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I consider myself middle class. That means my net household income is less than 100k for a family of 4. I feel I can afford to sail without straining my family's finances. My boat has cost me a whole bunch of labor, around $5000 cash, and somewhere in the $1600 range per year for docking and maintenance. A small price to pay for all the fun that comes with owning a sailboat yet my friends cant understand how I can afford such a hobby. The common stereotype is that people who sail are rich. If you are in the same situation as I am please feel free to share your story with me. It would be nice to have someone other than myself to compare to when explaining to my friends that they too can afford to sail if they really want to.
 

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I'm not rich either. My highest income I ever made was $153,000 a year and I'm 55 and have a 42 foot boat that's paid for. It takes a while to learn, but it's money management, not money production, that determines what you can do.

I was making $21,000 a year when I bought my first cruising capable boat, a Cape Dory 25D, in 1985 (nothing but Hobie Cats before that). I was driving a 1967 Bel Air, my grandmother gave me, while my friends, who couldn't understand how I bought that boat, were all driving brand new cars. It's priorities, too.

The only thing keeping me from taking off for a couple of years on that boat in 1988 was a wife that said "no". She was afraid it would derail both of our careers to take a sabbatical at that time. We're divorced now. :D

Read the obituaries and see how many people younger than you are in there every week. Then wonder what they thought they were going to do next year.
 

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I do not consider myself financially wealthy (by U.S. standards). I have also chosen the frugal route when it comes to financing my sailing dream. But it comes at a serious cost when it comes to PATIENCE. There are so many little projects, and I am trying to keep the maintenance costs under $200 per month. In a perfect world I could just dry dock it and start making calls to the canvas people, mechanics, etc. But it is all worth it on a nice breezy day.
 

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The common stereotype is that people who sail are rich. If you are in the same situation as I am please feel free to share your story with me. It would be nice to have someone other than myself to compare to when explaining to my friends that they too can afford to sail if they really want to.
I don't believe that a lack of money is keeping people from sailing. As you note, if you want to sail, you should be able to do it cheaply.

I started sailing in 2003 with a 1982 Catalina 22. I paid around $3000 for the boat and it was in good condition (not great, but certainly good enough for day sails). The boat was on a trailer and came with a decent outboard engine. I could not get a mooring that year so we trailer sailed the boat. I paid the town $10 for a ramp permit so I could launch the boat, park the car and trailer, etc. I would have to check my records but I think I sailed the boat 5-10 times that year (got the boat in early August).

The next year I paid $100 for a mooring permit, got a free dingy that I fixed for $50, bought a mooring for $300, and paid a company $100 to drop the mooring and $100 to pull the mooring in the fall. So my total costs for a year were under $1000. We sailed a lot that year (upgraded to a Newport 28 in July, but that's another story)

But sailing is not for everyone. It takes a serious time commitment and the right personality and I think most people are just not into it. If you have a family with kids there are so many competing activities that most people are not going to make the commitment to go sailing. Between work, kids sports, house, lawn, and vehicle maintenance, family obligations, TV/computer/video games, etc. there just isn't that much leisure time available. Then the weather and seasons come into play too. I'm in the north east, and the sailing season is really May - October. And in those months, how many free weekend days will there be when the weather cooperates? How many people are willing to learn a complicated activity with a unique language, that is sort of anachronistic (you mean we can't go directly from here to there if the wind isn't blowing right?) and perhaps dangerous?

Then, when you finally are able to get out on the water, and the weather is nice, and the wind is nice, and the boat works well, MOST people are still going to be like: "So this is it? We're on a boat and going like 5 miles and hour, and we can't get anywhere and why can't you turn the motor on so we can go faster, and like I'm hungry and why didn't you bring anything good to eat and like I'm so bored, and my iphone is like dying, and OMG this is so boring, and I have to meet my friends in 2 hours and when are we turning around and why is this taking sooo long."

