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Old 27-11-2007, 09:17   #1
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Cost of power vs. sail

Hello to all. Brand new fact, this is my first post.

Like many, I am doing research for my dreams! My wife and I are seriously thinking of living aboard in about 6 years, once last son is out of school. I see this site as a wonderful resource to begin learning. At this point we both need a lot of learning!

In reading various websites I ran across a statement last night that over a period of 2-4 years the cost of owning and operating a sail boat is about the same as a power boat. With fuel costs what they are that seems like a strange statement to me. Can anyone offer your thoughts and/or experiences? Your input is greatly appreciated.

To be in context, we are thinking of getting a 36-40' new to nearly new catamaran and primarily staying in the Caribbean and/or Gulf of Mexico. Not married to the catamaran, just our thought at the moment.

Thanks again for the help.


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Old 27-11-2007, 09:53   #2
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Smile First, Welcome aboard HC

There are a lot of variables involved with owning either power or sail.......

The age of the vessels.

How much you know and work you can do on vessels

What are your needs/accomodations

How well you can navigate either

How well either of you can handle the motions of either vessels

What weather conditions you are willing to accept

How far you plan to travel

These few questions will surely get the discussion rolling.

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Old 27-11-2007, 09:59   #3
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We've had many of both, all things being equal (eg age of boat, maintenance history, etc.) our experience is that sail is cheaper to buy and way cheaper to operate.
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Old 27-11-2007, 10:03   #4
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This is an unanswerable question without differentiating operating costs from capital cost ( equavalent value is not the same as equivalent size), for what and how long the boat is underway (exaggeration for effect - Miami to Tonga), and how the boat is provisioned (another exaggeration for effect - my son has 17 sails aboard his boat sometimes).
Although there are arguemtns either way, the real answer depends on the individual circumstances
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Old 27-11-2007, 10:05   #5
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Sail is generally cheaper, apples to apples.

But it really comes down to:

- Your lifestyle (eating out costs the same no matter what your boat is)
- Your doo-dads and gizmos (satelite telephone costs the same no matter what your boat is)

You'll find a lot more resources as a budget minded sailor than you will budget minded power boater. Besides, sailing is about a million times cooler than being on a power boat.
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Old 27-11-2007, 10:55   #6
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I think it is more of a lifestyle choice than an economic choice although both factors are very relevant.

The cost is going to vary with how important is it to get there fast and how far you plan to go.

Obviously, if you want to get there fast, then a powerboat is the answer. For traveling great distances then a sailboat is your answer.

If you own the boat and its not being used for any commercial purposes, then go with a sailboat. The only real need for getting there fast is for making money or if you get bored easily and feel "the need for speed".

I have run powerboats for most of my life for a living and I plan on retiring to a sailboat. I like both types of boats for various reasons, but you can't beat a sailboat for fun. I can't wait to get out on the ocean without having to listen to some noisy engine and genset droning away in the background.

If you think about it, most sailboats are also powerboats. With a sailboat though, you have the option of shutting down the noise when you don't need it. Nothing beats peace and quiet out on the water. It's such a wonderful experience to hear only the wind and the water. There is also more of a sense of accomplishment in having the wind power you along. I think your seamanship skills are also more quickly developed with a sailboat.

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Old 27-11-2007, 11:08   #7
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Been in both positions over the years, and in my humble opinion...... sail is wayyy cheaper, especially once you leave the dock. My experience shows a difference of 1 mile per gallon versus 1 gallon per hour, or not. As I progress thru life, recently passed the big six-oh (in age) I would prefer to just turn the key and be outta here with drink in hand..... having said that, if your plans are to cruise away from shore, the CAT is an excellant choice and one I would prefer for that trip. Big cat's are hard to beat for comfort, liveability and operating expense, probably resale, also.
Good luck with whatever you choose, but there's NOTHING to compare being on a sailboat in some far distant island, as I said, just my opinion!
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Old 27-11-2007, 12:44   #8
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I can't remember who, but one of the fellows here is building a cat with power rather then sail. He should be able to give you very good numbers. pro/com
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Old 27-11-2007, 12:58   #9
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power vs sail


Thank you for your replies. I'm learning. Please keep them coming.

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Old 27-11-2007, 13:34   #10
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For a specific case that I wouldn't apply to the general. Dashews claim their unsailboat is operationally much cheaper than their sailboats. - the serious cruising sailor's website

For me, it's lifestyle. I enjoy sailing. I would get an RV before a powerboat.

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Old 27-11-2007, 13:55   #11
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also depends on the cost of fuel which seems to be heading to the moon
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Old 27-11-2007, 14:25   #12
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The Dashews could save money by having a few less butlers and maids aboard.

Catmando is building a long light power cat - he's done the numbers and believes it can work out more economical - he is building his boat to be fuel efficient, he isn't having high powered motors, and IIRC his target cruising speed is around 10 kts. I'm sure when he sees this thread he'll be able to give you excellent info.

It's probably true that in pure dollar terms most of us don't get good miles-per-buck out of our rigs and sails. But sailing is fun - I hate having to motor.

There's a thread about this here: Efficient Powerboats vs Efficient Sailboats (Running Cost Comparison)
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Old 27-11-2007, 14:44   #13
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Hi welcome to the board houcruzer. I'm doing the same thing as well, doing tons of research and I started here as well!! Excellent people here with tons of experience.

I would agree that it all depends on what your lifestyle choice is. If you plan on going to purely remote locals, then the sail is your best option. With a power boat, you have to make sure that there are refueling stations along the way, etc..

I've heard the same thing that sailing should be cheaper overall and more long term satisfaction. Don't get me wrong, most of my friends have VERY nice power yachts and they are an absolute blast!! But again, for short term excursions.

Good luck on your research and welcome again!!
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Old 27-11-2007, 14:58   #14
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Well, lets see, as I understood your question, all other things being equal, sail will be waaaaaaaay cheaper, and probably slower, tho a good Cat will stream your hair In general it will make a better living platform, and the difference between romancing your woman while sailing along in the moonlight to the accompaniment of the soft swirling sounds of the sea; as opposed to the smells, vibration, and pounding ...of the big power diesel...well...lets just call it "no contest".

As for the Dashews, they say their new what, 65 ft? or is it 80ft light displacement trawler is undoubtedly comfortable, yeah, but price one. it had BETTER be comfortable hehehe

Lastly, keep your sail plan simple. Amazes me how many incredibly expensive gee gaws folks in the business have come up that you 'can't sail without'...even tho everyone did for tens of thousands of years...and most cruisers, still do today

Dreams are good, dream them, live them. In the end that's all life is. The rest? well that's just background noise.

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Old 27-11-2007, 15:19   #15
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Originally Posted by cal40john View Post - the serious cruising sailor's website

For me, it's lifestyle. I enjoy sailing. I would get an RV before a powerboat.

If I had the checkbook, I would try that 64 out for a while. I think the wife would come along without any fuss at all.

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