Ask SAIL: Disposable Boat

Parting with an old boat is not just “sweet sorrow,” it can also be surprisingly difficult to arrange

Ann Shelley, Bellaire, Michigan

Q: My partner has a 26-foot sailboat that has been neglected over the years. I have been tracking sale prices of boats this size, and everyone tells me it is a challenge selling a boat like this now—especially given the economic climate.

My partner is spending about $300 a month for moorage, and I swear he is losing that and more by holding onto the boat. Places also won’t take it as a donation. Apparently, they only want boats that they are confident they can sell.

What does one do with a boat no one wants? How does one dispose of something made of fiberglass that does not naturally break down?

Don Casey Replies

A: Your math is correct. Your partner is spending more every year than the boat is worth in good condition, and it is never going to go up in value. At least from a financial standpoint, he should dispose of the boat. He’ll save $3,600 every year after.

Because the boat has little, if any, cash value, no charity will be interested. But if the boat is still basically sound, you just need to find a sailor or would-be sailor up for the challenge of breathing new life into an old boat. Good Old Boat Magazine hosts a web page at listing boats like your partner’s neglected little yacht. The listing is free, but asking prices are limited to not more than $5,000. In your case, with the meter running at $300 per month, the wise thing may be to offer this boat for free.

A second forum for disposing of unwanted boats is Bone Yard Boats, a quarterly newsletter that saves old boats from being broken up. Most listings here are for wood boats, more power than sail, but some fiberglass boats are included. The listing is free, but will likely be slower to yield results, as the offering does not appear until the next quarterly newsletter is published. You can find more information at

Other possibilities are an ad on eBay, on craigslist, in a local “shopper” publication, or on the notice boards of nearby marinas, boatyards or sailing clubs. Your partner’s boat still has dream value. You just need to publicize its availability.


Don Casey has written many books and articles on marine maintenance and repairs




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