Wow, writing all this down, I wonder why ANYONE with a young family sails. I guess that's why so few do!

Personally, I LOVE sailing and I AM a little crazy, so it works for me. But certainly not for everyone.

PS: For SOME people (those who GET it) when you finally are able to get out on the water, and the weather is nice, and the wind is nice, and the boat works well, it will be like "This is amazing! It's so peaceful and quiet, and the boat moves through the water so nicely, and this is all free? And we can go anywhere we want and food on the water tastes so much better and the sun feels good on my skin and we can stay out here as long as we like and how does the boat move so well when I can barely feel the wind and the water is warm and THIS IS JUST GREAT!"

Barry
 

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cruising all I can
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under sail aboard a 32' CC is still an incredible sensation. knowing every thing you require to live is aboard is empowering and exhilarating. then the knowledge that you can command it to anywhere in the world.
better than flying, driving, cycling or anything else, at least to me it is. hope to be able sail the rest of my life.
 

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Daniel - Norsea 27
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I work in the military so I'm definitely not wealthy but I am smart with my finances. I have a house that's near the base, I have a car that's paid for, a truck I bought a couple years ago so I could tow my boat that I also got shortly after the truck. I wanted to get a boat, paid for, and be able to do what I can with it when I can. Deployments have slowed down and work related trips have too. The first 15 months of having my boat, it was on its trailer in a storage lot while I put some work into it. Got it into the water this past Jun/Jul and been doing some other projects along the way. I sailed it once so far and had a wonderful time. I thought of starting off with a smaller boat since I am still relatively new to sailing but at the same time, I'm very happy with the boat I did get because it could be the only boat I ever have. There's other military people in my neighborhood that have fishing boats or pontoon boats sitting in their drive way.

You don't need a fancy or expensive boat, just something that gets you out on the water and enjoy your time to kick back and relax from the work week and all is good.
 

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I would say that people who say stuff like, you must be rich to have a boat . Those people are not boat people, but even worse they are jealous . Some yrs. ago I bought a Porsche, it was a older 911 Targa . It was restored and looked nice but still I only paid 10k for it . You should of heard the howls from people . They went like, what are you trying to prove with a car like that! And oh you must be rich , and my favorite, are you having a mid life crisis ?! I know that was a car story but thanks for letting me rant about that . On the boating side I still get pretty much the same thoughtless comments . And lastly I would not try to convince or explain to people that they could afford a boat, I mean just the ones that make rude comments like you must be rich . On the other side of the coin , does anyone get this one ? You are cheap because you own a sail boat and air is free .
 

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I've been fortunate to have sailed pretty steadily without owning a boat in the last few decades, ever since moving south from New England, where I did own one-designs, delivered some boats, and raced in college.

As a member of the "OPBC" since then I've been able to borrow boats once or twice from a friendly owner I'd crewed for, to take a local family cruise when my kid was younger. And done an occasional delivery with a neighbor or friend who'd bought a new boat. Raced some. Been a Race Committee volunteer some. Paid someone's slip rent for a couple of years and got to sail that Ranger 32 (which they didn't sail, so I did) until they sold it. And for the past 14 years or so, have been teaching sailing as a part-time gig at a couple of local facilities here, occasional half-day charter captain. And they've been gracious enough to let me borrow one of the teaching boats on occasion.

So life is good. It has helped to have had a small-tonnage Captain's license. But mostly it's just be dependable and enjoy teaching new (or not so new) sailors, which I do enjoy.

I lack the autonomy and ability to fit out a boat and go wherever whenever, which you who own those great boats have, my hat's off to you for making it work. But this has worked for me so far, and I guess I could always charter a boat somewhere, some day.

