Thats a good question. I'm looking to save up around £650. The breakdown of how that's spent is as follows:
The boat itself will be around £350. Don't snigger those of you with pristine marina-moored mega-bucks Gin-palaces, there are very seaworthy boats out there available for that sort of price. I have seen boats complete with sails and all fixtures and fittings (excluding the engine of course) go for that sort of money.
Don't forget our ancestors went to sea in boats we wouldn't consider fit for use as tenders these days. A bit of savvy seamanship will overcome the need for bells and whistles. A sturdy hull, strong fittings and a decent set of sails is the minimum prerequisite. Anything else is just the icing on the cake.
Of course you have to know what you're looking for in terms of the boat design itself as there are some turkeys out there that don't handle so well. The material the boat is made from is also crucial. The skint sailor will not be buying a wooden boat as the associated maintenance costs are beyond me. I want something low-maintenance.
I also want a bilge keeler, something that will take the ground easily and stay upright when grounded. This is because tidal mud moorings are that much cheaper than those that afford access at all states of tide.
Any work on the boat will be done by myself. I've worked on radios, computers, cars, bikes and boats before. I know my way around when it comes to electronics, engines, epoxy, glassfibre and all the other skills you need to maintain a boat and more essentially, keep it reliable. Many, many years ago, when I had the money, I used to own an American powerboat so I know how easily boats can sap money from your bank account.
The engine can be a major part of the boat's expense, so real savings can be made here if you can find the right engine at the right price. As I'm talking about the boat and engine separately, that means that another prerequisite is outboard power.
It would be nice to find a £350 boat with an engine (and I have seen them go on eBay), but they are an extremely rare beast. More likely I'm going to have to pick up a cheap outboard of some description and fettle it until it (a) runs and (b) runs reliably. If I just happen to find a boat with an engine at my price, then the outboard becomes a reliable backup engine.
Anyway fixed inboard engines ramp up the initial price of the boat and also add to the maintenance regime and cost. Seacocks, Gearboxes, stuffing boxes and stern glands are not for me. The hull will be simple with the minimum of holes in it. So lets see, probably another £100-£150 budget for the engine.
I'm on a mission to prove that skinflint sailing is possible and just as rewarding with a poverty price tag.