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Señor Member
1,457 Posts

Hate to break it to you, but there are waaay to many variables involved in your question that prevent getting a useful answer.

Think of it this way -- how would you answer the same question if it substituted "car" for "sailboat" ? Hope you can see that the possible answers are varied. A 1969 VW Fastback is going to cost a lot less than a 2004 Vette. Same thing goes for boats, bigger is usually more expensive, and older is usually less expensive.

As a general rule, you can buy a used sailboat for less than the seller's list price. How much less depends on what condition the boat is in, and how motivated the seller is to move on with their life.

Another good general rule it to set aside an immediate repair/replace/upgrade fund beyond what you pay for the boat so you can begin to get things back into A-1 order. Chances are, the boat is going to need new bits and pieces in order operate it safely and comfortably. Most advise to make this fund equal to 30% of the purchase price of the boat. Depending on the initial price of the boat, and its overall condition, this 30% may be more or less than you will actually need to spend.

Another general rule is to plan on spending 10% of the purchase price each year for maintenance. This will be greatly influenced in practice by what kind of sailing you intend to do, and what kind of an owner you will be. Only you can answer that one. If you trailer the boat to water, it's going to cost less than if it's tied up in a marina. If you intend to sail her a couple of days a month, then your maintenance costs will likely be less than those who are fulltime live-aboard cruisers. If you are a stickler for making sure that everything is in perfect condition, you will wind up spending far more money (and time) than folks who don't let peeling varnish or paint bother them. If you do the work yourself, it's (usually) far less expensive than hiring a boatyard or contractor to do it for you.

Give this some thought, and try to narrow your question down a bit. If you can, ask about specific boats (e.g., a mid-70's vintage Catalina 27 or a 2005 Tartan 4400), and what your intended use will be. I'm sure you'll get much better answers from a bunch of really helpful and experienced folks.


19 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Cost of Ownership Spreadsheet


Thanks for your reply. I was actually looking for a spreadsheet, not exact costs.

Somewhere in my travels through sailnet I have seen a spreadsheet that categorized all the types of costs typically involved in owning a boat, such as loan, payment, insurance, maintenance, dockage, etc. You then plug in the dollar amounts according to your own situation, boat, etc.

If anyone remembers such a spreadsheet, let me know where I might find it, thanks.


1,172 Posts
I recall seeing something similar. The bottom line, regardless of what you plug in for variables is essentially meaningless. The real cost always comes out more than you calculated. The input variables are too hypothetical, the assumptions too vague and the answer is irrelevant. It costs what it costs.

980 Posts
Not sure if this will help but...

Docking (slip/mooring/club fees and initiation fees/marina fees/trailer or cradle storage/electrical and water hookup/pumpouts)

Launch/haulout (crane or travelift/mast stepping and unstepping/bottom paint/wax or polish/buffers and pads)

Off-season storage (cover/frame/shrinkwrap ??)


Upkeep (replacing worn lines/clevis pins/turnbuckles/fenders/anchor rodes/ etc.)

Maintenance (oil changes/winterising engine/fuel, oil, Racor filters/impellers/head rebuilds)

Refit (new sails/masts/booms/furlers/tracks/blocks/clutches/engines/decks/water heaters/refrigerators/cradles or trailers/standing rigging/stoves/stereos/instruments/house batteries/storage batteries/wiring/dodgers/biminis/cushions/upholstery/whatever...)

Personally, I budget a minimum of $7,500.00/year for a 30 foot boat. I frequently hear others say that they get by on far less, but I am not sure how it can be done if you want to maintain a boat in good condition.

Good Luck :)

3,853 Posts
Really rough guide

My 1973 Catalina 22.

Purchase price: About $3250
Had lots of upgrades: New-ish sails, outboard, various equipment etc.

Yearly maintenance/projects:
-Bucket of bottom paint (lasts 2 years) $100
-Topside paint and supplies $300
-Deck paint and supplies $400
-Build wooden dinghy $500
-Trailer tires/wheels $250
-Various other equipment (a few lifejackets, GPS, Charts...) $300/year
-probably about $500/year of stuff I forgot about!

Insurance (liability-only for a boat this cheap): $100/year

Mooring: $850/year

I consider this running a boat on-the-cheap.

Remember: Boat cost = (boat length)E3

13,641 Posts
A spreadsheet would have to start out being size-specific to the boat and type (monohull, multihull) as well as the location and how the boat was used, i.e. one weekend a month versus theee evenings and every weekend.

I'd say you would be better off with one of the many lists of "stuff that costs" and then doing the homework to find out the specifics for what those costs will be for the kind of boat, sailing, and area that interest you.

Two basic sails for a 38' boat? Could be $6000 (basic) or $10,000 (higher end but not highest). A "complete" set of sails? Welll...does that mean ten for racing or just those first two?<G> And do you need them "now" or in six months or in the middle of high season? And so on.

295 Posts
Beth Leonard has written extensively on this subject. I don't know specific issues, but I think she has at least one article in 'Good Old Boat' in the last year and probably other articles in the other magazines. Lin and Larry Pardey discuss the same topic in their book, 'The Cost Conscious Cruiser.' These might give you some ballpark numbers if not a true spreadsheet.

Sorry I can't be more specific. There are so many variables; not only the size of the boat but the age, the location, the pedigree, the past use of the boat, etc.

Cal 9.2 SilverSwan
302 Posts
Just for consideration for buying a 28 to 32 ft boat:
Marine Survey, $400
Travel expence for sea trial, $???
Down payment at time of offer, $???
Financing charges, loan fees, $???
Coast guard Regristration, $100?
Land transportation,Chicago to East Tn, $2500
Preping boat for land transportation / winterization, $400
Tn state use tax, $1800
( crane not required to launch boat)
Monthly boat payments, $200
Slip fees monthly, $100
Boat Insurance yr ( 2 boats), $365
Fuel yr, $38
Bottom job /3 yrs or diver fees, $300-900
New sails, $??? used sails possible
Instrument upgrade and auto pilot, $1600
New AGM batteries /6yrs, $450
Maintenance, buff wax, scrub etc... $???
Engine maintenance /yr $100 impeller, filters oil and fuel, oil change, zincs
Replace dock lines, rigging standing, running $???
Ice, beer $???
What did I miss??

13,641 Posts
One opinion on used sails for newbies: Don't.

Unless you really know sails, and your boat is from such a popular class that there are lots of used sails out there just for it, you can probably get low-end new sails for not a whole lot more (especially if you have to return a couple of sets of sails that didn't work out) and they'll fit and work better, for longer.

Usually a used sail is available because someone thought it was blown out, or badly shaped, or plain old used up. Maybe it has some life left in it, if you plan to use it just once in a while. But overall...Unless you have great luck with used cars, casinos, and poker, pass on the used sails unless you know what you are looking at/for, and you can drive down to eyeball them before you start paying shipping bills.

Skimp on something else, the sails ARE the performance engine at the heart of any sailboat. Until you've sailed the same boat with old sails and then replaced them with new ones--you can't imagine how big a difference they make.
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