Do you dream of sailing over the horizon in your own sailboat? If so, one of the biggest questions you probably have is, How much is the boat?

In this episode, we break down the cost of our Tartan 37, going into the buying process, closing expenses and transaction costs in detail. We talk about how we prepared financially for making the transition to cruising life, by paying off all debts (student loans), acquiring passive income streams, and saving for the boat itself. We discuss the upgrades we made before we left the dock, and detail the cost of each upgrade.

How did we manage to stick to (well, very close, anyway!) our budget? A handful of fancy spreadsheets! (Links below) These financial tools we developed were incredibly helpful in taking the guesswork out of the boat buying process. They help answer questions like:

  • Is the boat I’m interested in priced fairly?
  • What should my offer price be?
  • How much will the upgrades cost?
  • Should I pay cash or finance a boat?

Even after setting our goal of buying a cruising sailboat 10 years ago, we took a long wandering path through a series of wrong turns to get to where we are now. Our aim with this video is to arm you with a set of tools to help you navigate your boat buying experience like a pro.

Hope you enjoy!
Lauren & Kirk

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Episode Dialogue

Now that we’ve owned our boat for a little while.

And we have officially left the dock.

We thought it might be a good time right before we set off down the river to take a step back and talk to you guys about money.

Cash flow.

Dollah-dollah bills, y’all.



Everybody always wants to know, how much does it cost?

And it’s one of the most important questions too because it’s one of the biggest barriers for entry. Once you decide that you want to buy a boat, once you decide that you want to go cruising, the next biggest question is, do you have the money?

Today we’re gonna talk to you about a couple of things. We are going to answer the question, how much does it all cost? We just bought a boat. That’s the big one.

We’re gonna touch on our saving and planning in the years that lead up to actually buying the boat. Yeah . Lauren just paid off all her school loans. The types of expenses to expect when purchasing a boat.

[Woman] $370 to document a boat. When you have a lien and you have to record it it jumps up to like $570.

The upgrades that we needed to do to the boat once we purchased it.

A new windlass.

44 pound Rocna. We got a dinghy! Here is your throne. 200 feet of chain.

Lastly, we’re gonna talk about the tools that we developed, to help us answer some of the questions, like should we finance the boat and how much boat can we afford? And how much is it gonna cost to make this boat into what we want it to be after we do buy it. It took us 10 years from the day we decided we wanted to go sailing, to signing the dotted line to purchase our sail boat. Was it 10 years, really?

Yeah it was, I mean it’s kind of a gray area but yeah, it’s about a decade. Overall, our biggest thing was we didn’t wanna just save up some money, take off, and then when that money run out, be forced to come back to land. We actually already had done that once. It wasn’t a boat situation, but we quit our jobs and we took off traveling, and then we ran out of money and we had to come back and get jobs. We did that in our early 20s and that wasn’t something we wanted to do again. This time we wanted to make it sustainable. So we wanted to eliminate debt, we wanted to acquire some passive income streams and.

We needed to save for the boat.

And we needed to save for the boat.

So while it took us 10 years to do all of those things you can probably get them done a lot faster if you don’t come out of school with massive amounts of debt and if you are comfortable with the idea that after a year, or two, you might need to stop and get different jobs. We’re treating this a little bit differently, we’re wanting to make it a sustainable lifestyle and so we are working the entire time that we’re traveling and we’re hoping to cut back on that a little bit but it’s more of a lifestyle choice for us rather then a sabbatical. So during all of our time thinking about buying a boat in that 10 year period, we also had to talk money. We had to figure out how much money we could spend and it wasn’t always clear because.

The type of boat that we wanted changed.


Like drastically over the years that we were searching.

I’d like it, we’d have to put some money into it though.

That boat’s a piece of work.

We really didn’t follow a very well thought-out plan, which is why I wrote the post “How to Buy the Right Sailboat for You.” So that you could learn from our mistakes.

So you’re not idiots like us, spending years looking for a boat.

But when it came down to brass tacks, we decided we had a all-in budget of $50,000.

And the $50,000 thing actually came just a little bit after we had like a $30,000 budget for a little while.

For a while we thought we wanted to stick around $30,000 and then we decided we could go a little bit more to get what we felt like would be a significantly better boat that was gonna require a lot less work.


So that really leads into, kind of the thinking behind our budget was, we had $50,000 all-in. That meant we could buy a $50,000 boat and not spend a penny more, or we could buy a cheaper boat and every dollar under $50,000 was money that we could put towards upgrades.

You might still be wondering, why $50,000? We wanted to buy a boat that was pretty much ready to go. We didn’t want to be stuck in a boatyard for months or years, trying to finish a half-completed boat. We looked at boats that were less than $50,000 and we felt like either, they were too small for the two of us, or they weren’t in good enough condition. And so after looking at hundreds of listings, probably thousands, it just seemed like $50,000 was the minimum amount that we would need to spend to comfortably get what we were looking for, which was something that was pretty much ready to go and also the size that we wanted, somewhere between 35 and 40 feet.

And the reason for that is a few things. I’m six foot three, and having standing head room in the place that I’m going to live, is very important. Also, we work remotely, so we need some office space and having some space for toys was also very important.

[Lauren] What d’you got?

I got some kiteboard here. How much does it all cost? Is that where we are at?

Well, yeah, we’re gonna focus on how much it costs to actually buy the boat. Of course there are costs once you buy the boat, ownership costs, but we will only.

Save that for another video.

Focus on what it costs to buy the boat.

When buying a boat, there are a lot of expenses that are easily overlooked. We found that when buying our boat, all of those expenses added up to about 10% of the purchase price.

