The Cost of Sailing

Without even thinking about it, I would say the number one topic about RedSky has been money. Starting before the search for RedSky even began, all the way until the time of me writing this post, money and cost has been a large topic of conversations for us, and almost anyone we talk to. Most revolve around the same “How can you afford that” or “It must be nice to be able to do that”. So I wanted to take a second and break down the research we did, the costs we found, and the budget we use. I have watched countless videos and spoke with many sailors, and found that every situation is different, and every plan has unseen variables that are dealt with differently.

The first thing we considered before even putting a budget together was our situation, and our end goal. We watched countless videos and followed many sailors on social media to learn as much as we could. Most were couples that were moving to the boat life, and lived solely on their sailboats. Some were just weekend sailors. There were even ones that were from all over the world. But one thing was common between them all, no two stories were the same. As for us, we are a young couple with a lot of kids, careers that didn’t allow us to work remotely, and no knowledge of the sailing life. We quickly set our goal as being able to sail for a weekend or up to a week, not planning on leaving the great lakes, and something that allowed us to be flexible.

So the very basics of the plan was set, next was finding the different costs beyond just finding a sailboat. I quickly learned that the cheapest part of being a boat owner was buying the boat. Our local harbor had a 3 year waiting list for a seasonal slip, and came out to just under $3000 a year. I searched the area and found that the range of a seasonal slip was between $800 and $4000 in the area, and they had many different amenities. I ensured to take in to consideration the fact that we would be limited on our time to sail due to the kids, and the weather. So we wanted something close and something that was ready all the time. Obviously not being able to get a season slip, we found that our local harbor would allow us to stay at the transient slips, and for a 25 Foot craft, it would come to about $190 a week. This appeared as our best bet for planning our budget.

Next was winter storage. This was a huge variable, as there were parts of this that could change depending on what was purchased. For example we spoke with a couple that bought a 25 foot that had a swing keel and a mast that they could step themselves. They didn’t pay any winter storage as they covered it and kept it at their house. They also did not have to pay any dock fees as they could put it in and pull it out of the water themselves. However they noted that it didn’t seem as stable in the open water as other 25 Foot boats they had been in, and to go out for a weekend required them to plan and watch the weather very close.

Next was setting the price we were willing to pay for a boat. This was our most limiting factor. After researching I set a few qualifications to meet before I would consider a boat. The first was sails and motor. Through my research I found that these were a significant cost if they needed replacing, or weren’t a part of the sale. I set my price limit at $1000 without one of those coming with it, but didn’t want to go over $2500 total. I knew in my research that this would get us something to learn on, and have enough cabin room to basically be like a tent on the water. I put my plan on anything from a 22 to 27 foot and started searching.

You can follow our search and purchase of RedSky, and it only took a few months to find her, and about an hour of talking it over to determine that was what we wanted. We got her at a steal for $1500 with working Sails that would need to be replaced in the next few seasons, and an almost brand new 15HP 4 stroke Yamaha outboard. From everything we could see it was in great condition. However it did not come with a trailer, and the keel was solid, and we would most likely not be able to move it ourselves. However after going over the options and what we were looking for, we decided on it for being perfect for us.

As I mentioned the most expensive part of owning RedSky has been after the purchase. When we bought her, she was in storage, but the fee for having RedSky put in the water, and the mast stepped was covered. Once in the water, we started paying the weekly fees for her being in the water. This came out to about $2000 for June to October. After that we found a great Marina that would pull her out, step the mast, and move it to inside storage for the winter for about $1300. This cost included putting it back in the water in the spring.

As time moves on, this will be adjusted. Again, there are a million variables to put into action when it comes to our sailboat life, and they are changing by the year. Let us know about your budgeting techniques and the costs you have found with your boat ownership.

Learning to Sail

How We Learned To Sail

Part of what made our sailing dream a true adventure is learning to sail. Now when I say we are learning to sail, I don’t mean we took classes or are being taught, I mean we found such a good deal on a boat that fit our needs so perfectly that we didn’t have the time to actually learn. Instead, we purchased RedSky, with never having even stepped foot on a sail boat in our lives. Almost every person we talked to after buying RedSky even asked “Have you ever sailed before” and I had to consistently reply “No, Not even on a sunfish”.

This doesn’t mean we were ignorant to the processes of sailing and the theories and concepts. We had spent countless hours studying not only the actual act of sailing, but what boat life entailed. The costs, the lifestyle, the extra needs and time it took. We studied the difference between sailing on the inland lakes of Michigan, the Great lakes, and even the ocean. I wanted to share some of the things we learned along the way.

The first and probably most important thing to look at is the cost. This is probably the number one question any boater get’s and it’s with good reason. Boat ownership is costly, even well after the actual purchase. It’s no secret, we got a deal on RedSky that was and is still unbelievable, but that was the smallest cost of the ownership. There is everything from the small costs like fuel, and getting personal items for sailing. But there are also the large costs like the docking fee’s, winter storage, moving, and sails. I could (and will) write a whole blog on just the cost of ownership, but I will save that.

