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Old 06-14-2017, 04:20 PM   #21
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FWIW, I own two boats, a Catalina 400 MkII that I'm trying to sell and my North Pacific 43. So far, the power boat is a LOT more expensive to own. This is with roughly equal amount and types of use. As Eric pointed out, even with similar lengths, there is a LOT more boat with a power boat. My Catalina 400 has been a relatively inexpensive boat to own, but it is a relatively simple boat. No inverter, no thrusters, manual raw water heads, etc... The biggest differences come with the basic maintenance. I could buy a raw water impeller for my sailboat for about $30-40. MUCH more expensive for my Cummins 5.9. Lot more expense with the larger engine.
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Old 06-14-2017, 05:00 PM   #22
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Do you know how the sail boat was equipped? I suspect that may account for a big chunk of the difference between the sail boat and equivalent passage maker. Does the sail boat have heat and air conditioning? A big watermaker so you can have more than a tea cup a day, and a shower per week? A fully equipped galley with dishwasher and trash compactor? laundry? Stabilizers? A full size marine generator and not something bought at home depot?

Although I'm poking at having a less comfortable passage maker, that's not really my point. My point is that if you reduced down the equipment on a 50' power passage maker to match the 50' sail boat's equipment, would the purchase price be a lot more the same? I think it would be a lot less. Maybe not the same, but a lot less.
You are probably right. They had a built in generator, but no laundry, or large house bank, or inverter. They did have a watermaker, but I dont remember what size.

These folks were not the minimalist sailboat types, nor frugal, but there is only so much room.

I was not fond of the living area inside. Every sailboat I see make port, first thing they do is empty the boat out and let everything dry out.
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Old 06-14-2017, 05:12 PM   #23
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A bit like people who want a nice big RV, all the mod cons of home, just happens to be on wheels.

As opposed to those who value fuel efficiency, tiny-house minimalist values, choose to convert a minivan or make do with a little teardrop trailer.

The former camp is more likely to opt for a stinkpot, the latter to be sailors.

But when the opposite, the budgets get closer.

I do think apples to apples in minimalist mode, the fuel cost when long-distance cruising becomes a decisive factor.
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Old 06-14-2017, 05:12 PM   #24
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True that sailboats tend to empty to let everything dry out...

For my past experiences, and I owned 4 sailboats before my first powerboat, yes, they got a lot of wet abuse inside, but from weather that I wouldn't dream of taking my trawler into.

So if some one is going to venture past coastal cruising, sail has its advantages in seaworthyness, but limited interior comfort.
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Old 06-14-2017, 05:54 PM   #25
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I think that if you compare sail boats to "Coastal Cruisers" then the costs are closer to each other.

If you compare a 50' sail boat to a 50' passagemaker type boat then the sail boat is cheaper to buy.

One of my neighbors in Seward offered his extremely well equipped and maintained fairly late model 50' sail boat for sale last year. If memory serves correctly he was asking in the low 300's

You can buy allot of really nice fairly late model 50' coastal cruisers for te same money.

Not so much if you are looking for a 50' passagemaker.

But....

His sail boat has probably half the interior room as our coastal cruiser.
As a sailboater I would divide sailboats the same way - coastal cruisers and passagemaker - and the price range varies accordingly as it does with power boats. There is a huge range.

Really hard to do appropriate comparisons. A new set of sails can cost more than a new diesel. Some people will never make that purchase, others are regulars at the sailmaker's shop.
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Old 06-14-2017, 06:22 PM   #26
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..... And in the total cost of ownership, I think fuel is a relatively small..... %
I think this is the key to finding each person's answer to the question, and the answer is not universal. Its going to be different for each person because everyone has a different idea of what boating is. For the people who never leave the marina, obviously the reduction in fuel costs offered from sailing doesn't help much. For the minimalist who just wants shelter from the environment and covers tens of thousands of miles....sail is going to be cheaper.

One factor I don't think has been brought up is seaworthyness. I think if your goal is to by the smallest boat that has a certain amount of capability, you can get by with a smaller sailboat than you can a powerboat. So if you want to be able to go to the Carribean anytime you want without waiting for a weather window, you might need a 50 foot powerboat, but maybe only a 40 foot sailboat. ( lengths chosen arbitrarily to make a point...) That could change the balance of cost for some people.
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:20 PM   #27
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We recently up with a couple who had a ~50' catamaran, 29' wide. They had done a circumnavigation in it over the course of 5 years. It was a very large boat with a lot of living space on it, 3 state rooms and a large galley. He said that the running rigging and sails were coming up for replacement and it would not be cheap. Also moorage was very expensive.
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:39 PM   #28
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As a sailboater I would divide sailboats the same way - coastal cruisers and passagemaker - and the price range varies accordingly as it does with power boats. There is a huge range.


I agree with you but... I have a 40' Catalina sailboat that is a coastal cruiser. I also have a 43' power boat that is a coastal cruiser.

However, with just a little bit of prep work, I would be OK with taking my sailboat offshore (in other words beyond range of weather forecasting) but would never do that with my 43' power boat.

