Buying small sailboats as a beginner

Embark­ing on the jour­ney of sail­ing can be an excit­ing and ful­fill­ing expe­ri­ence. For those just start­ing out in the world of sail­ing, invest­ing in a small sail­boat is a great way to devel­op skills and gain con­fi­dence on the water. Small sail­boats offer maneu­ver­abil­i­ty, sim­plic­i­ty, and ease of han­dling, mak­ing them an ide­al choice for begin­ners.

How to Buy a Small Sailboat as a Beginner

When it comes to buy­ing a small sail­boat as a begin­ner, there are sev­er­al impor­tant fac­tors to con­sid­er. Here are some key steps to guide you through the process:

  1. Deter­mine Your Needs and Goals: Before mak­ing a pur­chase, think about how you plan to use the sail­boat. Are you inter­est­ed in casu­al day sail­ing, week­end trips, or com­pet­i­tive rac­ing? Con­sid­er fac­tors such as the num­ber of crew mem­bers, desired speed, and com­fort lev­el to help you deter­mine the type and size of the sail­boat that suits your needs.
  2. Research Dif­fer­ent Types of Sail­boats: There are var­i­ous types of small sail­boats avail­able, each with its own char­ac­ter­is­tics and suit­abil­i­ty for dif­fer­ent sail­ing con­di­tions. Research dif­fer­ent types, such as dinghies, day­sail­ers, or small keel­boats, and learn about their per­for­mance, sta­bil­i­ty, and ease of han­dling.
  3. Set a Bud­get: Deter­mine your bud­get for pur­chas­ing a small sail­boat, tak­ing into account not only the ini­tial cost but also ongo­ing expens­es such as main­te­nance, stor­age, and equip­ment. Con­sid­er whether you pre­fer to buy a new sail­boat or explore the used boat mar­ket, which can offer more afford­able options.
  4. Seek Expert Advice: Con­sult with expe­ri­enced sailors, boat deal­ers, or sail­ing clubs to get rec­om­men­da­tions and advice on suit­able sail­boat mod­els for begin­ners. They can pro­vide insights into reli­able brands, boat fea­tures, and poten­tial pit­falls to avoid.
  5. Inspect the Sail­boat: When you find a sail­boat that inter­ests you, thor­ough­ly inspect it before mak­ing a pur­chase. Check the over­all con­di­tion of the hull, rig­ging, sails, and oth­er essen­tial com­po­nents. Look for signs of dam­age, rot, or wear and ensure that the boat has been well-main­tained.
  6. Take a Test Sail: When­ev­er pos­si­ble, arrange for a test sail to get a feel for how the sail­boat per­forms on the water. Pay atten­tion to its respon­sive­ness, sta­bil­i­ty, and han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics. This expe­ri­ence will help you assess if the sail­boat meets your expec­ta­tions and is suit­able for your skill lev­el.
  7. Con­sid­er Train­ing and Sup­port: As a begin­ner, it is cru­cial to gain prop­er sail­ing skills and knowl­edge. Look for oppor­tu­ni­ties to take sail­ing lessons or join sail­ing clubs that offer train­ing pro­grams for begin­ners. Access to a sup­port­ive com­mu­ni­ty can be invalu­able as you learn and grow in your sail­ing jour­ney.
  8. Com­plete the Pur­chase: Once you have found the right sail­boat and com­plet­ed all nec­es­sary inspec­tions, paper­work, and nego­ti­a­tions, it’s time to final­ize the pur­chase. Ensure that all legal and finan­cial aspects are in order before trans­fer­ring own­er­ship and tak­ing pos­ses­sion of the sail­boat.

Remem­ber, buy­ing a small sail­boat is an invest­ment in your pas­sion for sail­ing. Take your time, do thor­ough research, and seek guid­ance from expe­ri­enced sailors to ensure you make an informed deci­sion that aligns with your goals and abil­i­ties.

