So, we bought our Hanse 388, and there is one thing almost everyone seem to agree on: it is quite expensive to own a sailboat.

I keep telling people that myself also, that after buying a sailboat it doesn’t matter how much money you have, it will all sink into that sailing money pit.

But maybe things aren’t that bleak? Or at least shouldn’t be? As a part of our small project I’ve tried to figure out some cool (ok, maybe a bit far fetched and ludicrous) ways to reduce the costs of it all.

So What Are the Costs?

The costs will vary from place to place and boat to boat, but here are some thoughts based on my own boat owning history.

Buy Expensively, Sell Cheap

For me, the by far most expensive cost has been the difference between the price I’ve bought my boats and the price I eventually sold them. In simpler words: I’ve been too impulsive and impatient both when buying and selling.

The sailboat market isn’t that easy either as sailboats are quite price sensitive to the overall economy. During a recession (or if there is any hint of one arriving) almost nobody wants to buy a boat. Also, if the market is a small one (like here in Finland), the buyers are even fewer and farther between.

Replace Degrading Stuff

There’s always some wear and tear on a boat, so to maintain its condition, stuff need to be regularly replaced.

Here are some that come to mind (I’m sure there are more):

  1. The engine is one of the most expensive components to replace. My last boat had a twenty year old engine that needed a replacement immediately after I bought the boat. It was all done in good cooperation with the previous owner, though.
  2. Sails don’t last forever. It depends a lot on the sail and how much (and how carefully) it’s used, but generally a new sail will work a lot better than one that is much used and a few years old.
  3. The running rigging (the ropes!) needs to be replaced from time to time since ropes wear, chafe, break, and if not any of those, then they become ugly from too much time in the sun and the water.
  4. The standing rigging (all the wires and other stuff keeping the mast from falling down) might last for 10-15 years, after which at least parts of it needs to be replaced.
  5. The deck and hull of the boat inevitably gets dinged and scratched as time goes by, and if you want it to look as good as new all the time, there might be a lot of small gelcoat work required. The first big hit is when the bottom needs a repaint. The second and even bigger hit is when hull color is getting ugly and the freeboard needs a repaint.
  6. The interior (floor, furniture) gets dinged and scratched as well and replacing that might be more of a challenge than replacing an engine. (Honestly, I have no experience in doing that, so I really don’t know.)

Upgrade Everything Every Time

It’s really common for people to make a lot of upgrades to their boat. This is especially true for all things electronic since there’s always the newer and cooler three dimensional sonar and four dimensional chartplotter that certainly will make life much easier and more livable.

Then the boat is sold to her next owner, who maybe isn’t completely satisfied with the previous owner’s upgrades, so he/she removes some but adds lots more.

A few owners down the road it isn’t terribly unusual to see a boat with a myriad of upgrades, for example navigation electronics from three different vendors (sometimes also from three different decades), and everything beautifully undocumented. (“Hmm, what is this black wire here?” “Wait, what is drawing this much electricity when everything is turned off?!”)

It’s expensive, for one thing, and I also think it might be a bit detrimental to the value of the boat.

X-Yachts IMX 388 with a lot of upgrades.
From behind the wheel of my previous boat, an X-Yachts IMX-38. There’s a Raymarine radar, Navman chartplotter and below the companionway: two generations of Raymarine instruments and one B&G. The contraption on the backside of the wheel, where the screens are attached, that’s an upgrade too.

Having It Somewhere and Other Service Costs

Finally, here are some of the remaining recurring costs that most people pay for the luxury of being boat owners. The biggest are related to where the boat lives when it’s afloat and where it sleeps during winter.

  1. Insurance for the boat. Most people have liability insurance (helps when you accidentally cause damage to other people/stuff), and quite a few (me included) insure their own boat as well.
  2. Marina/slip fee for where the boat is kept while afloat. In Finland this is usually from May through September.
  3. Storage fee for where the boat is kept during the winter. These vary quite much depending on the storage (warm or cold, for instance) and the included services.
  4. Scheduled maintenance of engine and other parts, done usually at the time the boat is readied for winter storage and before put into water in spring.
  5. Antifouling, cleaning and polishing the hull, usually done once a year before launching into water.

If you want to add more to the list, please leave a comment 🙂

Ideas

On the whole, I think the idea is to minimize the gap between the purchasing and selling price, and pick carefully what changes and improvements are made in between.

Here are some principles I’m thinking about:

  1. Keep the boat in excellent condition, but as close to factory specification as possible. When something needs to be replaced, if possible, replace it with the same (new) component. This should make it easier to compare the boat with similar newly built one.
  2. No (or very very few) upgrades. Again, lots of people say money invested in upgrades will never find its way into resale value. Also, as in the first principle, this will make it easier to compare the second hand boat with a newly built.
  3. Make a value (and depreciation) model of everything. When buying a second hand boat it’s hard to evaluate how much life the different components have left in them before they fail, and so also hard to actually determine the value of the boat. My intent is to log details of all essential components and use this log to estimate replacement cost as well as replacement time for all the parts.
  4. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. The manuals contain a ton of instructions that need to be followed for the boat to feel well. I thought of turning these into digital checklists.
  5. Record as much data as possible of everything. I don’t know what all this data might be used for, but I’ll figure out that later. Yanmar, for example, says that for the engine to feel well, it has to regularly run in a certain RPM interval for a certain amount of time. It would be nice to have data showing that this box is checked.
  6. Be really open and transparent. Better markets require more and better information, so I will try to figure out good ways of sharing a lot of information. One boat (owner) can’t change the market, obviously, but what I can do, is share my ideas and experiences of trying to implement them.

So, What is the Cost of a New Hanse 388?

Rewindining to the original question, I don’t have a complete answer yet. There are still some things that have to be done to our Hanse 388 before it’s officially ready and handed over to us, so we’ll see what it will all add up to.

I have put together a timeline, though, showing everything that has happened so far, and where we’re currently at.

The Events column has a log of everything that has happened so far, including all the costs. The Value column shows the estimated value (and depreciation) of the boat.

You can open the timeline by clicking on the image blow.

Hanse 388 cost model.
Click on the image and scroll down to see where we’re at today with our Hanse 388!

As always, I welcome your feedback and ideas. I’m confident there is much room for improvement.

And oh yes! Merry Christmas! 🎄🖖🏻😄