How much money does a cruising sailboat cost? What kind of sailboat do I need? These are questions that we get asked all the time. The answer depends on what kind of sailing you will be doing, how old you’re willing to go, and your desired level of comfort. Of course, there are other parameters to consider, but for the sake of brevity, we’re going to keep it to these three for now. Keep in mind that in this article we won’t be discussing the cost of refitting or upgrades, but only the cost of the boat itself.
How Old Are You Willing To Go?
Brand new sailboats are appealing. Their airy interiors and convenient swim platforms attract even the saltiest of us, but they are expensive. An old sailboat is generally going to need a lot of work (and money), but if you're willing, you can get a well-made world cruiser at a fraction of the price of a new one. Older boats are often built much stronger than newer ones, before they realized how strong fiberglass truly is!
What type of sailing will you be doing?
Presumably, you’re here reading this because you are thinking about buying a sailboat, which is super exciting. But before you get ahead of yourself, take some time to reflect on the type of sailing you intend to do most often. You’ve almost certainly heard it before, but all boats are compromises. You just need to find the boat that most suits your specific needs. There is something to be said about a tool that effectively performs the task it was designed to perform.
At some point or another, almost everyone who develops an interest in sailing decides that they want to cross oceans, wear earned tribal tattoos, and sail around the world in pursuit of a novel lifestyle akin to the explorers of yesteryear.
While these aspirations are beautiful, the reality is that the vast majority of sailors stick to the coastline and do the occasional overnight passage. There is nothing wrong with that, the best beaches are on land.
One of the biggest benefits of this type of sailing is that the selection of suitable boats for coastal cruising is enormous. There’s Beneteau, Jeanneau, Hunter, Catalina; the list goes on. These companies produce boats in large numbers — over 800 Beneteau Oceanis 40s have been built. With so many options to choose from, finding a production boat to fit your budget shouldn’t be too hard.
30 to 45-foot boats that fit into this category can cost anywhere from $30,000 on the low end—if you’re willing to do some work—and up to $500,000 for a brand new vessel. Keep in mind that the cost of the boat itself isn’t the only thing you need to pay for. The cheap boat is going to need a lot of work/money to get her going, and the expensive new boat will eventually need a lot of work/money to stay in good shape. The pro to getting a boat that needs work, is that you'll get to know her inside and out as you dig into the repairs.
If you’re dead-set on sailing around the world and want a boat sea-worthy enough to do so in safety, your list of available boats is quite a bit smaller. Boats in this category are made in substantially smaller numbers, but with that, the care and focus given during the building process result in beautiful boats capable of taking you anywhere you want to go. The word craftsmanship comes to mind.
Once again, the matter of age is important: If you’re willing to put in the work that accompanies owning an older boat, you can save yourself a lot of money. At the time of writing, there are a few mid-80s Tayana 37s that are just about ready to cruise listed on Yachtworld for the tune of around $75,000. That’s a boat that will take you around the world in safety and relative comfort.
If you have the money, you can of course spend millions on your sailing vessel. The brand new Kraken 50 is a boat designed exclusively for crossing oceans in safety and style.
Desired level of comfort
At the end of the day, the biggest factor in determining the price of a cruising sailboat is comfort: How willing are you to go without? How small of a space can you tolerate? If you ditch the watermaker and decide to row your dinghy to shore, you can save a lot of money. Money that can be spent to keep you cruising longer. While it’s certainly not the most comfortable lifestyle, people have successfully sailed around the world on tiny little 23-foot boats.
Sailing Lake Tahoe with Cruisers Academy
The crew at cruisers academy has a ton of first-hand experience and can happily answer all of your questions about sailing. If you want to learn to sail in California, come to Lake Tahoe for to begin your sailing journey with the beautiful backdrop of the Sierra Nevadas. If you're ready to hop straight into cruising, check out their offshore sailing courses in Mexico.
Come learn from the best and discover exactly why our students leave us reviews like this:
“Brady and Blue possess a spirited combination of energy and smarts that translates to trust on the water and fun on the boat. We were welcomed as friends and treated like we belong. A vessel for learning or for simple disconnect, we will be back. Put Brady, Blue and Lintika on your ‘to do’ list.” - Meryl M.