You have to get yourself to a point where you can afford a cheap or even a free boat. By that I mean you have to have the knowledge, the ability and the willingness to work on such a boat while often living on it, to save money
on rent, etc.
Case in point. Last weekend I was helping my friend clean and paint the bottom of his boat while the tide was extra low. There were couple of guys who were helping as well. As we had 4 people doing it instead of the usual 2 we finished early and while waiting for the tide to float us spent the rest of the evening shooting breeze, etc. Turns out one of the 2 other guys used to be a sailing club member
for about 5 years and finally decided to get his own boat. I was floored to find out that last November he got a 44 foot late 60s classic for $5K, a fraction of what was owed to the yard by the boat's PO. Sure the boat sat neglected in a yard with its hull half full of rain water
. The guy got the engine
, an old now uncommon brand, to run and splashed the boat early in the Spring and moved her to a downtown mooring
, since he works nearby, commuting to work by dinghy
. He gave up his city apartment and moved onto the boat. That is saving him a ton of dough which he puts back into the boat. For winter he told us he's getting a dock
space since they are dirt cheap off season. Admittedly he's more handy than your average dreamer, apparently having worked with engines and other things mechanical since high school
but still I was impressed by the fact that it took him only one winter to get the boat from a "sorry derelict full of water" to a "floating home downtown" condition. It is of course far from "blue water ready boat" yet but I'm sure he'll get her there in less time than it takes most dreamers to just go out looking for their "right boat". And I should know since I was once such a dreamer looking at the boats instead of learning
the systems, having hands on experience, etc.
Second point is that everything is a compromise and is relative. When I got my first boat, a 27 footer for all of $400, my first goal was to keep the costs at least on par or less with what the sailing clubs were charging
per season of the use of such class of boats. Which in the case of the club I was a member
of was about $3,000 per year. I owned that boat for about 4-5 years and not once did I exceed that limit. So financially at least for me it was a wash compared to paying the club. But psychologically it was a great boost since not only owning the boat compared to using club's boats helped me with the learning
curve it also allowed me to personalize the boat to my tastes and needs (my biggest peeve while at the club was having to lug all that gear
and doodahs for those week long or even weekend cruises) but also forced me to deal with all the things ancillary to the boat ownership
Oh, and I sold it for $1,100 to a guy who was going to use her as his summer apartment which would have cost him at least that much per month to rent.