Or buy one?? Never say never.... ;-)
 

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islander bahama 24
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Yep the comments all can be summed up thus a family on a power boat is going somewhere special a sailing family is already there and its not money that gives you that
 

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69' Coronado 25
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I live in So Cal where just about everything costs a brick of gold and average income is half a brick of silver but people make it. The marina I am in I believe to be the least expensive in my area (no moorings) at $225.00 for a 25 ft. boat (year round) isn't bad for the amount of enjoyment you can have, we have several islands to sail to that are a full days sail and many harbors that are also a days sail away. I like to say that we have a chance to get out of town for the cost of food and fuel (boat and cooking) that's a few dollars for the weekend unless you want a slip or mooring, that's a few more dollars. I have friends that "get out of town" and spend several hundred dollars for a weekend and then thats it for a month or two. Some think I have money to throw away on a boat (I don't) I am frugal with what I spend on it for maintenance and I do all the work myself (except sails and rigging). My point is I have the ability to go out every weekend or just out for a day with little cost 225/8=28.125 that's slip rent divided by 8 weekend days a month, even if we only stay at the marina we are still "out of town".
 

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We have been a two income couple now down to just my income... At about 75k a year to be honest we are finding it difficult to afford some aspects of the cost of sailing. The major cost challenge as we see it after year one though is not the boat. The boat and even most fixes are quite manageable as I can do most work myself. The major expense that makes the lifestyle difficult is marina experience. Even now I am trying to figure out how to reduce or remove that $2800/Y from the picture. Can't trailer something almost 30'. At our income level slips fees or $150/m would be much ore realistic than the 275/m we are paying now... Plus $45/m for trailer storage. So while I agree that many more could have a Sailboat, marina fees are the single most limiting factor...
 
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(I was just reading my stuff and it sounds like I'm ripped. I'm not at all, just voicing my perception on the subject so if I offend, go easy on me)

Where I stand, if you're approaching $100k or passed it, you are into wealthy, not so you have diamonds dripping, but so you can afford half a mortgage (for an average family) per month for recreation. I'm estimating all told, $700 per month in insurance, mooring/slip fees, maintenance, diesel, supplies and sailing expenses (rented moorings, food). As a trailer sailor, my expenses are way down. $400/year insurance, another $300 in gas. Hauling is done every weekend. Maintenance is done by me in the driveway (much to the chagrin of neighbors). For most people, sailing (cruising) is still an elitist past time with lots of money required. And those who can't afford a blue water capable boat are looked down upon as less than sailors. I have found a particular bias against people who a) aren't willing to drop "just $700" for right chartplotter b) can't afford to take ASA101, ASA103, ASA105, ASA106 et al. c) didn't crew for three years on TransPac training ships d) Trailer their boats. It is still a money thing. But who loves sailing more, the guy with a fully stocked galley complete with fridge and gimballed oven or the guy that has to spend an hour of hard work just to float, then sit in the weather at all times and eat cold food or use a camp stove? In my eyes, the person who must endure the most inconvenience but still endeavors to sail wins every time.

Now, many folks reading do not feel this way about trailer sailors. Thanks for being that way. But others plainly do. If you do, check your income and boat size.

My wife and I sail the coast of Maine, about 1000 nm per year. Most trips are overnights, many are multiple days and hundreds of miles, dodging rocks and ledges, lobster buoys, ferries, and . . . larger sailboats who are the give-way vessels but either don't know the rules or . . . look down on smaller boats. I'd bet I can count into the teens on that one.
 

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Money means something, making a good living means having the ability to do what maybe others can't do or can't afford to do... but it comes at a price for some...

I own my own engineering company (3 man business) and with it comes monetary rewards and I make a better living than most even some doctors/lawyers... but it comes with a negative price of having to travel away from home for extended periods of time... 9 months in China, 9 months in Seattle, so far 6 months here in Montreal and no end in sight... this comes at a price of being away from my family (I do get to see them regularly for a week or two), home, garden, cars (collector cars), sailboat, etc... the only points worth this style of work is the fact I am saving a ton of money for the eventual sail-off with my wife... my wife is a special education teacher and has 13 more years to full retirement, I have less than 8 years more to go... we are mostly debt free and only business taxes to contend with... I want a larger sailboat when it's time to go and probably will purchase a 5 year old or less sailboat (or yacht :D) and outfit it for our extended cruising but it will not be over 35 feet, this to keep costs down... we figure an average of $1500-2500 a month just cruising expenses alone (no medical or major boat expenditures).

