For over a year now, I’ve kept a detailed cost log for our yacht project. There are two questions I’ve tried to find answers to. Firstly, what does sailing a new Hanse 388 really cost? Secondly, if I compare this to chartering costs, would it have been less costly to rent a boat than to buy one— especially given our short sailing season in Finland!

Conventional wisdom says that it’s always cheaper to charter than to own, but I have my doubts.

The Costs

Our costs of sailing are basically: [money spent for buying and using the boat] minus [money received when eventually selling it].

For a detailed explanation about how I’ve modelled and estimated these costs, check the post: What Is the Cost of a New Hanse 388?

The short and simple version:

  • For the base boat and its options, the cost is calculated as a depreciation cost. The crossover sail, for example was 5,419 € as new, has an estimated (by me) technical life of 4 years, meaning its depreciation cost is 1,355 € / year (or 26 € / week).
  • For extra equipment that will last for several years (dinghy, life raft, etc), calculate costs as above.
  • Add all other direct costs: insurance, engine service, repairs, etc.
  • Don’t include guest harbour fees and other fees that you would have to pay also when chartering. Do include home harbour and winter storage fees.

Using this model, today’s snapshot shows:

  • Investment in boat, options, extras (including vinyl wrapped colour) and other long lasting equipment: 235,328 €. Estimated depreciation costs for the investment (today): 16,437 €.
  • First season direct costs: home harbour slip 700 €, winter storage 3,560 €, insurance 996 €, service 588 €, and other stuff 114 €. Total 5,958 €.

(You can check the live data over here: Cost log & Depreciation model.)

Cost of Sailing Our Own Hanse

Depreciation according to model (Dec 8th)16,437 €
Direct costs5,958 €
Total costs22,384 €
Weeks of sailing6.6
Costs / week (Dec 8th)3,391 €

A few notes:

  1. The weekly cost is very sensitive to how much we’ve sailed. More sailing, cheaper weeks. With only four weeks of summer vacation, however, 6.6 weeks is about as good as it gets.
  2. The depreciation cost is based on a theoretical value model with a lot of estimates. The proof of the pudding arrives only when the boat is sold. Until that, the main cost driver is a (linearly evolving) best guess.
  3. The costs / week will continue to rise for the next few months until we get the boat on water and start sailing again. In May 2020, they will be about 3,800 €/week.

So, the cost of sailing our own Hanse has been roughly 3,400 € / week as of now, and will increase to about 3,800 €/week if we haven’t sold the boat or sailed it (unlikely!) before May 2020.

Charlotte and children on our HanseYachts Hanse 388 s/y Charlotte,
First season costs for this: somewhere between 3,400 – 3,800 € / sailing week.

Cost of Chartering

It’s not possible to charter a Hanse 388 here in Finland, but I scraped together some (at least reasonably) comparable high season charter prices. Service fees, a dinghy and a downwind sail are included (where available).

For the rentals abroad, where you actually can find Hanse 388s, travel fees for two adults, four children and a dog are added. The weekly cost for foreign charters are calculated using this formula: (4 weeks * weekly price + travel fees) / 4.

YachtTravelPrice/wk
Dufour 405 (Midnight Sun Sails)3,950 €
Hanse 388 in Sweden(418 €)3,920 €
Hanse 388 in Croatia(1,579 €)3,855 €
s/y Charlotte (May 1st)3,800 €
Hanse 385 (4sail.fi)3,665 €
Dufour 375 (Midnight Sun Sailing)3,650 €
s/y Charlotte (Dec 8th)3,391 €
Chartering a Hanse, about 3,600 – 3,900 € / week, including travel costs.
Screenshot from YachtRent, yacht-rent.com

Conclusion

A bit surprisingly, the costs are quite similar. For our kind of sailing (doing it mostly during our short summer vacation), it’s not obviously cheaper, nor more expensive than to charter a boat.

The huge advantage of having your own yacht is that you can freely choose when you want to use it. With most charter companies, you have to reserve the boat at least weeks, usually months ahead, and then just hope for decent weather to happen, during that particular time. Another advantage is that you have much better knowledge about how everything works (or doesn’t) on the boat.

And all your own stuff is already there.

And you get the golden colour and the perfectly right shade of creamy white upholstery! 🤟

The biggest advantage of chartering, I think, is that you don’t have any responsibility for the wellbeing of the yacht outside the rental period. No engine services, no winter storage fees, no sail upgrades, equipment repairs etc. No worrying about what the resale price might be one day. No waking up in the middle of the night wondering if the mooring lines are causing chafing on the vinyl wrapping …

For me, personally, I think the boat project is exciting in itself. There is much more to sailing, than sailing, in a way.

Anyway, for our part and our kind of sailing, I’m happy to put one myth to rest: chartering isn’t obviously cheaper than buying a new boat. They are about the same.