Are Sailboats Cheaper Than Powerboats?

If you are trying to decide whether you want to purchase a sailboat or a powerboat, the cost involved in either choice is an important aspect of your decision.

Are Sailboats Cheaper Than Powerboats?

On average, sailboats are cheaper than powerboats. This is because motors tend to be very expensive, motorboats are easier to operate, and because sailboats can last longer than motorboats, along with other reasons.

Here is everything that you need to know about why sailboats are cheaper than powerboat and how you can make a decision about which is better for your lifestyle.

Why Are Sailboats So Cheap?

If you’ve been considering boat ownership and comparing the prices between similarly-sized sailboats and powerboats, you’ve probably noticed that sailboats tend to be cheaper and many are incredibly cheap.

But why are sailboats so cheap, and are there hidden costs that you’re not seeing?

  • Fewer moving pieces.  A sailboat is truly a very simple device. All you need is something that floats and something to catch the wind, and you’re on your way. It doesn’t take as much technology or moving pieces to run a sailboat as it does to run a motorboat.
  • Motors are expensive. One of the most expensive aspects of any motorboat is the motor itself. Power boats may have two, three, or even four engines to give them all the power that you may want. For some of these boats, the motors may actually cost more than the boat itself. While sailboats often have motors as well, these motors are much smaller and less expensive.
  • Sailing requires skill. One of the most straightforward reasons that you can find so many beautiful, affordable sailboats on the market is that sailing isn’t necessarily that easy to do. Too many people buy a sailboat without understanding the challenges involved in sailing and give up on the hobby.
  • Sailboats can last a long time. A well-made sailboat can last hundreds of years. While technology is constantly evolving, older sailboats are often nearly as effective as newer ones. Compare this to motorboats, which are constantly coming out with new technology and depend on the engine working perfectly to be functional. 

Do Most Sailboats Have Motors?

The vast majority of larger sailboats have some kind of motor, even if it is only a petite, simple model. Sailing directly into a port or marina can be challenging.

If the wind isn’t cooperative, it can even be almost impossible. A small engine helps sailors to navigate where wind isn’t as effective. The motor may not be powerful enough to propel the boat forward through surf or against strong wind, but generally, it is at least strong enough to move the boat in calm waters.

Are Sailboats Cheaper Than Powerboats? Do Most Sailboats Have Motors? #boating #sailing #sailboat #boatlife

Very small sailboats are much less likely to have motors, for a couple of reasons:

  • They capsize more easily. Very small sailboats can tip over relatively easily, which will ruin a motor, so motors may not be used on these boats.
  • Every pound matters. Little sailboats generally can only carry one or two adults, so adding poundage from a motor can really make a difference in how much additional weight they can carry.
  • There are other locomotion options. Little sailboats can often be rowed,  so they don’t need a motor to move them when there isn’t any wind like larger sailboats. 

Should I Buy A Sailboat Or Motorboat?

Deciding between a powerboat and a sailboat can be a very difficult decision. It can be especially hard to make up your mind if you’ve never been involved in boating in the past.

If you don’t have experience with boating, it’s a great idea to try renting a few boats, taking classes, or whatever else you want to do to build experience.

Many of the choices between sailboats and powerboats come down to preference.

You may not know which you like more until you are out on the water and have the opportunity to experience both. That said, here is a table to help you decide which is best for you.

FeatureMotorboats Sailboats
Maintenance costRequires engine maintenance, waxing, bottom painting Needs waxing, bottom painting, sail maintenance, and possible engine maintenance
acquisition costQuite expensive, especially if two or more motors are includedRather inexpensive, especially for smaller boats
Operating costNeeds gas to run, which means that every trip can be fairly expensiveCan be free to run, depending on the wind
Convenience Goes where you want to go, when you want to go there, just by turning the key and starting the engineDepends on wind speed, direction, and other weather conditions to determine where and when you can go
Experience on the waterFast, loud, and exciting. Easy to change directions and stop and start whenever you wantSlower, quieter, and more relaxing experience on the water. More challenging to stop and start and change directions.
StorageCan be stored at a marina, trailer, or stored at dry dock with minimal effortCan be stored at a marina, trailer, or stored at dry dock, but needs to have mast and boom collapsed, and sails put away for some storage 

Choosing An Affordable Sailboat

If you have decided that you want to start your water adventure with a sailboat, picking the right one for you is the next big challenge. The right sailboat for one sailor won’t be right for another.

The market is full of great used sailboats just waiting to take you wherever you want to go. Here’s how to pick the right one for your needs.

Fiberglass Or Wood

Historically, sailboats were hand made out of wood, using skills that have been passed down for many generations. Sailboats are still made this way, and you can find absolutely gorgeous wooden boats made with age-old skills.

However, midway through the 20th century, fiberglass boat construction took hold. This allowed thousands of boats to be made in factories, revolutionizing the sailboat industry. 

While many boats were still customized to the desires of the buyer, many more were made ready to buy.

These days, you can find beautiful wooden or fiberglass boats available. In general, wooden boats tend to be more expensive or in worse condition. 

Maintaining wood is much harder than maintaining fiberglass, especially if you live in a humid climate.

If you’re in love with the look of a wooden boat, do your research to find out what will be required to maintain it before making your investment. 

Where Will You Use The Boat?

If you’re planning to live aboard your new sailboat, you’ll surely make very different decisions than if you want a weekend cruiser to take out in protected waters.

Where you will use your new sailboat is essential for determining which boat will be right for you. Here are a few factors to consider.


Some places tend to have very shallow water, while other areas have more deep water.

Look into where you want to take the boat to decide whether you need to look for a boat that has a much shallower draft or if you can handle something that draws more.

Boats that draw more often are more stable and ocean ready, but they may restrict where you can go.

Open Or Sheltered Water

If you want a boat that you can take out on the open ocean, especially to make ocean crossings, you need a much heavier-duty sailboat than if you will be taking little cruises around a lake or intercoastal in your area.

Do your research to determine whether a boat is seaworthy if you intend to take it into the ocean. 

Keep in mind that just because a boat is rated as seaworthy doesn’t mean that you have the skill to guide it through open water.

Pick a large, tough sailboat with great stability unless you have a lot of experience keeping a smaller boat from capsizing in rough water.

Where Will You Store It?

Storage is a major problem for most boat owners. Unless you have a lot of property to store a trailered boat or live on the water where you can keep your boat docked, you will probably need to find somewhere to store your boat.

Many people keep their boats in a marina where they can take it for a sail whenever they feel like it. 

You can also store your sailboat in dry storage between seasons, which is often more affordable but does not allow you to access your boat as desired. Deciding where you will store your boat is important in determining what boat you should get.


The size of your new sailboat is one of your most essential decisions. The same-sized boat may be a hardy craft for open water exploration or a  sheltered water cruiser.

The larger a boat is, the more expensive it will be to store and the harder it can be to maneuver in smaller areas. 

However, on a larger boat, you can take all of your friends out with you. If you want an ocean-worthy boat, it will almost certainly need to be a larger sailboat.