Pur­chas­ing a sail­boat, accord­ing to the experts is more of a process of self-eval­u­a­tion as against just choos­ing a boat ran­dom­ly among those that have been put up for sale. Not only should you con­sid­er the size of the boat also take into account the cost con­sid­er­a­tions. Here’s a check­list of the things you should take into account.

Determining Your Sailing Needs and Goals as a Beginner

Deter­min­ing your sail­ing needs and goals as a begin­ner involves con­sid­er­ing how you plan to use your sail­boat, your com­fort lev­el on the water, and the expe­ri­ence you hope to gain. Think about whether you want to engage in casu­al day sail­ing, week­end get­aways, or even com­pet­i­tive rac­ing. Con­sid­er the num­ber of crew mem­bers you expect to have on board and the desired speed and per­for­mance of the sail­boat. Under­stand­ing your sail­ing needs and goals will help you make informed deci­sions when pur­chas­ing a sail­boat and ensure that it aligns with your aspi­ra­tions as a begin­ner sailor.

Understanding Your Sailing Needs

Before div­ing into the process of buy­ing a small sail­boat, it’s essen­tial to deter­mine your sail­ing needs and goals. Think about how you plan to use the sailboat—whether it’s for casu­al day sail­ing, week­end get­aways, or even com­pet­i­tive rac­ing. Con­sid­er the num­ber of crew mem­bers you expect to have on board, the desired speed and per­for­mance, as well as your com­fort lev­el on the water.

Researching Different Types of Small Sailboats

There is a wide vari­ety of small sail­boats avail­able, each with its own char­ac­ter­is­tics and suit­abil­i­ty for dif­fer­ent sail­ing con­di­tions. Con­duct thor­ough research on the dif­fer­ent types of sail­boats, such as dinghies, day­sail­ers, or small keel­boats, to under­stand their per­for­mance, sta­bil­i­ty, ease of han­dling, and suit­abil­i­ty for begin­ners.

Setting a Realistic Budget

Set­ting a bud­get is an impor­tant step in the boat-buy­ing process. Con­sid­er not only the ini­tial cost of the sail­boat but also the ongo­ing expens­es, includ­ing main­te­nance, stor­age, insur­ance, and equip­ment. Be real­is­tic about your bud­get and take into account any addi­tion­al costs asso­ci­at­ed with own­ing a sail­boat.

Seeking Expert Advice

Don’t hes­i­tate to seek advice from expe­ri­enced sailors, boat deal­ers, or sail­ing clubs. They can pro­vide valu­able insights and rec­om­men­da­tions based on their own expe­ri­ences. Engage with sail­ing com­mu­ni­ties, attend boat shows, and join sail­ing forums to con­nect with experts who can guide you in find­ing the right sail­boat for your needs.

Exploring the Small Sailboat Market

Explor­ing the small sail­boat mar­ket as a begin­ner involves research­ing dif­fer­ent types of sail­boats, con­sid­er­ing whether to buy new or used, inspect­ing the boat’s con­di­tion, and eval­u­at­ing its poten­tial resale val­ue. It is impor­tant to gath­er infor­ma­tion, seek advice from experts, and make informed deci­sions based on your bud­get, sail­ing needs, and long-term goals. By thor­ough­ly explor­ing the mar­ket, you can find a sail­boat that suits your skill lev­el, pref­er­ences, and bud­get, set­ting you up for an enjoy­able sail­ing expe­ri­ence.

New vs. Used Sailboats

Decid­ing whether to buy a new or used sail­boat is an impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion. New sail­boats offer the advan­tage of mod­ern fea­tures, war­ranties, and the abil­i­ty to cus­tomize your boat. How­ev­er, they tend to come at a high­er price point. On the oth­er hand, used sail­boats offer more afford­able options, but you need to care­ful­ly inspect their con­di­tion, main­te­nance his­to­ry, and poten­tial repair needs.

Inspecting the Sailboat’s Condition

Whether you’re look­ing at a new or used sail­boat, it’s cru­cial to inspect its con­di­tion thor­ough­ly. Exam­ine the hull, deck, rig­ging, sails, and oth­er com­po­nents. Look for any signs of dam­age, wear, or struc­tur­al issues. If you’re buy­ing a used sail­boat, con­sid­er hir­ing a pro­fes­sion­al sur­vey­or to con­duct a com­pre­hen­sive inspec­tion to ensure that the boat is in good work­ing order.

