How To Buy A Cheap Sailboat

How To Buy A Cheap Sailboat | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

August 23, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Buying a sailboat cheap can happen under the right circumstances
  • Many boats are considered cheap depending on your budget and if in a buyer’s market
  • If you can fix things efficiently, then buying a fixer-upper boat can be a cheap way to sail
  • A low offer in cash for someone selling their boat could lead to a cheaper deal
  • The cost of sailboats may vary on the brand and model, as well as the condition

Many boat owners often wonder how to buy a sailboat cheap. So what are some ways that you can find a cheap boat or one for a good price?

Buying a smaller boat can make a difference in the price, but the brand and condition also affect how cheap a boat can be. Location also plays a role, as well as supply and demand for boats. A cheap sailboat can also be found in salvage yards if you know how to work on them.

In my experience, people sell boats for many reasons that will affect the asking price. Your sailing goals will also influence the type of boat you will need and the potential price range of your budget.


Table of contents

Ways to Find a Cheap Sailboat

Various opportunities may come up when trying to find cheap sailboats. Keep in mind that this likely means it is a used boat and it will affect the maintenance costs. Below are ways that you can find a cheap sailboat.

Location of the Boat

For most sailors, they will likely need to live near a body of water. This is where you should try to look for boats, especially for a place like the state of Florida that has the most registered boat owners in the United States.

You will likely need to be willing to travel to find the cheapest boat in mind for your budget. Boats in Florida will have different price ranges than in California or in Maine. It is important to consider traveling costs to these places and figure out how much it will cost to ship the boat back to your home or marina.

Sailing Clubs

Sailing clubs are an ideal group of people that have a similar boat as you or have the same interests when it comes to sailing. If you are thinking about buying a cheap boat that is similar to the ones used in a particular club, try asking someone in that club where the best deals for cheap boats are.

Odds are, someone else was able to find cheap cruising boats or a well-taken care of a used sailboat that can accommodate your sailing skills. Being pointed in the right direction can save you time and money.

Comparing a Boat Online

There are a lot of online dealers that can help find the cheapest sailboat for you to save money. If there is a particular model you are after, this can greatly narrow down your search without having to randomly show up in places. for example is one of many popular websites for the online marketplace to find good deals for you. Searching online will help you find the cheapest boats on the West Coast and East Coast so you do not waste time trying to travel.

Buying Local

Depending on where you live, it might be in your best interest to search for cheap boats locally. You might even get lucky and see the boat of your dreams in a local newspaper or similar method of advertising.

This also means looking into a marina or boatyard that works on boats. Oftentimes, there is someone willing to part ways with their boat for a good price.

Preparing to Buy a Cheap Boat

Proper research is paramount when trying to find your first sailboat or a boat that is ideal for your sailing goals. Sailing forums are a great resource too for specific boats that you have in mind.

Preparing to purchase a cheap boat means you need all the information at hand to make the best decision. It is important that you do not rush into any decision, especially if the seller is telling you that it is a once in a lifetime deal or that there are other people interested.

Determining Your Budget

Your budget is the most important factor when determining how much you can afford and what you define as “cheap”. Your first boat, or one that is on your mind if you have had others, needs to be budgeted by what you have in your bank account and how you can afford payments.

This is crucial for your financial health so that you do not overspend. If you are financing your boat, this could be as much as car payment or more depending on how much the boat costs. Remember, you do not want to spend more money than you cannot afford to lose.

Trading Your Current Boat

Trade boats are ones that have been exchanged for another during a transaction, just like you would when you trade in a car at a dealership. Trading in your old boat could save a thousand dollars or more depending on the model and year of the boat.

You want to make sure you are getting the best deal on your trade and that you are also getting the best price on the boat you are purchasing. This will require you to do proper research on both ends of the buying and selling process.

Fixing Up an Old One

If you are good with your hands and happen to have a lot of materials or tools at home, then buying a boat that needs some work done on it will likely be your best bet for getting a cheap boat. Finding a boat in someone's yard or boatyard might be the cheapest place, but you may even find one next to nothing at these locations depending on how much work needs to be done on them.

Common boats will also be easier to find parts for unlike other boats that did not earn a large following or total sales. If the boat appears to have too much work needed to operate, it might be best to avoid the boat altogether.

Payment Methods

Depending on where you are purchasing your boat, you may have an opportunity to drive down the price when paying for your boat. Paying cash is usually a good method of payment but financing a boat at a dealer may offer you some bonuses that will make a difference in the price.

Private sellers are likely more interested in cash and it is more powerful offering someone slightly less in cash compared to their asking price. This could also work with a dealer depending on what other trades or incentives are occuring.

Type of Boat

What boat do you have in mind for your sailing goals? Are you wanting to sail offshore or go cruising? This will make a big impact on what you are trying to achieve on the water.

Smaller boats will obviously cost less than a large boat, but you need to make sure a smaller one fits your sailing goals. It can also make a difference if you are planning to have more people on board or if you are sailing by yourself.

Do Not Chase Your Dream Boat

Searching for the right boat at a good price is difficult enough depending on your sailing goals. However, you should not stress out over the process because your dream boat might not work in your favor for a variety of reasons. The budget is most likely the cause, as people typically want everything in good working order and with no flaws.

Instead, you should consider having a few different options or even a top five of the best boats for you. This will help you navigate through many options and you are more likely to find a boat for cheap.

How To Buy A Cheap 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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