Friday, August 26, 2011

NOTB - How Much Will Cruising Cost?

NKOTB (New Kids On The Boat) ... A Weekly Series Sharing Our Thoughts and Questions as Beginner Sailors and Future Cruisers.  NKOTB or Experienced Cruiser ... Tell Us Your Thoughts!

A question almost all future cruisers have is how much will cruising cost?  When trying to find the answer to this question, I often found it to be "it depends".  Cruising, like anything else, greatly depends on the person.  It makes sense that if someone spends a lot of money on land, they'll probably spend a lot of money living on a boat. I did come across a few sites that documented their cruising expenses, and while some of them made me feel confident we could cruise on our small budget ... others blew me away.  Some of these cruisers are spending way more than we currently do on land!

Ken and I have always been frugal on land, so it shouldn't be too hard to be frugal on the water.  We don't care to spend much money on tourist "traps", souvenirs or the latest fad.  We figure that when we're not doing boat chores during the day swimming, snorkeling, hiking or just exploring a new place will be pretty inexpensive.  In the evening good music with a beer or glass of wine while sitting in our cockpit should make us happy.  Although we'd love to hang out with the locals every night at the bar listening to music and making friends, our landlubber budget doesn't allow it and neither will our cruising budget.  Hopefully we'll be able to take part in those "pot-luck" dinners we keep hearing about ... and we'll "bring our own"!

A large sailboat and many nights at a marina can drain a cruising budget pretty fast.  We don't plan on staying at marinas very often, and our sailboat is considered small these days ... a 30 footer.  A smaller boat is less expensive when staying at a marina, and it's supposed to mean less maintenance costs ... we hope so!  However, just like with a house, we know that some maintenance costs are the same no matter what the size.  Luckily Ken is a contractor and really handy with fixing things.

The more "stuff" you have on a boat, the more maintenance costs and energy consumption.  We won't have a/c, and we're not sure about refrigeration and a watermaker just yet.  We'd love a watermaker, but they're not cheap!  We may trying catching our water as a supplement to buying water and see how it goes.   Ken really likes the idea of refrigeration, but it's also not cheap and consumes a good bit of energy.  I never use ice and can live off just about anything, so refrigeration isn't that important to me.  We will have solar and wind power to help maintain our energy consumption and reduce the costs. 

A really big factor in cruising costs is whether or not boat insurance and/or medical insurance are included.  These can really put a big dent in a cruising budget, and we haven't committed to one way or the other just yet.  However, we currently carry both types of insurance (with a high deductible on the medical) and it really isn't too bad.  We just haven't taken the time to look into what happens once we're in the Bahamas or Mexico.  We'll have to wait and see.

We anticipate that our biggest expense will be groceries, fuel, boat maintenance, communication, a rare trip home, and those extras like beer and wine. We saw a post from Distant Shores about the cruising budget, and they estimate that a "comfortable" cruiser can live off of $1500-$2500 a month.  We hope they're correct, and if so we aim to be on the low end of "comfortable".  Even with this figure we'll need to find a way to supplement our cruising kitty.  Ken knows construction and a good bit about boat maintenance, so his knowledge should help us make a few bucks every now and then.  We may have to bartend, babysit, etc., whatever it takes! 

We're also counting on you guys to click on our Google Ads and/or make your purchases from Amazon and our other product links from our site (on the right).  So, if you want to make an Amazon purchase,  learn a new language, make your own beer or record your own music ... purchasing them from our site will cost you the same and we'll make a few cents.  Every little bit helps!  Oh, and dare I mention it ... there's that donation button too!  =)

Until we start cruising we'll never have the answer to this question, but we know we'll make it work and the experience will be priceless!  We know this topic can be a little personal, but feel free to share!  Then we won't have to ask!  =) 

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

Note:  Here are the previous posts from this series.  Check them out and feel free to give us your advice.  We've really enjoyed reading your comments!


American Sailing Association said...

This probably is one of those topics you just have to learn by doing! But we did a blog on the cost of cruising awhile back that you might find helpful.

Drew Frye said...

I've not cruised long term, but I'll pitch in. Things that have "busted" our budget.

* Electricity. I didn't see any panels on the boat, and it's hard to stay on the hook without something to power the lights. You need to work out a power budget, but 100-200 watts is probably the relevant range.

* Allow for 3-4 budget-busters per year. Engine blows up. You see some new improvement (water maker?) you can no longer put off. Something.

* Fixing things is harder cruising than at home with a full shop. Obvious.

* If you have a schedule you will motor. If you motor the fuel bill can be an eye-opener even with a sailboat. Waiting a day for a fair wind can make a lot of sense.

* Find a fast way to get the dingy on and off. staying on the hook isn't much fun if going ashore is cumbersome.

* How long are you going? There are a lot of maintenance items that can be deferred, so if you're only going 2 years everything is less. If you go 5 years, be braced for a re-fit of sorts when you return.

I do a lot of scrounging--you can see it on my blog--but there's a lot where scrounging fails. Good luck!

Barco Sin Vela II said...

The cost of cruising? All of what ever you have plus a little more.

In my experience, watermakers are nice but the cost per gallon makes not having one more attractive. We used ocean water with a bucket-fresh water rinse.

Carry at least Liability Insurance. Some marinas or municipalities will require proof of liability insurance. It is relatively inexpensive compared to having Hull coverage and the rules on cruising areas are not as restrictive.

Buy as many cans of Hunt's Spaghetti sause as you can. Only costs 75 cents here in the U.S., about 4 bucks in the islands. Pasta is easy to store and cook. Drain the water and pour the can into the hot pasta. Done!

Everything else is a luxury!

Patricia Daspit said...

Cheryl, I could see your dad's influence over you as I read about your "frugal" ways!

Again, I know nothing about sailing, but I know a lot about writing. I'm always impressed with your writing ability. Maybe that's one way you could make some extra money -- writing articles for a sailing magazine, etc.

Knowing you and Ken as I do, you'll both do just fine. You're committed to your dream. You'll figure out what you need to know!!!

Ken n Cheryl said...

ASA ... thanks so much for the helpful post! Drew ... we will be adding solar panels and a wind generator. We'll also be adding dinghy davits and will do our best to avoid a schedule! As far at length of time cruising ... as long as it takes! Barco ... we often wonder if a water maker will be on our boat. We love the idea, but it does seem pricey! Liability insurance .. with all the sue-happy people we may not be able to afford not to have this! Canned food for dinner ... oh yeah! Pat .. thanks so much for your support!

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