Why buy a boat?

November 22, 2011

If I had a penny for every time a fellow sailor regurgitated the phrase ‘owning a boat is a lot like throwing money into a hole in the water’ …I’d have a no money worries for the rest of my days. Yet the very same people who relish in throwing that curve ball time after time, are themselves boat owners, who appear to make that claim despite continuing to be boat owners year on year.

Why? Surely they can’t all be mad. So there must be an upside that outweighs the massive financial drain …right?

From a distance it’s easy to write-off a yacht as an extravagant play thing, but for me that’s missing the point. Sure a boat isn’t as important as your home and it’s not a financial investment in the way that houses used to be, but in many respects boat ownership makes more sense than spending money on a convertible sportscar or a superbike.

In the UK, sailing is predominantly a summer sport, but nevertheless it is a year-round hobby. It’s a whole new lifestyle, with its own vocabulary and a new circle of friends. Sure that could be said about being a biker, but there’s more…

Sunset on the River Forth, Scotland

Like cars and motorbikes, boats are a form of transport. However, only a yacht is a venue. It’s a destination. It’s a place to eat, a place to socialize, a place to be a mum or a dad, a brother, a sister, or a spouse. Cars, motorbikes and boats all take you somewhere …but you can stay overnight (or all week) on your boat. Try doing that in a Mercedes SL.

We’re not totally awash with cash. We live in a modest villa, in a typical British estate …however we have an amazing floating annexe with a prime sea view, and we can change that view any time we like during the sailing season.

Winter? Well, like many we take our boat out of the water over the winter, but nonetheless our 32ft Macwester Malin remains a venue. We’re still there regularly, carrying out wee jobs and socializing with our friends in the yard or at the clubhouse …and yes, we have stayed overnight too.

Of course, it’s not free. Boat ownership will cost you money, but if you buy a used boat sensibly and keep maintaining your boat properly, five or ten years down the road your boat will probably still be worth what you paid for it. Not something you can say about too many cars or bikes.

Looking closer at the financials for a moment. Let’s assume that you have a family unit of five. How much do you spend on a two-week summer holiday annually …£3,000 or more? If so, five years down the line you’ve spent upwards of £15,000 on holidays, but what do you have other than fading memories and digital photos? Unlike a yacht, there is absolutely no residual value in a package holiday. Alternatively, if you purchase a boat, over and above every other weekend, you can conceivably use it for summer holidays and still have a tangible asset when you’re finished.

Why buy a boat?

Because living costs money any-which-way you live it.

It’s a choice. It’s an investment in your quality of life.

We choose to give our children fond memories to cherish for the rest of their days. We choose to live our lives now, not postpone them for another ten years …or even worse spend our free time watching someone else living their dream life on a 50 inch television screen.



  1. We have just purchased our first boat. A 32 ft macwester. We are busting with excitment. We cannot agree with you more. Thanks. You took the word right out of our mouths.


    • Good luck with your new boat. I guess in many senses you’re in the same boat as we were two years ago as our Malin is our first boat too. You might find some of the archives on this blog useful, should you come up against any technical challenges.

      Best piece of advice I can offer to you is that if you’re in two minds about the weather prospects …wait until you’re sure. See the “Force 8 Gail sail” post on this site for our learning experience.

      Happy sailing!


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