My sailboat isn't an ideal bluewater boat, but workable. My power boat, while wonderful, is simply not adequate for that.
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Old 06-14-2017, 08:22 PM   #29
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If you want the two boats to be comparable in terms of accommodations then the sailboat will be significantly longer and more expensive to buy than the trawler. If you are talking about a 50' trawler/passagemaker the comparable sailboat will be in the 75' range. Both the 50' passagemaker and the 75' sailboat will be capable of crossing oceans, but the sailboat will be able to handle much worse weather. The build quality of the sailboat will also likely be higher. Note that I am not talking production boats here. I have been on larger sailboats (50'-76') with amenities far beyond those found on most 50' trawlers. Of course those boats had price tags in the millions.

For my 36' sailboat the standing rigging costs about $3,000 to replace. A complete set of new sails is about $4,000 for cruising quality - race quality is MUCH more and wears out much more quickly. Cruising sails generally last around 10 years, but they can be pushed considerably longer with judicious repairs. A new diesel would set me back about $10,000-$12,000 depending on if I could reuse the shaft and prop. in terms of accommodations my boat is comparable to something like a Grand Banks 32. It is much more seaworthy than any 36' trawler.

As far as buying a used sailboat goes, yes you can find one pretty cheap. My 45 year old 36' boat is worth about $40K. You can find lots of 40 year old 35' trawlers for that money or less. However, there is a huge range of quality in sailboats, just like there is with powerboats. That range of quality is reflected in the price.

So I would say that the original question is very difficult to answer since it can be quite difficult to define comparable boats. Comparable in what respect? Sea keeping ability? Accommodations and amenities? Cost? Size? You really can't have have power and sail that are comparable in all those categories.
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Old 06-14-2017, 08:37 PM   #30
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Long distance such as trans-oceanic cruises are most likely cheaper under sail than under power. For any given boat length, the motor boat will have more volume/tonnage than a sailboat, so comparison foot-for-foot is irrational. Used sailboats are quite cheap compared to motor boats.

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Old 06-14-2017, 09:17 PM   #31
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Good points. I'd summarize by saying that if you want to go minimalist, boating is much cheaper. And it's easier to go more minimalist with a sail boat. But in this case I think the savings come from being minimalist more than anything. I've seen plenty of power boats that are clearly operated on a shoe string, and there is nothing wrong with that. I'm not trying to suggest a boa needs to be outfitting any particular way. I'm just looking for an objective attribution of the savings.
good points, yes. I don't fault anybody's style of boating, in fact i was kind of jealous of those boats and how often the one went out!

Something else, since we are trying to figure out whats cheaper. . .can we define cheaper? The costs mentioned in this thread tend to be just various levels of expensive
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Old 06-14-2017, 09:30 PM   #32
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I see this as such a loaded question. Are we talking two boats with an equivalent level of equipment and comfort? Are we talking two boats with equivalent seaworthiness? Or the average sail boat vs the average trawler.

I would say this, that the average sailboat owner spends less maintaining their boat than the average trawler owner. However, the average sailboat isn't equipped anything like the average trawler.

If you want equivalent living comforts then the sailboat is going to grow in size and require far more equipment than the average powerboat. At some point you're paying to maintain everything on the sailboat that you do on the powerboat plus the sails and eventually taking this to completion the sailboat can become more expensive. However, most sailboat owners don't do that. You see it on the major sail yachts though. Still a 45' sailboat doesn't come close to the comfort and space of a 45' trawler and 95% of the time has far less equipment.

Now if you're talking seaworthiness, there is a contention that sailboats are more seaworthy than power boats. I think that's true to a point only. If you're talking about crossing the Atlantic, you're going to see more 45' sailboats doing it than 45' powerboats. So, the argument might be to match the 45' sailboat in seaworthiness you need an 80' powerboat. I think seaworthiness of sail over power is rather exaggerated. Is Richard's 42' KK less seaworthy than the average 42'sailboat? I sure see a lot of sailboats have issues offshore. Wind can be very much a problem for them. Sails can get ripped. While perhaps many trawlers are not designed for passagemaking, others are quite capable but lack the range.

Ultimately generalizations in answering the OP's question are only partially true. The only real answers are if you select a sailboat and a powerboat and then ask is Sailboat A less expensive to operate than Powerboat B.
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:24 PM   #33
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Let's face it. Modern fiberglass boats sail or power will be able to float around almost forever regardless of the condition of their sails or engines. I know people with both kinds that use their boats as weekend condos rather than sail or power around. I asked one friend who lives aboard when was the last time he fired his motors, he couldn't remember, it had been years. I've had both sail and power, they cost as much as you want or allow them to. It's up to you.
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:35 PM   #34
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I didn't mean it to be a loaded question. My thesis is that there is nothing inherently less expensive about a boat because its a sail boat vs a power boat. And that what DOES impact cost is the amount of equipment, level of fit and finish, space, strength of construction, quality of components, etc. Power and sail boats alike, one can dial up or dial down the cost just the same. More stuff and better stuff drives the cost up. It does seem that sail boats tend to be less equipped compared to power boats, and that might feed the simplification that "sail is cheaper".
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:58 PM   #35
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If you compare two comparably sized and equipped boats, one sail and one a trawler,mis one really less expensive to buy? And to operate?
The key question as stated by TT is not too complicated. Like many on TF, I've seen both sides. As posted by Rickized, Dashew has a great compare of large sailing vessels with sails and rigging kept to a high standard vs a blue water similar sized power vessel.