Considering Resale Value

While you may be focused on buy­ing your first sail­boat, it’s also impor­tant to con­sid­er its poten­tial resale val­ue. Fac­tors such as the brand, age, con­di­tion, and pop­u­lar­i­ty of the sail­boat can influ­ence its future val­ue. Although resale val­ue may not be an imme­di­ate con­cern, it’s worth keep­ing in mind to make a more informed deci­sion.

Negotiating and Finalizing the Purchase

Once you have found a sail­boat that meets your require­ments, nego­ti­ate the price with the sell­er. Be pre­pared to walk away if the nego­ti­a­tions are not sat­is­fac­to­ry or if the sail­boat does not meet your expec­ta­tions. Ensure that all legal and finan­cial aspects of the pur­chase are in order before final­iz­ing the deal and trans­fer­ring own­er­ship.

Sailing Skills and Education

Sail­ing skills and edu­ca­tion are essen­tial for any­one inter­est­ed in sail­ing. By acquir­ing prop­er train­ing and knowl­edge, you can enhance your safe­ty on the water and improve your over­all sail­ing expe­ri­ence. It is rec­om­mend­ed to enroll in sail­ing cours­es or lessons tai­lored for begin­ners, join sail­ing com­mu­ni­ties, and gain prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence through sail­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. Con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion and skill devel­op­ment will help you grow as a sailor and open doors to new sail­ing adven­tures.

Importance of Sailing Education

As a begin­ner, acquir­ing prop­er sail­ing skills and knowl­edge is essen­tial. Con­sid­er enrolling in sail­ing cours­es or lessons tai­lored for begin­ners. Sail­ing schools and clubs offer com­pre­hen­sive pro­grams that cov­er the basics of sail­ing, safe­ty pro­ce­dures, nav­i­ga­tion, and boat han­dling. These cours­es pro­vide a sol­id foun­da­tion for your sail­ing jour­ney and build con­fi­dence on the water.

Joining Sailing Communities

Engag­ing with sail­ing com­mu­ni­ties is a great way to enhance your learn­ing expe­ri­ence and con­nect with fel­low sailors. Join local sail­ing clubs, attend regat­tas, and par­tic­i­pate in group events. Sail­ing com­mu­ni­ties pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for men­tor­ship, cama­raderie, and shared expe­ri­ences that can enrich your sail­ing jour­ney.

Building Practical Experience

While edu­ca­tion is vital, noth­ing can replace prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence on the water. Take every oppor­tu­ni­ty to sail and prac­tice your skills. Con­sid­er crew­ing on oth­er peo­ple’s boats or join­ing sail­ing races to gain hands-on expe­ri­ence and learn from expe­ri­enced sailors. Build­ing your prac­ti­cal skills will enhance your con­fi­dence and pro­fi­cien­cy as a sailor.

Continuing Education and Skill Development

Sail­ing is a life­long learn­ing jour­ney. Even as you gain expe­ri­ence, con­tin­ue to seek oppor­tu­ni­ties for fur­ther edu­ca­tion and skill devel­op­ment. Attend advanced sail­ing cours­es, explore spe­cial­ized areas such as off­shore sail­ing or nav­i­ga­tion, and stay up to date with advance­ments in sail­ing tech­nol­o­gy and tech­niques. Con­tin­u­ous learn­ing will help you grow as a sailor and open doors to new sail­ing adven­tures.

Which is the perfect sailboat for you?

In case you wish to cruise, take into account the num­ber of crew mem­bers that will be onboard.

A used sailboat or a new one?

  • While choos­ing to buy a sail­boat, you require deter­min­ing the trade-off between your con­ve­nience in buy­ing a high cost new boat against shop­ping around for a less cost­ly used boat which match­es with your needs
  • Think whether or not you have enough time for main­tain­ing and upgrad­ing a sec­ond-hand sail­boat
  • Deter­mine whether or not you would love to engage your­self in DIY projects that could save you more amount of mon­ey.

