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“We Don’t Just Talk About Rowing – We Actually Row!”

How Much Does a Crew Boat Cost? Our Complete Guide for Beginners

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How much does a crew boat cost

Hi friends! It’s Petra, and today, I want to talk to those of you who are new to rowing or who have been rowing but hate waiting for a borrowed boat or having to ask to use one.

Everyone would love to have a nice shell, outfitted exactly the way you want it, but the truth is that a new shell can be expensive!

In today’s article, I want to talk about the price of crew boats, the price differences between crew boats and sculling boats, and how you can save some significant cash if you do decide to buy one.

Strap on your thinking cap and get out a pen and paper. We’re going to talk numbers and what it will take for you to be the captain of your own row boat, literally!

Crew Boat Buying Guide

First, you’ll need to know if you want a crew boat for sweep rowing or sculling. Rowing boats are not all made the same!

Don’t forget that you will also need a way to store your boat (at the very least you’ll need a tarp or cover) and move it, most often with a trailer.

You’ll also need to know how many people you plan on rowing with. Is it going to be just you sculling along, or do you want a rowing boat to fit eight people?

Once you’ve answered all the above questions, you’re ready to pick out your shell!

Should You Buy New Or Used Rowing Boat?

There is no doubt that you will save a small fortune if you buy a used rowing shell. They may be hard to find, but if you keep looking, you will find what you want in time.

The most popular places to look for a used rowing shell would be the Marketplace on Facebook, Craigslist, and Row2K.com.

Lady in a white shirt carrying a rowing shell

Be sure that you know exactly what you are getting besides the shell. Inspect and ask about the following:

  • Are the oarlocks in good condition?
  • Check the seat wheels and track for signs of rust or bending.
  • Look for soft spots and any damage that might have been repaired.
  • Does it come with the oars?
  • Are the footplates included and in good condition?
  • Does it have an onboard computer or a cox box?

Remember that you are going to need a way to get your used shell back to your house or to the club, so show up with your trailer or roof rack!

Pricing on a Rowing Shell

rowing boats on the grass

Pricing will vary considerably depending on whether you are buying a single scull, double scull, or a quad.

Like new cars, you will find that some brands cost more than others. Know what your budget is and stick with it.

How Much Can You Expect to Pay?

A man wearing red and white outfit standing beside a rowing boat

You can find a single scull for about $8,000, while a good quality double scull would set you back around $10,000.

A quad will cost about $15,000. If you think that’s a lot of money, think again! The price tag for an 8-seater can be something like $50,000—now, that’s serious money!

These prices will vary considerably depending on the brand and your location. I’m sure that a shell in Nebraska will be less expensive than one in Boston.

How Can I Save Money on a Row Boat?

People fixing an 8-Person Crew Boat

There are several ways that you can cut costs when buying a rowing boat.

  1. Consider used boats. A used boat will give you terrific service for your training. On race days, you can always borrow a better-looking shell if you like. Choosing used boats is one of the best ways to reduce costs, especially if you’re new to the sport.
  2. If you buy a new boat, find out what the delivery costs will be before you make a purchase. Shipping costs are really high, and they aren’t included in the price.  You can also try to pick up the boat yourself directly from the warehouse or other locations (assuming you have a trailer or a roof rack).
  3. Build your maintenance skills. All boats require maintenance. Learn how to take care of the shell so you don’t have to pay someone else to do it for you.
  4. Buy in the fall. Yes, you may not get to enjoy your boat on the water for a few months, but it’s for this reason that boat prices drop during this time. It’s like buying a fireplace in July!
  5. Don’t forget to add in the cost of insurance and taxes. Some states require that boats be registered and taxed depending on how long you keep them in that state. If you are going to use a trailer, most states require that the trailer also be registered. Some states only make you pay a one-time fee, others have annual fees. In California, for instance, they have fees for registration every 5 years.

You can also save money by purchasing some items used or asking other rowers to help pitch in to cover the costs.

You can find life jackets, flares, first aid kits, or other safety items on sale, or you can buy them used. Except for flares, it’s perfectly fine to purchase second-hand items and devices, such as life jackets, and horns.

How Much Is an Indoor Rowing Machine?

Side view of my Hydrow Rowing Machine

Prices on indoor rowing machines vary almost as much as a rowing boats do!

You can buy a very basic indoor rowing machine for about $400.

However, if you want a top-of-the-line rowing machine that you will never get bored with, check out the new smart rowers from Hydrow or Ergatta.

Indoor rowing machines are a terrific way to stay in shape when you can’t use your rowing boat due to bad weather or when you are injured.

The Bottom Line

Is the cost of being your own boat captain (owning a rowing boat) a bit more than you imagined?

Don’t worry, this is quite common. I think a great many people don’t appreciate how much a rowing shell costs, including the “extra” fees that don’t come to mind right away (e.g., trailers and taxes)

You can save some cash by purchasing your rowing shell used and trying to find the cheapest possible option for shipping if you decide to buy a new rowing boat.

Regardless of what kind of rowing boat you decide to get, you are going to enjoy it for many, many years to come.

Have fun rowing, my friends!