From the Editor: The Price of Passion

In a rare unguarded moment this summer, while discussing the cost of boat ownership, I recounted aloud the full cost of keeping a 34-foot sailboat on the water in my part of New England. My position in this debate was that boat ownership was more affordable than most people think, and I still reckon it can be.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
 Boat ownership is at its best when someone offers to help paint your bottom

Boat ownership is at its best when someone offers to help paint your bottom

In a rare unguarded moment this summer, while discussing the cost of boat ownership, I recounted aloud the full cost of keeping a 34-foot sailboat on the water in my part of New England. Taking into account winter storage, insurance, mooring service, mooring fees and launch service, the total was not far short of $4,000—and that doesn’t account for bottom painting, covering the boat in winter and general maintenance. Say another $600-$1,000 or so for those incidentals and improvements—and that’s with me doing all the work myself. Call it $100 a week, winter and summer, in an average year—and in an exceptional year, such as this one when the boat needed an expensive professional repair, well, I don’t really want to think about it.

My position in this debate was that boat ownership was more affordable than most people think, and I still reckon it can be. If I had been smart enough to buy a house with room for a medium sized cruising boat in the yard I’d save around $1,500, and if we gave up the launch service in favor of buzzing out to the boat in our own tender we’d save a few hundred more.

Trading down to a smaller boat would trim hundreds more off the annual outlay. After the initial purchase cost, a daysailer that I could keep on a trailer in the winter would cost very little to maintain.

Or maybe I could share a boat. Sharing can make a lot of sense if the demands on your time are such that you couldn’t sail every weekend anyway. (Or if you share with a priest, whose weekends are generally otherwise occupied!) But the thought of cutting all those bills in half sure is tempting.

I could forget about owning a boat altogether. I could buy a Cruising 35 membership at the Boston Sailing Center for $6,475, which would entitle me to take out cruising boats the same size as ours for not much more than our average annual spend—and with no maintenance worries. At Boston’s Sailtime franchise, a $6,900 fee would get me at least seven outings a month on a nearly new Hunter 33, with no extra costs except topping up the fuel tank after a long cruise. I wouldn’t even have to clean the boat!

Any or all of these options could be worthwhile, I reckon, depending on your financial position and the amount of time you are able to devote to messing about with a boat as opposed to actually sailing it.

Speaking strictly for myself, though, the option of not owning a boat is not an option at all. Saving money? Pah! I can’t put a price on the pleasure I get from being on the water, and I even enjoy working on the boat. Saving time? For what? I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than being on or around a sailboat.

Still, you do need to be careful when you’re enumerating what you spend on your sailing. You never know who might be listening…

Peter_Nielsen2011-thb95x120

Peter Nielsen is SAIL’s Editor in Chief.

He keeps his boat in Marblehead, MA and

sails wherever there are boats to

be sailed 

Related

101218BTSC-9887

Just Launched: Little Big Boat

Peter Nielsen looks at Beneteau’s latest entry-level boat and a new cruiser from Tartan Group Beneteau’s commitment to entry-level boats has been reaffirmed over the last year with the assimilation of the sporty Seascape line of pocket cruisers and the ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more