Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: London, UK
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On the "cost issue," I think that slip costs, boat yards, waterfront property and other associated expenses are higher. At the same time, I also think the cost issue is irrelevant because disposable income for many middle class families is higher. My father, for example, built his boats because he had the skills and it was less expensive than buying a boat in those days. He had less disposable income than all of his now-grown children, and we have more options than he did for lower-cost luxuries like used sailboats.
The Goodlander article also pointed to this. His father's first sailboat cost $5 and he fixed it up. Their 36 foot schooner later on cost $100, and then they repaired it. Goodlander goes out of his way to note that his father worked his way up on OPBs and work, despite the lack of funds. Today, I think there are even more low cost entry points (read: inexpensive fiberglass sailboats) than my or Goodlander's father had.
I think Sailaway was perfectly on-target by simply saying "Options." It's not the cost of sailing that holds people back, but the wide range of other options they might pursue and invest in for recreation. Sailing is less comfortable and "seemingly" less safe than a lot of other options, such as riding motorcycles, camping, cruise boats, diving, yoga, running, kayaking and other "gear" sports.
In the end, it's not that these other sports cost more or less than sailing, but that they all take time. I also see couples with very young kids going out on sailboats, but sometimes it seems like they are pretty stressed out trying to "fit it in" with all the other things they need to do on the weekends. They like sailing and know its rewarding, but it can become "too selfish" to invest time in.
Anyway, my vote is that the hardest part of being a sailing family today is really committing the time to it (not the money). It means committing a day or several evenings or more almost every week in sailing season, and perhaps several weeks a year to cruise or take classes to improve your skills. It' also means that you don't have time for things like computer games, racketball, a lazy week at a beach house and other things that can also be relaxing. It also means your kids may not be able to have a massive Soccer schedule, etc.
Who knows-- maybe the real value of what we choose is increased by what we give up to focus on it. Sailing as a family, for good or bad, brings everyone together, but the time we have with the kids is so short a time anyway we might as well leave some sort of strong impression. I think sailing does this.
As for kids, they're sponges. On one day sail, my seven year-old daughter checked out the other sailboats and said, "That one is really heeling. Must not have much of a keel."