For the avid sailor, owning his or her own sailboat is the ultimate achievement. However, it’s not a cheap endeavor, so it’s important to do your research before you sign a contract. If you plan to purchase a new, previously unowned boat, you’ll have the benefit of full warranties from the manufacturer or dealer without inheriting the previous owner’s problems, etc. That, of course, comes with what is possibly a hefty price.
There are plenty of previously owned sailboats on the market, so the chances are good that you’ll find the sailboat of your dreams. It still doesn’t hurt to do your due diligence and know specifically what you do or don’t want in a sailboat. Going in with a game plan will make the process go smoother and keep the experience positive.
What Kind of Boat Do You Want?
Knowing you want a sailboat still leaves a lot of real estate to cover. What kind of sailboat you choose depends on the type of sailor you plan to be (more about that in a moment).
If you want a boat for cruising around bays and larger lakes, then a cruiser would be ideal.
If you want to raise the sail and see how fast you can get there or race other sailboats, then a racer is more your style. Of course, your choice may fall somewhere in the middle.
However, if you have no desire to race – and cruising sounds like the most boring thing you could do in a boat, rule those out and focus on what you actually want. In addition, are you planning to sail relatively close to land, or are you planning a dream cruise through the Caribbean? You’ll be glad you narrowed your choice when it comes time to start looking for a sailboat.
What Type of Sailor Are You?
The time you plan to spend on your sailboat, along with who will accompany you, are important considerations. If the plan is to take the boat out on weekends and holidays with a group of friends, your needs are different from planning to take the boat out by yourself for an extended period. Handling a boat by yourself is much different than with a crew, so make sure you choose a type of sailboat that you can handle.
Fix Her Up or Ready to Sail?
For some, purchasing a boat that needs repairs, upgrading or tweaking before she is seaworthy is part of the fun. Fixer uppers cost less to buy. Cosmetic issues or blemishes that can be repaired easily and without much experience are worthy of consideration, but if you aren’t handy or mechanical, it’s best to stick with a sailboat that’s ready for the water when you buy it. For those of you who have the knowledge and desire to buy a boat and fix it up, enjoy the savings on the initial purchase and enjoy the experience of making her seaworthy again.
How Much Money Can You Part With?
Owning a sailboat is not an investment. Most boats lose value before they ever see water. If you plan to buy a boat, keep it for a few years and then sell it, research the depreciation values on older models of that to get an ideal of how much you might get when you sell it. With few exceptions, newer boats generally have a greater value than older boats, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when deciding between old versus new.
Start Your Search
A quick Google search for “sailboats for sale” returned almost two million results, so it’s safe to bet your dream sailboat is out there – you just have to find it. A good way to find a reputable boat dealer is through word of mouth. Ask your fellow sailors where they purchased their boats. Go to boat shows and collect brochures and business cards. Search for the exact sailboat you want and visit the dealers who come up in the results. Also, be prepared to do some traveling to find your dream sailboat. A boat is a major commitment, both financially and in responsibility. Getting exactly what you want is important – and that might mean you have to drive four hours up or down the coast to find her.
Having your own sailboat, whether you just want a small one to have fun with close to shore or a larger boat you can do some serious sailing and entertaining on, is a great experience. Take your time researching boats and don’t let slick dealerships rush you into a hasty decision. Don’t plunk down any cash until you’re sure that the maintenance is manageable or your beautiful boat can quickly turn into a floating money pit. Likewise, always have a used sailboat thoroughly inspected – no matter what condition it appears to be in. Knowing you’re getting what you’re paying for will make this experience far less stressful.