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.