And that’s because of all these other little expenses that you really don’t think about when you’re just browsing online, looking at the listing price of the boat. The list price of our boat, was.

What was it, do you remember?

I’m pretty sure, it was 40 ss.

Do we need to look it up?

Seven? There it is, 47.



So our all-in budget, was $50,000. The boat was listed for $47,000. Bing! We’re under budget already.


We offered.


We agreed on a purchase price of $43,500.


That was great .

That left us with $6,500 for upgrades and repairs, which we thought was fantastic.

But not so fast.

That was before we realized all of the other transactional costs associated with the purchase of our boat were going to add up to $4,029.


So what were all of those costs?

Survey, $740.

Our haulout to inspect the bottom of the boat during the survey was $272.

Insurance was actually something that we needed to have at the closing because we decided to finance our boat.

$591. We bought a Boat US membership, so that we had unlimited towing. We felt like we didn’t want to leave the dock and go anywhere without that. Was $10.

$10 that was the best money that we spent I think.

Closing costs, were $125.

Registration was 73 but the biggest one was sales tax.

That was $2,218.


And depending on which state you are in and how dubious you feel like being that day there are many ways, both legal and illegal to try and get out of paying the sales tax but we just decided not to go through all of that hassle and pay up.

Because we’re also not by nature, crooks. So that did a good job of eating up most of the rest of our budget.

Leaving us with a total of $2,471 for upgrades and repairs. That’s startin’ to feel a little bit slim.

99.9% of the time when you buy a boat there’s gonna to be something that you want to do to it after you buy it. And in our case, there was a bunch of upgrades that we wanted to make.

But we prioritized a number of things that we wanted to do to the boat before heading down the river.

To be specific, we weren’t super-concerned about getting a solar array up, we also weren’t concerned about immediately upgrading our batteries. Those were things that we decided to do later. But the things that we did do.

Are many.


Are we showing a list on screen right now?

Sure, I don’t know. We bought a radar reflector, we bought a handheld VHF, we bought two jerry cans for fuel, one for water. We got a free inflatable dinghy with oars. We upgraded all of our LED, all of our cabin lights to LEDs. We bought Navionics for our iPhone. We purchased a new Rocna anchor. We purchased and installed a windlass. We added 200 feet of 5/16 high test chain. We got an anchor bridle, a swivel. And everything to finish out our.

Anchoring system.

Ground tackle anchoring system. We got our cell phone signal booster and an antenna so that we can continue working. And we made covers for our compass, our handrails and our winches. And put in some soundproofing for our engine compartment so that it wouldn’t drive us crazy as we were motoring down the river in a sailboat. That covers it.

Is that it?

That is all of our costs, to date from purchasing the boat through leaving our home port and starting out on our adventure. I just realized I didn’t include the stuff we bought before we bought the boat which was the holding tank, which was $700, which would put us $1,100 over budget.

Oh .

Shh. There are probably a few thousand dollars of other expenses in there for just living expenses. Probably a couple of hundred more in there for just consumables and every day odds and ends like cleaning supplies, and.


Little bits here and there that didn’t make it into this list.


Kleenex. Why Kleenex?

I don’t know.

And a few months between buying the boat and preparing her to head down the river, we spent a total of $2,924 meaning we were only $423 over budget. For a grand total of $50,423 spent to purchase and outfit our boat for extended, long-term travel. So how did we spend $50,000 and only manage to go $423 over budget? That’s a good question, you might ask.

How do you know that a boat is listed for a reasonable price? How do you know what to offer? Not all the time do you want to offer the full price. I mean, just like houses, you often offer under what the asking price is. And then how did we know that the counter-offer was something that was acceptable? Those are all really good questions. And we didn’t just stick with a feeling. You know, it wasn’t like oh, this feels right. But we crunched the numbers.

As part of the process to purchase our boat we developed a few financial tools to help us make decisions and streamline the boat-buying process. The first tool we created to help us determine what was the fair market value of the boat that we were looking at. It also served to help us take an inventory of everything that was on the boat so that we could figure out what else we might need to add to that boat after purchase.

‘Cause the boat itself is only one part of it. especially if you’re going to be cruising, all the extra stuff on the boat is a big deal.

So this tool helped us estimate the cost of everything that we would need to add to the boat after purchase, and is a major reason why we were able to stay pretty close to our budget. The tool also helped us analyze sold boats data we got from the listing broker. We were able to look at all of the sales history for the past three years of every Tartan 37 sold through a broker, and analyze the average sales price, how long it sat on the market, the percent and dollar amount of the discount, and ultimately, generate a suggested offer price that we should make on the boat that we were buying.

[Lauren] So that we knew we weren’t gonna overpay on the boat.

The second tool we created, was a tool to help us decide between buying the boat in cash or financing the boat, and saving that cash and investing it in some other manner. Both of those tools we created were extremely important in helping us make all of the decisions throughout our boat-buying process. We’re really excited to be able to share those tools with our patrons. You’ll have full access to all current financial tools, as well as any future updates that we make to them along the way.

But if you’re not a patron and you’re still interested in using these tools, you can.

We’re making them available for purchase and they can be downloaded directly from our website. Put a link in the description below.


Thanks so much for watching. If you like what we had to share today even through it was a little bit different and at some times awkward. Mostly her.

Yeah, definitely.

Let us know. If there is somethin’ that we didn’t cover here today that you’d like to see, tell us in the compli, compliments?

Tell us in the compliments.

Tell us in the compliments, yo.

Compliments only . Anyway, thank you for watching, and we will see you soon.