Let's compare for a moment a 60 foot Hinkley or Beneteau to a 60' Nordhavn. If the sail boats are maintained in blue water ready condition with a full complement set of sails, it is likely more expensive to buy and maintain than the Nordhavn.

If the question is what is the cheapest way to travel by water from Port Angeles to Ketchikan, I saw the answer two days ago - two guys on paddle boards who by then were already in Sidney. Amazing story but not the question posed by TT.
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Old 06-15-2017, 01:59 AM   #36
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FWIW, I own two boats, a Catalina 400 MkII that I'm trying to sell and my North Pacific 43. So far, the power boat is a LOT more expensive to own. This is with roughly equal amount and types of use. As Eric pointed out, even with similar lengths, there is a LOT more boat with a power boat. My Catalina 400 has been a relatively inexpensive boat to own, but it is a relatively simple boat. No inverter, no thrusters, manual raw water heads, etc... The biggest differences come with the basic maintenance. I could buy a raw water impeller for my sailboat for about $30-40. MUCH more expensive for my Cummins 5.9. Lot more expense with the larger engine.
Apples and oranges.
One is half the boat than the other, is it any wonder one is more expensive to maintain?
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Old 06-15-2017, 02:11 AM   #37
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I have a sailing background as well.

If we were looking for the sailing version of what we have it would have to be big to carry the weight of household appliances and batteries/inverters to run them.
It would need massive internal volume for the dedicated laundry and king size bed.
The hull area would be similar in size and cost to maintain.
It would need a larger genset or at least run the genset often as it would not be able carry the solar we do due to sail shading issues.
Controlling sails and rig of that size would need hydraulic or electric winches adding to cost.
They would use more power requiring bigger battery banks therefore weight, unless going lithium at more expense again.
It would still have a hefty size diesel engine and reality would be, it would get used a lot as sails on a boat this size are hard.
Mooring fees would be similar.
Insurance would be more due to cost of vessel.

I can guarantee you that the sailing boat would cost 5x what we paid for what we have.
For us its no contest.
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Old 06-15-2017, 05:35 AM   #38
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"Do sails wear out from sitting in the hold or use and abuse?"

Sunshine eats at fabric , chafe rubs the stitching and fabric and flogging breaks down the material.

The big question is what is mere volume "worth".

Inshore the volume in a motor cruiser can be filled with goodies like dishwashers , washing machines , trash compactors, ice makers etc.

And a service tech is just a phone call away.

Sailboats excel in passage making , where inshore boats can not go.

Which is "better" really depends on your cruising goals and wallet.
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Old 06-15-2017, 05:38 AM   #39
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When I was shopping for a boat, I had a limited budget to find a boat that was capable of handling blue water conditions of the Southern Ocean. This requirement was non-negotiable. Originally, I didn't want a sail boat as I find them too claustrophobic.

In the end/, I found that any power boat capable of handling the conditions would cost double what a sailboat would. The boat would require some type of roll stabilzation, and the only type of stabilization that comes cheap are sails.

Operating and maintenance costs costs are probably similar, but it depends more on boat condition, engine size, and cruise speed than sail or power.
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Old 06-15-2017, 05:48 AM   #40
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Are trawlers more expensive to own/operate than passagemaking sailboats? This question has interested me over the last ten years and I have asked a good number of sailboaters I have met in the eastern Caribbean about their expenses. A couple of things were obvious from the start and continue today. Few sailboats were comparably equipped to our Kadey Krogen 42. Refrigeration, electricity generation and clothes washing are among the chief differences. I have run across sailboats with the same main motor we have (Lehman 135) and the same generator (Westerbeke 8kw) but these boats were all 10 feet or more longer than our Krogen. The monohulls don't have the same space we have until they are much much longer than our 42 feet. The cats start seeming similar at around 48 feet with a wide cat with two engines.

What have I found in terms of costs? The trawlers fuel over a decent period of time (5 years plus) is offset by the cost of replacing sails, canvas, rigging and eisenglass. Fuel use is not exclusive to trawlers as the sailboaters admit to doing a lot of motoring and also use fuel for electricity generation. Many of the sailboats I have asked about have higher engine hours than we do because they use the main to charge the batteries. Whereas I in my trawler fill up not more than once at year at a spot selected for low prices. I have repeatedly seen sailboats fill up their smaller tanks in places like the French islands were the diesel is at European prices.

Marina and storage charges. The greater size of the comparable sailboats whether mono or cat cost more in a slip or even more importantly in storage.

Conclusion. I have seen no justification to say that sailboats of a comparable interior size and similarly equipped are cheaper to own and operate over a multiyear period than a single engine full displacement trawler. Individual boats will vary but the same is true within sailboats as a class and trawlers as a class.
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