Getting Started With Sailing: Potential Costs

getting-started-with-sailing-potential-costs

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

February 19, 2020

Sailing
Financial
Beginners

Owning a boat may seem out of reach on the surface if you are on a budget. However, if you are genuinely interested in taking up sailing then a bit of research is in order. Getting started in sailing is not the cheapest hobby, but you can, in fact, sail on a budget. We have put together a brief guide to help you recognize what to expect and the cost involved with sailing.

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Sailboat Prices

For those just getting into sailing, you are likely not looking to purchase a Beneteau Oceanis. Many types of sailboats on the market can appeal to beginners and new boat owners alike. For new sailor boat owners, a more modest model such as a Laser Bahia, a Sabot, or Laser 2000 might be more up your alley.

Regardless of the specific type of boat you choose, an affordable 25’ sailboat can be purchased for as low as $3,000 used or $30,000 brand new. The final price of a sailboat is determined by three chief factors; size, brand, and style. Aside from the actual cost of the boat, there is maintenance cost to consider.

One time cost when you first purchase your boat and start sailing are:

  • Boat registration - $10-$15 per square foot
  • Sailing Club registration fees — $1,000 — $2,000
  • Boat Trailer — $1,000 — $1,500

Sail Boat Cost Examples

Lower Range

A lower-range 22’ sailboat like a Catalina is perfect for those who want to start sailing but don’t want to commit to a large budget. This is a viable option if you are on a shoestring budget and are learning to sail as a casual hobby more than a significant interest. You can purchase a brand-new 22” Catalina or similar boat for around $18,000 brand new or $4,000 pre-owned. This is a lower end model of a sailboat but if you want to get the most for your money you still need a good care package. You will need to set aside money for extra sails, motors and other parts to have on hand for repairs. Recurring cost for maintenance and sailing clubs fees will average around $2,000 annually.


One time cost when you first purchase your boat and start sailing are:

  • Boat registration - $4-$7 per square foot\Taxes – 3% - 5% of purchase price
  • Taxes – 3% - 5% of purchase price
  • Boat Trailer - $400 - $600


Recurring cost of sailing are:

  • Insurance - $95 - $150 (annually)
  • Mooring - $12 - $18 per foot
  • Winterisation $400 – $900 (annually)
  • Sail Club fees - $450 - $750 (annually)
  • Fuel – May vary according to usage.
  • Maintenance — $500 — $1,000 (annually)

Middle Range

A mid-range 26’ sailboat such as an island packet is perfect for those who want to start sailing with little to no hassle. This is a great option for weekend sailors who plan to dry dock when their boat isn’t in use. You can purchase a brand-new Island Packet or similar boat for around $25,000 brand new or $8,000 pre-owned. With a model like this, you will want to invest in a good maintenance plan that will help you prevent costly repairs. Recurring cost for maintenance and sailing clubs fees will average around $6,000 annually.


One time cost when you first purchase your boat and start sailing are:

  • Boat registration - $10-$15 per square foot
  • Taxes – 5% - 10% of purchase price
  • Boat Trailer - $1,000 - $1,500


Recurring cost of sailing are:

  • Insurance - $275 - $350 (annually)
  • Mooring - $12 - $18 per foot
  • Winterization- $1,500 – $2,000 (annually)
  • Sail Club fees- $650 - $1,000 (annually)
  • Fuel – Varies according to usage
  • Maintenance - $1,700 - $2,500 (annually)


Needless to say, there are high-end boats and they have their own range of cost. Most people who are only just getting into sailing most likely won’t buy an expensive sailboat.

Additional Cost of Sailing

Now that we have gone over the hard numbers of purchasing a boat and setting up the basic annual services, it’s time to look more into the cost. There is really no clear cut answer for how much sailing will cost since everyone’s needs are different. So many factors come into play such as;

  • Boat size
  • Frequency of sailing
  • Boat type
  • The condition of your boat
  • Your location
  • How fast you learn


There is also some ancillary cost involved once you have purchased and fitted your sailboat.

#1 – Maintenance

Though we mentioned maintenance in the first section, it’s important to break that down a little further. Every time you take your boat out on the water; you will need to wash it down prior to storing it. Sails also need to be replaced at least every three years depending on wear and tear. None of this runs cheaply and the cost of fabric treatment, wax, soaps, and replacement sails can run about $400 annually for a small boat. The larger the boat, the more you can expect to pay.

#2 – Safety Equipment

Anytime you hit the water you should always have your safety gear. This is true for beginners and expert sailors. Safety equipment isn’t cheap, but in general, it’s a onetime cost that can save a life. Certified life jackets range from $70 -$100 each and you should have enough on board for at least 2 - 3 people depending on the size of your boat. Your sailboat should also contain a kit for emergencies. You can purchase a pre-packed kit from any marina shop or order a Coast Guard Safety Package. This is a standard boaters kit that has a fire extinguisher, distress signal kit, dock lines, and a Freon horn. This kit cost between $180-$220 and is a must-have for every boat. If you have a larger boat, you may want to purchase a radio or GPS system as well as flares and whistles.

#3 - Sailing Lessons

Before you hit the waves on your own, you will need to learn the proper way to sail safely. There is a range, of course, available that will help you get the experience you need. Basic courses usually last for three hours and can cost $150-$200. Keelboat sailing classes offer a mix of classroom lessons followed by hands-on time in the water with an instructor. This type of class covers various federal requirements, safety tips, and other rules. With certification, this will run between $400-$500. Basic coastal cruising lessons offer a more in-depth course on sailing. The instructor will cover the trip planning, docking, anchoring, and more. These classes can cost between $700 and $1,000. There are many other classes available depending on your knowledge level and sailing needs.

The Bottom Line

Several variables can affect the cost of getting into sailing. Joining a sailing club is a great way to learn how to sail without paying hefty fees for lessons. On the other hand, lessons allow you to become certified in your state. Owning a boat and leasing one also affects how much you will pay to start sailing. If you are not sure how much time you can dedicate to sailing, hiring a boat is a good option. For those who want to take a more serious interest in sailing, ownership is the best course.


There is so much more that comes with hitting the water than just purchasing a sailboat and setting sail. Learning the proper way to navigate, read charts and stay safe is just the beginning. All things considered, you can expect to pay $10,000 on the low end to get started to around $35,000 on the higher end. If you are dedicated to embarking on an aquatic journey, then setting a budget for your hobby and raising your sails is easy. No matter what you choose, we hope to see you out there and wish you smooth sailing ahead.

Getting Started With Sailing: Potential Costs

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