Is A Sailboat A Good Investment?

It’s hard to deny the draw of a sailboat, but can the argument be made that it is a valuable investment? A sailboat may be a decent investment under the right circumstances. 

Despite the fact that sailboats are not typically what people think of when they are trying to make wise financial decisions, in some situations it can be a good investment.

Is a sailboat a good investment? A sailboat is a good investment if you can afford to buy it out of pocket, will live aboard, or can store it on your property, and especially if you can find ways to make money using your sailboat.

If you are dreaming of making an investment into your sailing hobby, you may find that you have more to back up the decision than you initially thought. Here’s what you need to know about choosing to invest in a sailboat.

Is a Sailboat a Good Investment?

Boats typically aren’t cheap. It’s hard enough to spend a lot of money on something like a house in which you are very likely to see an increase in value and get your money out plus interest later on.

It’s even harder to spend money on something that you’re not sure whether you’ll get your money out of or not.

Sailboats are not stereotypically good investments, but for the right person and situation, a sailboat may be a good investment. Here are some things to consider to help you decide whether a boat is a good investment for you.

Can You Pay Upfront?

If you asked most people whether they could buy the sailboat they want with the cash they have on hand, they would likely say no. However, buying your boat upfront is good advice.

Not only does this keep you safe from making a bigger investment than you can afford, but it also keeps you from buying more boat than you really need. You may be amazed by how small of a sailboat you can cruise on and even live aboard.

Look at the funds you have available and try to choose a sailboat that can fit within your budget. If you can’t afford a sailboat that you want even with significant research, it may be a good idea to spend more time saving money before you make your investment in a sailboat.

How Will You Use the Boat?

If you will only use your sailboat a few times a year or seasonally, it is unlikely to be as good of an investment as if you were living aboard.

As a rule of thumb, people who live aboard their sailboats are often making a better investment in buying a boat than people who own a house and must keep the boat somewhere.

Keeping a boat at a marina or at a dry dock will incur extra expenses. Of course, if you have property on which you can store your sailboat, using it infrequently won’t be as much of an issue for you.

In some cases, such as if you are living and working in an area with very high property prices and rent, you may actually save money by living on a sailboat.

If you intend to live aboard your sailboat while you are working or going to school, it may be an excellent investment as opposed to paying rent or buying property.

It is worth noting that living on a sailboat in such areas may also dramatically increase your quality of life. Living on the water in a major city is often a lot more pleasant than living in an apartment at similar cost.

If you intend to take your sailboat open water sailing, it may be a larger initial investment than if you were choosing a sailboat that is not seaworthy. Such boats are sturdier and may even be unsinkable.

If you don’t need to sail on the open ocean, it’s best not to spend the extra money on this kind of boat. It’s important to know for sure whether open water sailing is an important quality for you before you buy.

Can You do Your Own Maintenance?

No matter what sailboat you buy, whether it is extremely expensive or quite affordable, whether it is pre-owned or new, it will require a lot of maintenance. In fact, many sailors swear that buying a new boat requires more initial maintenance for the first few years than buying a used boat.

This is because most new sailboats require a lot of tinkering to get them the way you want them. You’ll need to invest in seat cushions, awnings, sunscreens, gutter systems, etc.

If you want to live aboard and sail in the open ocean or in areas where there may not be amenities, you may also want to install a solar and water collection system.

Whatever you want to do with your sailboat, you are likely to find that there is a lot of maintenance involved. If you can sew your own seat covers and sunscreens, wax your own halls, and de-mildew the interior yourself, you will spend a lot less on maintenance.

Keep in mind that even if you do it yourself, expenses can be high. Bottom paint alone can cost hundreds or even thousands depending on the size of your boat. However, the cost will be significantly less if you do it yourself as opposed to having it done by somebody else.

Be honest with yourself about your own handyman abilities. If you have a hard time maintaining your house or car, you are likely to also need a professional to help you maintain your boat.

If you are buying an investment boat, such as one that has historic value, good maintenance will be absolutely essential to your capacity to make a return on your investment.

Wooden Boats require a tremendous amount of specialized maintenance and understanding to stay in good condition. Be sure that you’re up for this kind of task if you expect your sailboat to be a good investment.

Can You Use Your Sailboat to Make Money?

Sailing is a highly desirable and enjoyable activity that very few people get to do. If you buy a sailboat, you’re very likely to find that all of your friends come out of the woodwork and you are the most popular guy around.

If you can capitalize on people’s enjoyment of sailing to make an income using your sailboat, it can quickly become not only a good investment but a serious money maker.

Not everybody can turn their love of sailing into a career, but if you are committed to making money with your sailboat and you are patient, you will likely find that this is a good technique.

Here are a few ways you can use your sailboat to dramatically increase your initial investment:

  • Day cruises. Cruises for the day, a few hours, or just for the sunrise or sunset can bring in lots of money without requiring a lot of commitment from you. Even a couple of customers can be a meaningful income, but if your boat can fit many people, this can be a great way to go.
  • Chartered cruises. Do you know all of the best spots to sail to in your area? If you can plan a great trip for yourself and your friends, you may also be able to bring paying customers on the cruise of their life.
  • Fishing trips. Sailboats aren’t typically renowned for fishing, but you may be surprised by how many customers are willing to trade in some of the convenience of fishing on a powerboat for the charm of taking a sailboat.
  • Rent out your boat. This idea strikes fear into the hearts of most boat owners, and it is perfectly reasonable if you’re not willing to take this kind of risk with your beloved sailboat. However, if you are willing to take a risk, this can be a great way to make money without having to do anything except for own the boat. If you aren’t willing to go in for having someone take your boat out of the water, consider just renting it out at the marina or on anchor.

How to Reduce Sailboat Expenditure

The best way to be sure that your sailboat is a good investment is to spend as little buying and operating it as possible. Too many people have to say goodbye to their sailing dreams because they buy a boat that they cannot store, maintain, and use sufficiently to make it worth the cost.

Having to sell your boat when you hadn’t planned to is typically going to result in a loss of money for you. At best, you may expect to sell a used boat at the same cost as when you bought it if you made improvements.

Sometimes a boat does sell at nearly the cost you bought it if you make improvements. However, with the exception of a few rare heritage historic boats, selling a sailboat is typically not a good investment.

Is A Sailboat A Good Investment?

Reducing the expenditure is the best way to be sure that you get to keep your sailboat and consider it a good investment in the long term:

  • Go small. As mentioned before, choosing the smallest boat and one that you can pay for out-of-pocket sets you up for success with a boat that you will be able to keep as well as buy.
  • Buy a used boat. Shiny new things are attractive, but a used boat will likely come with all kinds of improvements that the previous owner made as well as coming at a reduced cost.
  • Buy what you can outside of the marina or boat shop. Things made specifically for boats tend to be much more expensive. This also extends to fuel. Avoiding the boat shop also keeps you from buying any of the unnecessary toys that are put on display there.

Make a Good Investment in Your Sailboat

By thinking small and making careful decisions, you can choose a sailboat and maintain it in a way that is a good investment for you.

Just keep in mind that reselling your boat is unlikely to be where you see a return on your investment and you may find ways to make good on an investment in your sailing hobby.