I miss being on the sailboat I have now and have someone watching and caring for it while I'm gone and wish I could sail away now but reality is it's better to make the money now and have the funds to support the sailing than waiting and never being able to sail where we want as long as our health holds out. 8 years is not long but anything can happen in life... no sure bets. ;)
 

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everyone with a boat is rich, just because you know people with more money doesn't really change it
 

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Read the obituaries and see how many people younger than you are in there every week. Then wonder what they thought they were going to do next year.
I've seen many a better man than me wither to nothing in months.
living in a small town makes it most evident.

I'm pretty close to the poverty level for this area.. lil under 30k a year take home.
i can keep up with the jone's if i have to. i can file bankruptsy too lol...
i manage to have everything my friends have. without the anguish.
it may not be as new or cool. as long as i keep my bad habits in check
i can afford to get what i need. i have to plan for it... i dont have the instant
gratification of deep pockets.

i only pay 220 a month for slip and liveaboard fees and about 200 for utilities
' electric phone/internet and some diesel'.
I think i could slop dishes for a living part time and make way....
it would be a good thing for me.. that way i could not afford these $10 packs of smokes...
 

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I'm just a day-sailor, and a trailer-sailor at that. But I have run the numbers (because I have dreams). For the middle-class American, having a sailboat and even cruising it - coastal anyway - is really just a matter of having no consumer debt. What others put out just in car payments can cover mooring fees. Buy an economical used vehicle rather than new, and you save the price of a good old coastal cruiser. Forget golf, trips to Vegas, and sports bars, and maintenance costs are affordable. By world standards, that may still be "wealthy" - but in the context of modern America, it is rather unremarkable. Unless you consider it remarkable that someone would choose to live within their means, so as not to waste money enriching money lenders.

Someday, when my time is my own....

In the meantime - a good old 20' pocket cruiser trailer sailor costs less to acquire and maintain than one new ATV or Snowmobile. This is a CHEAP hobby - but yes, we are "rich".
 

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I'm surprised I haven't seen a response yet like this, so I'll have a go.

You don't have to be rich to sail.

You do have to be rich to sail...(choose any of the following)
  1. fast
  2. comfortably in any weather
  3. if you need to stay in marinas while cruising
  4. across borders
  5. a big boat
    1. with kids

Our first boat was a Tanzer 22, purchased in the water, in a slip, full of fuel, with a bunch of sails. Paid about $4000, and that was thru a broker. Not knowing any better, we had a great time with that boat. Felt it was a pretty cheap hobby.
We decided we needed more room, for the kids.
bought a bigger boat for $8000. Had to use a bigger slip. Wanted to go faster. Bought better sails. Wanted to be comfortable. Updated the cushions, installed roller furling, electronics, and ran rigging to the cockpit.

We decided we wanted to race more competitively.. (go faster) Bought a bigger boat for more than double the 2nd boat. sails don't perform well, so need to buy new ones. One sail is worth more than the price of the entire first boat. Need to rent the second-largest slip size in the marina. It is no longer a cheap hobby, but it means enough to us that we make the sacrifices we need to to continue doing it - as hard-core as we can afford.

I'm not rich, but we live comfortably. I'm not comfortable telling anyone but other sailors much about the cost of our boat, because of the 'you must be rich' stigma.

You don't have to be rich to sail, but the folks that are out there, sailing around in 22-footers, aren't what the general populus thinks about when they think 'yachtsmen', either....it's all a matter of perspective.
 

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"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone."

"My greatest skill has been to want but little."

--- Henry David Thoreau

Sensible Cruising: The Thoreau Approach
 
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