Is Sailing An Expensive Hobby?

For many sailors, sailing is less of a hobby than it is a way of life. Sailing puts you into nature and lets you escape your daily concerns. But how much does it cost to get the wind in your sails?

Is Sailing An Expensive Hobby?

Sailing can cost around $1000 to get into and $50 a month to maintain. It could also cost $100,000+ initially with monthly costs in the thousands. Whether sailing is an expensive hobby for you depends on whether you rent or buy, how you store and maintain your boat and what boat you buy.

Here is everything that you need to know about the costs of sailing and sailboat acquisition and how the cost of sailing compares to other hobbies that you might be interested in.

Sailing Costs

Learning to sail

If you grew up sailing, you might just read some manuals on the sailboat that you’re using to get the hang of things. For those of us who don’t have a background in sailing or arent’ sure how much we remember, there are a couple of ways to get started:

  • Start small. One great way to start sailing is to begin with a tiny, inexpensive sailboat and figure things out as you go. Read some books and articles, watch some YouTube videos, and have fun. You can get a little sailboat for less than $1000. Have fun learning the basics of rigging and sailing, and don’t sweat the bumps… and occasional complete capsize.
  • Take lessons. If you want to get started with a more substantial sailboat, lessons are a good idea. Lessons may cost around $500 or so, and you’ll get hands-on, practical training. You may even learn how to sail on your own boat, which can be invaluable. You can also try out some common small sailboats, which can help you decide which to invest in. 

The Boat

Sailboats can cost as little as a couple of hundred dollars to well over $100,000. The price you pay depends on a wide range of factors, including size, age, technology, multihull vs. monohull, rigged or not, and more.

Is Sailing An Expensive Hobby?

The choice you make depends on whether you want a weekend or seasonal boat or a liveaboard cruiser, as well as your climate, freshwater or ocean, and personal preferences.

How much does a nice sailboat cost?

The most expensive sailboats cost millions of dollars. A sailboat that the average American would consider to be a nice boat will generally cost around $50,000. Expect to pay around $25,000 for a 26’ Island Packet or around $40,000 for a 35’ Ocean Cruiser. If you’re looking into a used boat, the cost could be much lower.

How much does an affordable sailboat cost?

A seaworthy sailboat may cost less than you expect. A Sabre can cost as little as $7000. If you’re just looking for something fun to sail, a Hobie Cat can be had for as little as $5000. Prospective sailors with a knack for tools and do-it-yourself projects may be able to take on a boat that needs repairs for much lower than market value.


One of the most serious cost considerations for many boat owners is storage. Small sailboats can be stored in a yard, garages, or storage units. Check with homeowner regulations to be sure that it is ok to store your small boat in your yard.

Keep in mind that you’ll also need to invest in a trailer if you’re moving your boat yourself. Depending on the size of your boat, the trailer can cost from around $500 to over $1000.

Is Sailing An Expensive Hobby?

Larger boats need a dock, marina, or dry dock in between uses or between seasons. Expect to pay between $50 and $200 per foot per season for indoors storage and $20 – $50 per foot to store your boat outdoors. For a slot at a marina where you can access your boat when you want to, expect to pay at least $300 a month, plus costs for electricity, water, etc.

If you’re living on your boat, marina costs may not seem like a significant fee, but if you’re also maintaining a home, these costs can add up quickly.


You will need to invest in rigging if you buy a sailboat that doesn’t already come rigged. Rigging will need to be replaced every five to ten years, depending on the quality and how you use it.

Rigging costs from a couple of hundred dollars to outfit a very small sailboat to upwards of $2000 for a larger rig. You’ll also need ropes and other equipment to rig your boat. The cost of rigging will be even higher if you want extra or specialized equipment like a spinnaker for light winds.

Maintenance and Insurance

Sailboat insurance isn’t terribly expensive, on average. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars a year on average. In some cases insurance can go as high as $1000 for luxury sailboats or high-risk usage. Safety measures and experience can bring down insurance costs.

