How To Buy a Cruising Boat Chapter 49 of 50

US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 1, How We Shopped For Our First Cruising Sailboat

There's a "For Sale" sign on the pulpit. Could this be the one? ©Matt Marsh

We've had lots of discussion here at AAC over the last year about whether it's possible to sail away in a seaworthy long-distance cruiser without spending a substantial multiple of the average person's net worth. The conclusion so far? It ain't easy, but it's possible to end up with an ocean cruising boat for something on the order of US$100,000.

Not For Everyone

Even then, there're problems:

  • For many people a boat priced at $100,000, with all the attendant costs of ownership on top, is still well out of reach.
  • So is quitting one's job to work full-time on a boat refit.
  • And what if you find, a year into it, that cruising under sail just isn't for you after all? Will you be stuck with a boat that burns $10,000 a year just to dock, insure, and keep afloat, and which might take a year or more to sell once you list it?

An Attainable Alternative

One promising path: Start smaller, start simpler. Make your inevitable expensive mistakes with short cruises in a relatively affordable boat, learn what works and what doesn't work for you, and then look at your choices for stepping up.

So, what does a starter cruiser look like, for a couple or a family who can't cast off the dock lines just yet? Is it possible to cruise, short term, in a safe and seaworthy (albeit not too luxurious) sailing yacht, for no more than the average family in our position would spend on a new car?

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Meet the Author


Matt, Engineering Correspondent, is a Professional Engineer and true renaissance man, with a wide range of expertise including photography and all things boat design. He has a unique ability to make complex subjects easy to understand and he keeps an eye on the rest of us to make sure that we don’t make any technical mistakes. Working as M. B. Marsh Marine Design, Matt designs innovative powerboats of all shapes and sizes.

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