Is Sailing An Expensive Hobby?

Is Sailing An Expensive Hobby? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Whether you want to explore places you wouldn't otherwise see, you want to race or just want to have fun out on the water, sailing is an affordable way to experience freedom and tranquility on the water.

For many sailors, sailing is in the blood. In addition to being a sociable and fun way to escape from your daily worries and hassles, sailing doesn't have to be an expensive hobby. Whether you own a sailboat or not, you can rent a sailboat and still have lots of fun out there on the water. Believe it or not, sailing is less expensive than most hobbies such as flying a small plane. You also don't need to be super-fit, able-bodies or a strong swimmer to enjoy sailing. All you need is some basic sailing skills and be comfortable to be out on the water in a buoyancy aid.

Most are always asking; is sailing an expensive hobby? Well, it can be an expensive hobby but it doesn't have to. It all depends on what you want and how much you're willing to spend on this thrilling hobby. In essence, sailing shouldn't just be meant for those with the wealth of a monarch. Instead, even an average salaried man could easily get into. All you have to do is take a basic sailing course, get or rent a decent sailboat and you'll be good to enjoy the freedom and tranquility that comes with being a sailor.

In this post, we'll show you why sailing should not be an expensive hobby.


Table of contents

Why Choose Sailing as a Hobby

Sailing is, without a doubt, a superb hobby that's very entertaining and fun for everyone. Sailing doesn't require you to be a strong swimmer or able-bodied to participate. This is a hobby that you can do alone, with your wife, friend, and even kids. As much as sailing is a great hobby, it's not as relaxing and enjoying your freedom out on the water as most outsiders are made to think.

Sailing, of course, takes work and muscles to keep the sailboat trimmed and moving accordingly. You have to constantly check the weather and move around the boat to tweak the sails or to turn the boat in the required direction. And that's not all; it also takes a lot of effort and knowledge to raise the mast and sails before you start enjoying the freedom of exploring new places in your sailboat. In some cases, especially when there is a storm, sailing can turn awry and dangerous. This means that you'll always have to be careful while out there sailing. In essence, sailing is not all about enjoying champagne out there on the water. It takes time to learn and it's not easy but also very rewarding and fun.

Breaking Down the Costs of Sailing

Here are the costs associated with taking up sailing as a hobby.

Sailing Lessons

As we noted earlier, many sailors feel that sailing is in their blood and can't even remember how they learned sailing. Their introduction to sailing was perhaps so gradual and natural that they can't actually remember how it happened. But if you aren't one of those who can proudly say that they've been sailing since they were kids, it could be worse to take up sailing lessons and learn the basics.

While some sailors often point out that they don't believe that sailing lessons are worth the money, we strongly recommend that you should take up sailing lessons and learn the basic principles of sailing. Most sailing classes may be expensive and can cost you under $500 and you'll get formal lessons, which is far much better than just learning how to sail by reading books or from the internet. The best part of having formal classes is that you'll have practical lessons, which is much better than just reading books.

Another part of learning sailing is learning how to swim. Although you need not be a strong swimmer, it makes sense that you should know how to swim since you'll be on the water in a boat and anything can happen. This means that you should have a wet suit unless you'll be sailing in a very hot climate.

Learning to sail through books may be fun but joining a sailing club and taking some lessons will make you a better sailor. Sailing clubs are like golf clubs and the costs may vary. All in all, taking a formal lesson is a lot better and it doesn't have to leave holes in your pockets. They may not be very cheap but these lessons will help you understand the basic mechanics of sailing and is the only way to go if you'll be sailing on the ocean.

Sailing Gear and Equipment

The type of clothing you should wear when sailing depends on several factors such as your climate and the type of vessel you'll be using. But the standard clothing you require to sail should have must include a waterproof outer, warm layers, and sturdy shoes. You can have sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes and head from sun rays.

You should also have a full-length wetsuit, wetsuit boot, buoyancy aid, and safety jackets. As you attain more experience, your sailing gear and equipment will vary. The best thing to do when starting out is not to go for bigger and expensive brands. Instead, choose cheaper alternatives that don't require you to break the bank.

While it's generally advisable that you shouldn't sail in conditions that exceed your own sailing ability, having appropriate clothing plays an integral role in ensuring that you stay safe. An essential part of safety is letting someone ashore know what your plans are and he/she should expect you back. More importantly, carry a Very High Frequency (VHF) radio and call 999 and ask for the coastguard in case of an emergency.

Renting vs. Buying a Sailing

Rental prices may vary widely depending on your area but renting a sailboat is a lot cheaper than buying a sailboat. Small sailboat measuring between 14 feet and 18 feet may be less expensive to own and maintain. You can buy a decent but used sailboat for about $6k depending on its age and size. Such sailboats do not have an auxiliary engine and you can car-top them or trailer them to where you want and also easily keep them in your backyard especially when not in use.

Sailboats also require little to no maintenance on a yearly basis. Replacing a few fittings occasionally and washing them is all you need and you'll be good to go. You'll, of course, have to insure the sailboat and this may set you back around $200 per year. Additionally, you may need to buy new lines, rigs, and new sails if the boat is 15 years or older.

Sailboats measuring between 20 and 24 feet are relatively low cost and can be easily trailered and kept at home when not in use. This size obviously requires a small outboard engine for auxiliary power, which means that it has more maintenance costs and other expenses. The costs of owning a sailboat measuring 25 feet or more may be a lot bigger as they need dock space, much bigger sails, dedicated motoring engines, more expensive rigging, and many more. As such, owning a bigger sailboat is much expensive and may mean that your sailing hobby becomes a bit expensive.

When it comes to renting a sailboat, there are lots of companies and sail clubs that offer rental boats. These are generally a lot cheaper than owning a boat as there are no additional costs. You don't have to worry about maintenance or dock costs. You, however, have to make sure that you know how to sail before renting the boat or you'll also have to hire a skipper and this can be a little expensive. Keep in mind that the cost of renting a sailboat may depend on a number of things such as your area, the size of the boat, and how long you want to use the boat.

Maintenance and Insurance

Maintenance and insurance are an integral part of sailing, especially if you've decided to buy a boat. This will, however, depend on the size of your boat. As we mentioned earlier, smaller boats will cost less in terms of insurance and maintenance. You can also store them in your backyard and trailer them to the water whenever you want to sail.

On the contrary, bigger boats will cost a lot more when it comes to maintenance and insurance and this means that having one will make sailing an expensive hobby. Again, you cannot haul a bigger boat every time you want to sail, so you may have to include halyard costs.

That being said, you should always start small and keep the costs on the minimum. If you love sailing, you can go for something bigger and more comfortable later. The best thing to do is to start small, learn how to sail before graduating to bigger and more comfortable boats.

So is Sailing an Expensive Hobby?

In a nutshell, sailing doesn't have to be an expensive hobby. While you can learn how to sail by reading a book and watching YouTube videos, we always recommend that you take sailing lessons and you'll be better at it. You can choose to rent a sailboat if you can't afford to own a boat. If you want to own a boat, you can choose to start small and keep the costs minimal before going for a bigger and more comfortable boat.

You can also find a ton of people who are willing to share the costs of sailing and this can be a good place to start. On the contrary, you shouldn't try to justify the cost of sailing if you enjoy it as a hobby. You can spend what you can afford and find a way to enjoy it at that level.

All in all, sailing is a quite fascinating yet challenging hobby and so you should go for it and have fun!

Is Sailing An Expensive Hobby?
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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