of sweat equity, and about $550, I had gotten it to this point:
I still need to some minor gel coat repairs, paint the topsides and bottom, as well as buff the hull out. However, everything left is cosmetic, the rigging was all replaced by the previous owner and it had two sets of sails, one set had only been used for one season.
Free boat #2, a 1983 Starwind 22(same basic design as the Chrysler 22):
I've spent just under $500 so far on this one, and I figure I'll have another $1000 to $1500 into it before I'm done. Thankfully it also came with multiple sets of sails(some new).
I keep costs low by doing almost all repairs myself, but I am fortunate to have all the necessary tools and equipment, as well as enough hands on experience to perform the repairs by myself. I have a lot of hours invested in fixing up my boats, but it is also a hobby that I enjoy, so it doesn't seem like work to me. The challenge is fun.
As you can see, I need a tow vehicle, it costs me about $560/month to cover payment, insurance, registration, gas, and maintenance for my truck. However, I have 3 kids, and my truck is our second family vehicle, so I don't consider it a boat expense in my case.
My requirements when looking at derelict sailboats:
1. They must have a transferable title!!!
2. They must be complete( no missing mast, sails, rudder, etc.)
3. Hull and deck must be in good shape.
I am also able to store both my boats for free because they are on trailers, so I don't rack up storage fees. Do you like working on things? If not, owning a boat may not be for you. I picked up both of my boats from previous owners who paid a lot of money for them used, but they didn't like to work on things. Boats require constant maintenance, even on a trailer.
I have at times packed lunch, quit buying my morning cup of coffee on my way to work, etc. to pay for parts/materials for my boats. You'd be amazed how much money it adds up to a month!