Why Are Sailboats So Expensive?

Why Are Sailboats So Expensive?

If you are shopping for your ideal sailboat, you may have noticed that the prices are all over the place. Some sailboats can be had for only a couple of thousand dollars, while others cost as much as a luxury house.

Why Are Sailboats So Expensive?

Why are sailboats so expensive? Sailboats are expensive when they are larger, outfitted with superior technology, and in great condition. You’ll pay more for a new than a used sailboat in most circumstances. Multihulls tend to cost more than monohulls, and seaworthy boats are more expensive than those that are only appropriate for sheltered waters.

If you’ve ever wondered why sailboats are so expensive and what you can do to find the best deal in a sailboat that you’ll love, this article is for you.

Why Are Sailboats So Expensive?

The price for sailboats varies dramatically, but there can definitely be some sticker shock when you’re considering some of the higher end boats. Here are some of the aspects that go into the price of a sailboat.

New Or Used

Perhaps the most important element when you are considering the cost of a sailboat is whether the boat is used or new. New boats, naturally, cost considerably more. However, you will also pay a lot of money for a well-maintained used sailboat. 

Fiberglass holds up extremely well over the years. There is even a good argument to be made for buying a used sailboat. Used boats have usually been customized by their owners. They often come with custom sun shields, sail bags, etc. Furthermore, all of the cleats and winches will likely already be positioned in the right place for the sails that are on the boat.

Materials

The vast majority of sailboats are made of fiberglass. Fiberglass is inexpensive, light, and extremely durable. However, traditionally sailboats were made of wood. Many sailboats are still made of wood using traditional techniques today. 

A wooden sailboat in excellent condition is likely going to cost more than a fiberglass boat of similar size. This is because wooden boats are much harder to build and maintain than fiberglass.

Whether the boat is new or used, if the wood is in good condition, it will likely be expensive.

Size

The bigger a sailboat is, the more you can expect it to cost. Larger boats are generally more likely to be seaworthy, and of course, they can hold more people and cargo. It is also more challenging to build larger boats and store them while they are being built. 

Large sailboats need more manpower and less can be done on a factory line. The larger the boat that you are considering, the more you can expect to pay.

Number Of Hulls

A sailboat with only one hull is known as a monohull. These are the classic sailboats that most of us think of when we imagine sailing.

Monohulls are generally cheaper than boats with more than one hull. If the boat has two hulls, it is known as a catamaran, and if it has three hulls, it is a trimaran. 

Catamarans and trimarans often cost more, especially if more than one hull is living space. It takes more effort to cover the more extensive interior of multihulls. It can also be more expensive to construct multihulls because attachment between hulls must have a balance of rigidity and flexibility.

Technology Included

You can expect to pay a higher price for sailboats that already have navigation technology installed, are equipped with a speaker system, and have cleats, wenches, sales, and lines already in place. 

You may balk at the increased cost of an outfitted sailboat, but it can save you time, money, and headaches to choose a boat that already has a system that works well together.

Extras like solar panels or a fridge can make a big difference in your quality of life. It may be much more affordable and convenient to have them included. 

Is A Sailboat A Good Investment?

Whether a sailboat will be a good investment for you depends entirely on what you expect to get out of the investment.

There are certainly ways to invest your money that will pay off better, but you may find that you get a lot of pleasure out of a sailboat and won’t lose too much money when you resell it.  

A sailboat can be a good investment compared to a recreational vehicle or a powerboat. Here are a few considerations to help you decide whether a sailboat is the right choice for your leisure money investment.

How Often Will You Use It?

If you live on the water or near the water and feel confident that you would use a sailboat most weekends, it is probably a much better investment than if you are only thinking about using the boat on an occasional vacation.

If you’re already spending money renting sailboats on weekends and holidays, it is much more likely that you’ll get your money’s worth out of your sailboat.

How Well Will You Maintain It?

A sailboat that has been extremely well maintained and is outfitted with  customized rigging, sun shields, and technology will have a much higher resale value.

If you are hoping to be able to get a substantial amount of your money back when you sell the boat in a few years, be sure that you are dedicated to maintaining and improving it.

How Skilled Are You At Sailing?

If you are a novice sailor, the probability is high that your boat will bear the brunt of your learning curve. It does not make sense to invest a lot of money into a sailboat that you may run aground or capsize a few times.

If you are not skilled at sailing, it is best to only invest a small amount of money in a little hobby sailboat until you are able to safely pilot a larger boat. 

How Much Does A Good Sailboat Cost?

The cost of a sailboat will vary dramatically depending on the features discussed above.

Even used sailboats can cost very different amounts depending on how they are outfitted. That said, here are a few great sailboats that have stood the test of time along with what you may expect to pay for them.

Tayana

This is a classic sailboat that was produced prolifically throughout the 70s and 80s. There are a few sizes to choose from, but the 27 is a great choice for many cruisers. This is a monohull sailboat with a tough fiberglass hull and charming wood lining. 

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When maintained properly, the interior is striking. It is made of a luxurious teak trim that will surely make you feel like you are living the good life. You can get a used Tayana 27 for around $35,000.

Catalina 

It’s hard to beat the Catalina for a classic monohull sailboat. These sweet little sailboats can be easily trailered, making them an extremely family-friendly option for a backyard sailboat.

If you know what you’re doing, you can handle a Catalina 22 on the open seas, thanks to the sea-friendly design and hand-laid fiberglass hull. 

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These boats look small, but you’ll be surprised by how big the interior feels. Older Catalina 22s that haven’t been exceptionally well cared for can be had for only a few thousand dollars, while more recent models or those that have been very well maintained can cost $10,000 or more.

Hunter

If shallow water sailing is your goal, this shoal draft monohull may be your pick.

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You’ll pay a little more for this larger sailboat that is popular for a live-aboard, but it’s worth it if you were looking for a cruising sailboat for living on. Expect to pay around $50,000 for an older Hunter 356.

Contessa

Here is a sleek, affordable monohull sailboat that can handle well on the ocean and is even frequently used for long-distance racing. You’ll be surprised by how big the cabin feels, as well as the amenities provided.

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For about $20,000, you can get a well built and well-maintained Contessa 26 perfect for cruising around your local waters or for taking across the ocean.

Corsair

The Corsair is one of the most popular as well as versatile trimarans available. This boat has its roots in racing history, like many other trimarans, but it has evolved into a popular family cruiser.

This is a shallow-draft boat that is also perfectly comfortable on the open ocean. 

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You’ll appreciate how much time you save choosing this racing trimaran as your cruiser. Furthermore, they’re constructed of a buoyant material that makes them unsinkable.

Expect the price to vary, but you can find a quality used Corsair 31 for around $70,000.

Contour

If you are serious about living aboard your sailboat and ready to pay the price for comfort, the Contour might be the boat for you.

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You’ll pay about $200,000 to $300,000 for this luxury sailing trimaran if you choose the 50-foot length. 

However, if you are buying a used boat, expect it to be outfitted for live-aboard cruising, when all the amenities like showers, sinks, refrigerator, kitchen, etc.

Coral Dawn Drake

I spent most of my childhood on the family sailboat. On weekends and short holidays, my family sailed the waters around our home in South Florida. Over the summers, we sailed through the Bahamas, exploring the lonely islands of the Abacos. It wasn’t unusual to go weeks without seeing another person, but that was just fine by us. We fished or gathered conch for our dinners and spent the hot afternoons snorkeling over some of the most beautiful reefs in the world. Now I’m a fulltime writer. My parents still have our Maine Cat 30 and I spend as much time on the water as I can.

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