The next step to learning was something that came as a pleasant surprise. We learned that the boating community, like most other hobbies, has a large following and everyone is willing to help however they can. The first few days in the marina we had multiple boaters coming up and offering advice, and willing to answer any question we had. We even had one that came and helped us put on our sails, and taught us how to raise them. He also gave us the best advice we will ever get as boaters, “Every sailor has advice, some is good and some isn’t…. but listen to it all and find out what works best for you”.

The next thing we learned is more personal to us, and I say it with a caveat.We learned what we want in a sailboat that RedSky doesn’t have. Now I don’t want that to sound like I don’t like RedSky, on the contrary I love her, and think it was the BEST first boat to have. We have learned alot, and the things we want moving forward are more creature comforts. For example, our next boat will have a rolling furling for a jib, however I love that we have to go connect our Jib halyard, raise and lower the jib EVERY time we want to use it. The comforts we don’t have forces us to learn the skills we need.

One of the last things we learned was a two part lesson. First part was, sailing isn’t a hobby, it is a lifestyle. And part two was, it is the lifestyle we were born to live. Obviously having kids, and limited funds have put us in a place where we can’t just live on a boat. However, this is almost better, we have the time to really decide what we want, and how we want it. But we do know without question….. one day, we WILL live on our boat.

There are so many more lessons we have learned, and each lesson is a story all in itself. I am excited to continue to share, hopefully as much as you are excited to read.

First Trip

Sailing RedSky to Petoskey


It was Saturday morning – Aug 24, 2019

We planned the weekend as much as we could, and waited in anticipation. We were ready. After weeks of living in the Mackinaw City Marina, we were ready to make our first journey to the Little Traverse Bay. We planned for 50 Nautical Miles. I filled the gas tank and took an extra 10 gallons of gas. Jenn took pride in planning and packing snacks and meals for the night in Mackinaw, and the day on the water. We tentatively planned for 12 hours since we were still learning how to navigate with sails, and other than going a few miles, had not been on motor for more than about 20 or so minutes at a time. After our late night trip to get some last minute supplies, we watched some fireworks with a glass of wine, and went to bed dreaming of our trip ahead of us.

We woke up to a cooler than normal morning. The dew covered boat was sitting as still as could be on the glass lake. We made jokes as were walked from the boat to the Marina office one last time, that there was not a bit of wind. I even made a video of the flags, in disbelief of how still they were. However, the plan continued, and we left Mackinaw just before 8AM.

As we motored away from the Marina, and under the mighty Mac, we continued to note how calm the lake was. The wind was not moving at all, and the water was like glass. Most inland lakes I had not seen this calm. The pictures could not even capture how smooth the lake was. For the first 3 hours, we motored along waiting for the chance to put up the sails. That chance continued not to come. We took our turns at the tiller, the Captain and the Skipper. Making sure to each have some time at the bow, where the engine noise was silent and the glassy water splashing on the hull was the only sound. I made coffee, as Jenn tested her knowledge of using the compass to keep a steady course.

The day continued, and we continued to motor. Here is where we learned one of the most valuable lessons of sailing… the weather can and will dictate your day and trip. We ended up running on motor for seven straight hours. Twice we tried to raise the sails thinking we felt some wind, only to sit on a calm lake, with limp sails. We pushed on, just enjoying our time on the open water.

At about 3PM, we finally started into Little Traverse bay. We could see Petoskey, and at this time noticed the winds started. They were about seven knot winds, and coming from the East, which was not normal, but finally provided us a chance to put up our sails. We put them up and for the first time all day were able to shut of the motor and enjoy the power of the wind.

This ride was short lived, as about half way across the bay, the weather completely changed its attitude, and the winds and waves started to intensify to what a seasoned sailor would not bat an eye at, but brought a new level of stress on us. Jenn pointed us towards the Petoskey harbor as I scrambled on the deck to pull down the sails. We rocked at every wave, and I fought to check every line I pulled, still learning what order to do everything.

We spend about 20 Minutes fighting the waves to pull around the pier, and had luckily taken a moment to call in requesting a deck hand be ready to assist us. We found our slip, being the first on as we entered the marina; it was full of waves, and current. The docking was an adventure, with us still trying to learn to use a tiller at slow speeds.

We had made it. Our little 25 Ft piece of heaven on the big lake. It was a small trip to some, but in our eyes, it was amazing, nerve wrecking, challenging, and a trip that began our journey. It taught us how to navigate, work together, and some of the limitations of our boat along with what it can truly handle. This set the hook of desire deeper into us, as we knew this was adventure that we would always want in our lives.

Next – Learning To Sail