You’ll need to repaint the bottom of your hull regularly. Depending on whether you can easily haul your boat out or not, there may be costs associated with dry storage while the work is done.

Your sailboat’s hull will need to be waxed regularly. Engines need regular maintenance as well. Costs aren’t necessarily high if you do the work yourself, but finding workers with the specialized skills to service your boat can get expensive.

Other Equipment

A lot of equipment is needed for sailing, and the costs add up. Most of this equipment is a one time purchase, but some of it will need to be replaced or updated over the years.

  • Anchor. Your investment in your entire sailboat depends on the anchor, so this isn’t somewhere you want to skimp. Depending on the size of your boat and the type of anchor holding you’ll have where you sail, the anchor that you need can cost from around $50 to several hundred.
  • Lifejackets and other safety equipment. Law requires that your boat carries lifejackets for everyone on board at all times. You should also have floats to throw out, flares, and other equipment required by law. You shouldn’t expect to pay more than around $100 for your safety equipment.
  • Cushions and sunscreens. If you want to lounge and enjoy your sailing experience, you’ll need something comfortable to sit on. Cushions should be water-resistant. It’s convenient if they double as floats as well. Screens to protect you from the sun are essential on sunny days, especially when frequent tacking keeps the shade from the sail changing constantly. Depending on the quality of cushions and screens and how many you need, the price can vary from around $50 to well over $500.
  • Navigation and sensing equipment. Most sailors today have a GPS navigation system on their sailboats. Wind sensors, depth finders, and plot charters can all make sailing easier for you as well. This equipment can run into the $1000s very quickly.

Is Renting a Sailboat a Good Option?

Most people dream of owning their own sailboat, but if your living circumstances or budget make ownership unrealistic, is renting a good alternative?

You don’t have to invest in your own boat to enjoy sailing whenever you want. Renting a sailboat is a great way to enjoy the hobby at a fraction of the cost.

It’s also a great way to ease into sailing. If you’re not sure how often you’ll want to take out a sailboat, start by renting to help you determine if buying would be a good investment.

Renting can also help you decide what kind of boat you want before you make an investment in the purchase or choose the best boat for each trip. It saves you from purchase costs, maintenance, and storage.

A beautiful sailboat that is big enough for you and a few of your friends to enjoy but small enough to handle easily can be rented for only around $100 for a full day. This is a great way to enjoy the hobby of sailing at a very reasonable price.

Closing Thougths

If you’ve been dreaming of the open seas, cost should not stand in your way. Sailing can be very affordable when conservative decisions are made. This age-old hobby is still bringing joy to thousands of Americans today and you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy the yachting lifestyle.

Here’s what you need to know about the costs of living on board your sailboat in the Caribbean. Still on the fence between motoring and sailing? These are some cost considerations.

How do the Costs of Sailing Compare to Motorboating?

Sailboats and motorboats are both great ways to get out on the water, so how do their costs compare? As a rule, sailing is generally more affordable than motoring. Wind power is free, whereas gas can get expensive if you use your motorboat a lot.

Powerful engines can be very expensive, and often exceed the cost of sailing rigging for the same sized boat. While sailboats almost always are equipped with an engine as well, sailboat motors can be smaller and less expensive than what is needed to power a motorboat.

When conditions aren’t favorable, sailboats can make slow time without wasting money, which isn’t true for motorboats.

How Does the Cost of Sailing Compare to Other Hobbies?

If you’re trying to decide which hobby to get involved in to get you out and enjoying nature while learning a new skill, you may be considering more options than sailing. Hunting and golfing also seem like great options.

On the surface, these other hobbies may seem like they’d be less expensive, but by some estimates, these hobbies may be more expensive per year than sailing. Hunters and golfers both spend over $3000 every year. On the other hand, you can be an avid sailor for around $1500 per year.