Costs of Learning to Sail
I have been learning how to sail! I have some pipe dreams of cruising around the world on a sailboat, though at this point in my life, that isn’t really an option. I don’t spend a lot of money on entertainment, going out, or gym memberships, so I selected sailing as my newest hobby. It is a bit more expensive than I anticipated, but to be honest, I didn’t think much about it. It sounded fun, so I signed up.
First there are the lessons. They cost $385, but I was able to pay about $150 instead of full price. This includes 3 lectures of 3 hours each, and six on the water days of 3+ hours each. I can now take the second round, which is the same price but more advanced topics. There are also some fees to get “certified”, which I was not originally aware of. It is about $95 for a written exam and on the water exam, plus another $30 or so for a log book. I think there is one of these certifications for each of the first 2 classes, so I’d have to pay the fees two times. If I want to go further, the next step would be $445 (!) for a weekend trip that certifies me to charter my own boat.
Then there is the “gear”. I didn’t go overboard and buy a bunch of actual sailing gear, but I did purchase a $50 windbreaker, $20 sunglasses, and $20 white soled deck shoes. I could have just wore regular sneakers, but mine had black soles. If I were to get really into sailing, I might have to get “foul weather gear” but I haven’t found the need.
Between the classes and the gear (mainly the classes) I could easily spend $1000 this year learning how to sail. Then what? What am I going to do with my knowledge? T is going to take the class I just took, and we could take boats on little trips around here. However, sailing seems to be expensive and time consuming and neither one of us has a lot of time or money right now. Purchasing a sail boat is only realistic if I intend to live on it, which sounds a bit romantic but is a little to extreme for this point in my life.
I can’t afford to regularly rent boats, I really can’t afford to go out and buy a boat. Is sailing a wealthy person’s hobby? It seems like there is a mix of wealthy people and people who are free spirited. My sailing teacher has given up his life in the “rat race”, as he said. After spending a year cruising with his family, he has taken to making a living by writing on the weekdays and teaching sailing on the weekends. Not a bad life, if I don’t say so myself. (This is helped by the fact he sold a home in the L.A. area at the peak of the real estate bubble. I wish I did that.)
I don’t know what to do from here. I could continue taking classes, but I have no real goal for my sailing hobby, other than fun. It is apparent I won’t be buying a yacht or chartering a cruise to South America anytime soon. I could call my $200 spent so far a fun entertainment/educational expense, and put my sailing career on hold. I could pay $150 more for another session of six lessons. I could pay another $200 on top of that to get fully certified. But for what purpose? I can afford to learn to sail, but I can’t afford to sail on a regular basis after that. It would be kind of like how T, two summers ago when making decent money, learned how to fly private small planes for perhaps $3000 or so. He loved it, but he hasn’t been up in over a year because it is too expensive for a grad student to keep up. (I hated it. I got airsick and small planes are actually pretty dangerous.)
After moving and putting my degree on hold, I found myself with a lot more free time than I was used to, so learning to sail was one thing I chose to explore. Next fall, I’m going to be continuing my M.S. degree and I won’t have time for these hobbies. I still have a whole summer left to explore other interests, and now is the time to decide if I want to continue sailing or spend my time doing something else.