Are Sailboats Expensive To Maintain?

If you’re excited about getting into sailing, you are probably debating about whether renting a sailboat regularly is the best way to go or whether you should purchase a boat. You may be amazed by how affordable quality sailboats can be, but initial costs are not your only consideration.

Are Sailboats Expensive To Maintain?

Are sailboats expensive to maintain? How much it costs to maintain your sailboat depends on a number of factors, including the size and material of your boat, how often you use it, and how you store it. On average, it costs between $1000 and $5,000 every year to maintain a cruising sailboat. 

Here is everything you need to know about how expensive sailboats are to maintain and some tips to help you reduce those costs.

Cost Of Maintaining A Sailboat

If you’re considering getting into the sailboat hobby, one of your first questions will be whether this is a hobby that you can afford.

Many estimates put sailing under the cost of other hobbies like golf and hunting, but that doesn’t mean that this is a cheap hobby. Here are some of the costs that you can expect to pay to maintain your sailboat.

Insurance, Registration, And Taxes

Like any other vehicle, boats come with some costs you may not think of at first. Registration and taxes will probably only cost you about $150 to $200 per year.

When you buy the boat, you’ll need to pay taxes on it, which can be a significant initial cost. Depending on where you live, you’ll need to pay between 4% and 10% of the purchase price in taxes when you buy and register your boat.

Insurance costs vary by state, aspects about your boat, and your personal history. On average, costs are between $200 and $600 per year to keep your boat insured. Insurance is important to cover damages to your boat. It is also essential to cover any damages that your boat may cause to other people’s property.

Storage Fees

Storing your boat is one of the most important expenses you’ll need to consider. Smaller boats can be trailered relatively easily.

You may be able to store a small sailboat on your property for free, but many people will need to pay some storage fees. The cost to store your boat in an open storage lot will be much less than if you keep it in a slip at marina. It’s up to you how to store your boat, depending on your needs. 

If you regularly use your boat, you may want to keep it somewhere that you can easily trailer from to the water or at a slip in the marina.

If you only use your sailboat seasonally, you may store it in a dry dock in the offseason and keep it in a marina or on a trailer during the season. 

The larger your boat, the fewer options you’ll have in storage. Multihulls with a wide berth also have more considerations in storage. They may need a special slip at a marina or additional square footage at a dry dock or a lot. 

Cost Of Storing Your Boat At A Marina

You may pay nightly, monthly, or seasonally to store your boat in a slip at a marina. The cost is generally by foot. The larger the boat, the more you will pay to store it at a marina.

You may expect to pay between a couple hundred and a couple thousand dollars annually to store your boat at a marina.

Research the marina fees in your area and consider the size of the boat you want to buy to decide the cost you would have to pay for a marina slip. 

Buy Or Rent A Dock

Depending on your situation, you may find it more convenient and affordable to buy or rent a property that has a dock to keep your boat at.

Make sure you look into amenities like electricity and water if you are planning on using a property in this way.

Sail Maintenance, Repair, And Replacement

The sails are one of the most essential elements of your boat. Old sails slow your boat down and reduce your ability to steer, especially when you go upwind.

Having a sail fail while you’re underway can be disastrous. Therefore, planning for sail maintenance is essential. New sails can cost thousands of dollars. 

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You may need to replace your sails every few years or every decade, depending on how much you use them. Sail cover will only cost you a couple of hundred dollars, but it will save the life of your sails. 

How To Reduce Sailboat Maintenance Cost

Choose The Smallest Boat You Can

The smaller your boat, the less it will cost to maintain. Being out on the water is nothing like being inside a recreational vehicle or a house. You may find that you need much less room than you may have expected.

Try renting a few boats and determine how small you can go to reduce the cost that you will pay for sailboat ownership.

Pick Rugged Materials

That wooden deck and teak interior lining may look appealing in the ads, but you may find that the beauty doesn’t make up for the cost and effort of maintaining such materials.

Pick tough materials like fiberglass for the hull and aluminum or stainless steel for details.

Choose A Boat That You Can Trailer

Marina costs are a considerable additional expense in sailboat ownership, so being able to trailer your sailboat can make a big difference. Whether you have room to store your boat on your own property or you pay for dry storage, the cost will be significantly less than paying marina fees. 

Furthermore, storing a boat out of the water keeps growth from accumulating on the bottom, which will save you money in bottom painting. Storing your boat away from the saltwater helps it to last longer. 

Do It Yourself

Sailors tend to be self-reliant people by nature, so many don’t mind plunging into learning new skill sets to maintain a sailboat more affordably.

Doing things yourself is a great way to save money as well as get to know your boat intimately and make it better. Here are a few ways that you can maintain your boat yourself and save money.

  • Running your own rigging 
  • Restitching and patching your sails
  • Making your own sun shields
  • Doing your own heavy maintenance like bottom painting and waxing

Are Sailboats More Expensive Than Powerboats To Maintain?

In many ways, powerboats have less to maintain than sailboats, but those things tend to be more expensive to keep up. The powerful and heavy engines needed to run a powerboat need maintenance that is more difficult to do by yourself.

Powerboats need to be waxed and their bottoms need to be painted just like sailboats. Of course, the cost of running a powerboat is substantially more, since gas is needed any time you run the boat.

How To Offset The Cost Of Your Sailboat

If you want more sailboat than you think you can afford, there are a few options that you can look into.

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What works for you depends entirely on your situation and preferences, as well as what kind of boat and what you want to use the boat for.


Whether you let other people take your boat out or you take people out on your boat, chartering is a great way to offset some of the costs of sailboat ownership.

There are many companies that can help you to charter your boat. If you only use your boat a couple of months a year, this can be an excellent option.

If you enjoyed having guests out on your boat anyway, you may enjoy taking guests out on charter sails.

Not only can chartering offset the cost of maintaining your sailboat, but it could even become a lucrative side business for an enterprising sailor.

Fishing Trips

Sailboats are not especially well known for being great to fish off of, but you are sure to find guests who are happy to catch fewer fish in exchange for the lovely experience of sailing while they fish.

If your sailboat can maintain a decent trolling clip, consider chartering your boat for fishing trips. 

You may have a lot of fun, your guests are sure to have a nice time whether they catch anything or not, and you can enjoy not having spent a lot of money on gas chasing the fish like your powerboat competitors.

Joint Ownership

In many ways, a sailboat is a natural fit for a joint ownership situation. Very few people use their boats most of the year.

It isn’t difficult to find situations that work for two or more people to enjoy a sailboat and share the expenses of ownership.

Joint ownership has significant advantages over chartering; everyone who owns the boat will have a share in the investment and therefore have a reason to maintain it well. 

The fewer partners you can have in such a situation, the better. For seaworthy cruising boats, seasonal arrangements in which the boat spends half of the year in one place and the other half in another can be very convenient.