Considerations on cost of the sailboat

In the slug­gish econ­o­my, there are sev­er­al sail­boats put up for sale at dis­count­ed prices:

  • The own­ers of the boat invest way more in enhanc­ing their boats rather than what they can regain through a sale. Hence a buy­er of a used boat will receive lot of gear for an amount which is way less than buy­ing a new sail­boat.
  • Don’t hur­ry while choos­ing a sec­ond-hand boat. Buy­ing a boat which needs too many upgrades might cost you big on your wal­let. Some­times the cost may be way more than buy­ing a new boat. Hence, be slow and care­ful while get­ting a used boat.
  • Plan for DIY improve­ments in a used boat
  • Take into account the boat­yard labor costs or upgrades and repairs as they’re grad­u­al­ly becom­ing too cost­ly.
  • Shop around for the gear that you need.
  • Think whether or not you have ener­gy and time to incul­cate the required skills which you need to do it your­self.
  • Don’t for­get oth­er relat­ed costs which you will incur post pur­chase
  • One of the note­wor­thy expens­es that you may have to incur while buy­ing a larg­er boat is insur­ance. You may get esti­mates in advance.
  • Where are you plan­ning to keep your boat? Unless and until you plan to launch from a trail­er when­ev­er you sail your boat, you will have to pay costs for moor­ing, dock­ing, win­ter stor­age and boat yard haulouts. Know about the costs before you pur­chase.
  • If you plan to take out boat loans, they will have con­sid­er­ably high­er rates than mort­gages. Instead, you can take out a home equi­ty loan.

There­fore, now that you’re aware of how you should pur­chase a sail­boat and the things that you should con­sid­er before buy­ing, what are you wait­ing for? Enter the mar­ket and choose the best sail­boat.


Which small sailboats are the best?

Every­one doesn’t need a 30-foot sail­boat that is equipped with a gal­ley and bunks while cruis­ing. All that is need­ed is a hull, rud­der, mast and sail. There’s noth­ing that is bet­ter than the thrill of a small sail­boat that slips through the lake or the open ocean. Mar­ble­head 22 Day­sail­er, Catali­na 22 Sport, Hunter 22, West Wight Pot­ter P19 and Mont­gomery 17 are few of the names of the best small sail­boats.

Are small sailboats suitable for beginners?

Small sail­boats are suit­able for around 1–4 peo­ple, though the ide­al num­ber of peo­ple to hold are 1–2. These sail­boats are lit­tle larg­er than dinghy and they are often fit­ted with winch­es, cleats in order to make them suit­able and easy to oper­ate for the begin­ners. Being a begin­ner, take into account all fac­tors before buy­ing a sail­boat.

What are the prices for small sailboats?

A small sail­boat of length 15–20ft can cost an aver­age of $24,000, a 20–25ft sail­boat can cost you around $58,000, a 25–30ft sail­boat can cost you around $80,000 and a sail­boat with a length of 30–35ft can cost you around $160,000. You have to deter­mine your afford­abil­i­ty, use and pur­pose before buy­ing a small sail­boat. If you are not an expe­ri­enced user, it is bet­ter not to invest in the prici­er sail­boats ini­tial­ly. You may start off with the low­er-priced ones and lat­er on invest in the cost­lier ones.


Buy­ing a small sail­boat as a begin­ner is an excit­ing step towards embrac­ing the world of sail­ing. By deter­min­ing your needs and goals, con­duct­ing thor­ough research, seek­ing expert advice, and care­ful­ly nav­i­gat­ing the boat-buy­ing process, you can find a sail­boat that suits your skill lev­el and pro­vides end­less oppor­tu­ni­ties for adven­ture on the water. Remem­ber to pri­or­i­tize your safe­ty, invest in edu­ca­tion, and con­tin­u­ous­ly improve your sail­ing skills as you embark on this exhil­a­rat­ing jour­ney.