The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

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

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?

More Articles From Online Book: How To Buy a Cruising Boat:

  1. The Right Way to Buy a Boat…And The Wrong Way
  2. Is It a Need or a Want?
  3. Buying a Boat—A Different Way To Think About Price
  4. Buying a Cruising Boat—Five Tips for The Half-Assed Option
  5. Are Refits Worth It?
  6. Buying a Boat—Never Say Never
  7. Selecting The Right Hull Form
  8. Five Ways That Bad Boats Happen
  9. How Weight Affects Boat Performance and Motion Comfort
  10. Easily Driven Boats Are Better
  11. 12 Tips To Avoid Ruining Our Easily Driven Sailboat
  12. Learn From The Designers
  13. You May Need a Bigger Boat Than You Think
  14. Sail Area: Overlap, Multihulls, And Racing Rules
  15. 8 Tips For a Great Cruising Boat Interior Arrangement
  16. Of Cockpits, Wheelhouses And Engine Rooms
  17. Offshore Sailboat Keel Types
  18. Cockpits—Part 1, Safe and Seamanlike
  19. Cockpits—Part 2, Visibility and Ergonomics
  20. Offshore Sailboat Winches, Selection and Positioning
  21. Choosing a Cruising Boat—Shelter
  22. Choosing A Cruising Boat—Shade and Ventilation
  23. Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New Voyaging Boat
  24. Cyclical Loading: Why Offshore Sailing Is So Hard On A Boat
  25. Cycle Loading—8 Tips for Boat and Gear Purchases
  26. Characteristics of Boat Building Materials
  27. Impact Resistance—How Hull Materials Respond to Impacts
  28. Impact Resistance—Two Collision Scenarios
  29. Hull Materials, Which Is Best?
  30. The Five Things We Need to Check When Buying a Boat
  31. Six Warnings About Buying Fibreglass Boats
  32. Buying a Fibreglass Boat—Hiring a Surveyor and Managing the Survey
  33. What We Need to Know About Moisture Meters and Wet Fibreglass Laminate
  34. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 1, How We Shopped For Our First Cruising Sailboat
  35. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 2, The Boat We Bought
  36. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—How It’s Working Out
  37. Q&A, What’s the Maximum Sailboat Size For a Couple?
  38. At What Age should You Stop Sailing And Buy a Motorboat?
  39. A Motorsailer For Offshore Voyaging?
  40. The Two Biggest Lies Yacht Brokers Tell