- Wood boats are old-fashioned but represent tradition and quality.
- A good wooden sailboat build kit will cost at least $2000.
- Wooden boat making is labor-intensive, driving the cost way up.
- A wood boat can last well over 25 years with proper care and storage.
- Custom wooden watercraft cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Looking to buy a wooden boat but wondering how much it will cost? We'll delve into the world of wooden boat ownership and the factors that affect the price tag.
Now, when it comes to cost, wooden boats range quite a bit depending on the size, condition, type, and age. A small wooden row or sailboat in decent condition could be purchased for around $5,000, while a larger classic wooden boat could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
But don't let that scare you off! If you're willing to put in the time and effort to maintain your vessel, you'll be rewarded with a beautiful and enjoyable boat that will last for generations.
Buying and Maintaining Wooden Boats
These boats are a true testament to the art of boatbuilding; in fact, they were the first boat type ever constructed.
They require a higher level of care and attention, but the end result is worth it. Whether you're a seasoned boater or just starting out, we highly recommend considering a wooden boat as your next boat.
Do People Still Make Wood Boats?
Absolutely they do! In fact, there is a thriving community of wooden boat enthusiasts and independent craftsmen around the world who continue to build and maintain these beautiful vessels according to the old traditions.
While the popularity of wood boats may have declined with the advent of modern fiberglass and aluminum boats, there is still a strong appreciation for the beauty, craftsmanship, and unique character of wood boats.
Many boatbuilders specialize in building custom classic boats for clients, using traditional techniques and materials to create unique and one-of-a-kind vessels.
Some of the finest wooden boat makers, such as Chris Craft, Grand Craft, or Hacker, simply produce the boats they want and allow buyers to come to them, often before production is even complete.
For example, used Hacker crafts can be found for sale for nearly $300,000. That’s a lot of money and out of most people’s budget.
On the more affordable end, an antique Chris Craft can sell for as little as $30,000, making it a great first wooden boat.
In addition, there are several organizations that support the preservation of classic boats and their crafting techniques and tools, such as the Wooden Boat Foundation, the Antique and Classic Boat Society (ACBS), and the Center for Wooden Boats (CWB), to name a few.
These organizations provide resources and support for antique boat enthusiasts, including boatbuilding classes, restoration workshops, and access to a community of like-minded individuals.
Boston Whaler now uses plywood and fiberglass, but antiques with the real can be found for sale from time to time.
Why Are Wooden Boats So Expensive Compared to Fiberglass Boats?
Boats made from wood are incredibly expensive and labor-intensive for a few reasons:
- Materials: High-quality wood that is suitable for classic boats is expensive. The price of wood varies depending on the type and quality used. In addition, all decent wooden vessels require surprisingly large amounts of wood, which can also contribute to the high price.
- Labor: Wood boats require skilled craftsmen who are experienced in very rare boat building skills. These craftsmen often take a lot of time and effort to build the boat, up to hundreds of hours, which adds to the cost. This is especially true if the boat is being built using time-honored traditional methods, which may take longer than modern production methods.
- Maintenance: Wood boats require more maintenance than other types of boats. This is due to the fact that wood is a natural material that requires regular care to keep it in good condition. Maintenance can include sanding, varnishing, painting, and other upkeep activities that can be time-consuming and costly.
- Rarity: Classic boats made of wood are not as common as fiberglass boats, which can also add to their cost. Fewer people demand them, so fewer people make them, so they cost more. The limited number of skilled boatbuilders and the amount of time it takes to build a wood boat makes them rare and more expensive than their mass-produced fiberglass counterparts.
As a result, the most prestigious makers can set their own prices, for the most part.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Wooden Sailboat?
Building your own wooden craft will lower the costs, but that doesn't mean it'll be cheap. Complete kits start around $1,000 and can climb to over $20,000.
Plans are available for purchase on their own, usually only costing a few hundred bucks, but then you have to find the raw materials and pay the materials cost yourself and deal with all of the processing and cutting.
A sailboat-building kit is a package of materials and instructions that allows you to build your own sailboat from scratch.
These kits typically include pre-cut wooden pieces made from solid woods or marine plywood, hardware, and a set of plans or instructions to guide you through the building process.
The upfront cost of a sailboat building kit depends on the size and complexity of the boat; they are generally less expensive than buying a pre-built small wooden boat.
This is because you are essentially providing the labor yourself, which saves a significant amount of money.
Look at this very simple wooden sailboat kit from Chesapeake Light Craft. You're looking at a $3000+ investment before any labor to get to the finished boat.
What Wood Is Best for Making Boats?
There are several options to choose from in the world of boat materials.
- Mahogany is a popular choice due to its strength, lightweight, and attractive grain pattern.
- Teak is another common choice because of its durability, resistance to rot, and high oil content that makes it water-resistant. Many consider this the best of the best for boat making.
- Cedar, particularly yellow cedar, is a lightweight wood that is often used for small boats due to its flexibility, durability, and resistance to rot.
- Oak is a strong and durable wood that is suitable for boat framing and planking and is resistant to rot and insect damage, making it ideal for boats used in saltwater environments.
A skilled boatbuilder can help select the right wood for the right boat.
Is a Boat a Poor Investment?
Frustratingly, the answer is yes and no. In general, it doesn't make sense to think of boats as pure investments at all, wood or otherwise.
While it's true that boats can be expensive to purchase, operate, and maintain, they can also provide a lot of enjoyment and pleasure to their owners.
A boat can be a great way to spend time with family and friends, enjoy the outdoors, and experience the beauty of the water.
Is that what investment means to you? In that case, yes, a boat is a good investment.
Keep in mind that the overall cost of boat ownership can add up quickly, with expenses such as storage, maintenance, fuel, insurance, and docking fees all contributing to the total cost of ownership.
What is the Lifespan of a Wooden Boat and other Classic Boats?
With proper care and maintenance, a wooden boat can last for more than 25 years and, in some cases, even centuries.
High-quality pieces that are well-maintained can retain their structural integrity and continue to perform well on the water.
That being said, wood requires more maintenance and care than other types of boats, which can affect their lifespan.
Wood is a natural material that can be affected by moisture, sun exposure, and other environmental factors.
As a result, this kind of boat needs to be regularly inspected, sanded, varnished, and protected to prevent decay and rot.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson