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:
Updated:
Original:

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 Nielsen is SAIL’s Editor in Chief.

He keeps his boat in Marblehead, MA and

sails wherever there are boats to

be sailed 

Related

Shelly-forward-last-day

Charter Advice for First-Timers

Never chartered? No worries. A vacation under sail can be the most memorable time of your life. That said, it also pays to be prepared by doing some reading, building your skills and listening to what the experts say. First and foremost, not all charter grounds are created ...read more

HugoBoss

Video: Vendeé Update

Last week Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) led the fleet across the equator. As one of the class' top sailors who's been on the Vendeé Podium twice, it seemed possible that Thomson was going to grab an early lead and hold on to it all the way around the world. But early on Saturday, he ...read more

AdobeStock_229409051

Chartering Again for the First Time

It’s been a rocky road of late for the charter industry, especially here in the Western Hemisphere. First came hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean followed by Dorian in the Bahamas. There has also, of course, been the coronavirus, which burst into global prominence ...read more

01 LEAD cedaryachtclub_onedesign18_hike

An Interview with Ayme Sinclair

In recent months, US Sailing, like many organizations, has been taking a closer look at diversity to ensure it’s doing the best job it can of introducing people from all backgrounds and ethnicities to the sport. As part of this effort, this past summer it organized an online ...read more

125768940_10222759720523627_5373654001582879638_n

US Sailing Presents Adaptive Sailing Panel

On Tuesday, November 24, US Sailing’s Leadership Forum will present the latest panel discussion in their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion series. This event will focus on adaptive sailing and provide practical recommendations for organizations looking to expand their adaptive ...read more

02-IMG_5971

A Carbon Neutral Circumnav with Jimmy Cornell

Historic anniversaries have always held a special fascination for me, especially if they mark a significant nautical achievement. In 1992, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ would-be voyage to India, I organized a transatlantic rally that followed the historic route of the ...read more

DJI_0068

SAIL Podcast: Jimmy Cornell’s Carbon-free Circumnav

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with bestselling author and pioneering bluewater sailor Jimmy Cornell, who set out November 19 on yet another circumnavigation aboard a newly designed, carbon-neutral Outremer 4Zero catamaran. The voyage, which ...read more

emirates-600x

Emirates Team New Zealand Splashes the last of the AC75s

Emirates Team New Zealand unveiled its second-generation AC75 yesterday, joining the other three America's Cup teams with boats in the water. In just over 100 days, this boat will attempt to defend the Cup for the Kiwis, but there's plenty of racing between now and then, with ...read more