Where Is The Cheapest Place To Buy a Sailboat?

Where Is The Cheapest Place To Buy a Sailboat? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

August 30, 2022

Buying a sailboat can be a life-changing event that requires some thought. You might be wondering, where is the cheapest place to buy a sailboat?

There are plenty of options to consider when searching for your dream sailboat, or at least one to get you on the water. How can you be sure that you will find one at a great price?

It all depends on the location and what your needs are. You can mostly find them in:

  • Boatyards
  • Marinas and Boating Clubs
  • Online Opportunities
  • Used Boat Auctions
  • Boat Shows

Buying locally might save you the most time and money, but a specific sailboat in mind might be sold elsewhere. While there is no perfect place to buy a sailboat, doing your research will help you narrow down the best opportunity for you.

According to state records for the number of boating vessels in the US, Florida has the most recreational boating registrations. This is a great place to begin your search in an area that has plenty of sailboats to choose from, which could help drive down the ticket price.


Table of contents

Best Places to Find Cheaper Sailboats

When looking for the cheapest sailboat, you have to consider what your goals are when sailing. Do you want something small like a dinghy, a boat for just the weekend, or one that you will travel year-round in bluewater?

You might be looking at a few thousand dollars for something like a dinghy. If you want something that is capable of living on, this can quickly go up in price depending on taste.

Narrowing down your ideal sailing experience and realizing how much you are willing to spend will help you come up with the cheapest option. If you have an idea in mind, but want to get the best deal out of it, there are options to consider.


There are two main locations in the US that will have plenty of boats to look at. This will be the north and south, primarily the Great Lakes around Michigan, states surrounding Maine, or Florida.

You can generally find sailboats just about anywhere on the east coast since you have the Atlantic Ocean. These are great places to begin your search, but you could also look into locations along the west coast such as California. However, the east coast will generally have cheaper prices, especially since Florida has the largest registrations for boats.

Places up north might have better quality boats for their age, which is nothing against the south or the people that own them. But, places like Maine or Michigan only use their boats for a few months out of the year and then store them for winter. As for warmer climates all year-round, Florida residents typically keep their boats in the water, which could age the boats faster.

The point is, you will likely need to travel if you want to find the cheapest boat. Different locations will have prices to match the market.


In addition to the location you are searching, you might be able to find a boatyard. These are great opportunities to find boats that need repairs or the owners have given up on the boat.

If you feel up for the job, you can partially restore a sailboat or give it what it needs much cheaper than buying a new one outright. In some cases, you might even find boats abandoned in storage facilities through these yards.

Marinas and Boating Clubs

Visiting a marina or boat club is an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge about sailboats. Talking with owners and the harbor master might be a rewarding opportunity if they can point you in the right direction.

Simply asking if they have boats for sale can lead you in the right direction of someone willing to let go of one for cheap. In addition, you can likely take a ride on the sailboat and test it out that day depending on the owner.

Online Opportunities

Finding the cheapest sailboat online is arguably one of the easier methods to choose from. Getting on a mobile device and typing in certain characteristics for your search can narrow down quite a bit of options.

You can start out by looking at popular websites like YachtWorld or even a quality yacht broker to help find a boat for you. If you find a boat you are interested in, it will list contact information to speak with someone about it.

Craigslist or other similar online marketplaces will open the door to some boating options. This one might be harder to navigate through, but people do attempt to sell boats this way.

Local Ads and Newspapers

If you happen to live near the coast, you might find that someone is selling their boat with an advertisement in a newspaper. Even if your local newspaper does not have one listed, you could look online to see if they have ads posted on their website.

Method of Payment Could Reduce Cost

If you have found the boat you are looking for and want to get the best deal, you will need to consider your options when it comes to paying for it. There are obviously a few methods you could try to keep costs down.


Handing over cash is often the best method of buying something quickly. If you approach someone at a marina that has a boat for sale for $15,000 and you offer them $12,000 in cash, they could likely take that deal despite being a few thousand short of their asking price.

Paying a deal in cash is a quick way for the seller to realize they no longer have to worry about trying to sell their boat. In addition, it also saves time and additional costs of selling the boat online.

Finance Through Dealer

If you are short on cash or need just a little more to cover your purchase, then you will need a loan. The good thing is, you can likely negotiate a deal with a broker or dealer and get the purchase finalized for some good terms.

Getting a loan through your trusted bank is a great idea too, however, dealers will likely give you an incentive to finance with them. In addition, you could also negotiate the asking price to fit within your budget.

Trade in Value

Just like buying and selling a car, you might get some great value for trading in your old sailboat. There are two ways to go about this transaction, depending on the situation and what is available.

If you find someone through a marina or broker website that simply wants to trade boats, you are in luck. This could be one of the easiest transactions because one person might simply want to downsize while the other wants an upgrade.

When trading your boat in for a different one at a broker or dealer, this could add tons of money on the spot. However, it is crucial to get the best deal for your trade, so make sure you know the value of your beloved boat and what you are willing to take for it.

Be Willing to Get Your Hands Dirty

One of the best ways to save money on anything is being able to fix things yourself. While this might turn a handful of people away, you could still come out ahead if you know some information on how to fix issues with electrical wiring, engine maintenance, and even propellers.

In this scenario, you could find the boat of your dreams that needs a little love and attention. Some sellers might price their boats a little high to make up for the costs, but if you can spot issues with the boat and how much it costs to repair them, it might save you thousands in negotiations.

Where Is The Cheapest Place To Buy a Sailboat?
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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