I'm always intrigued about cruising costs. I think it's possible to develop a budget but there are variables, such as:
1. Where are you cruising/anchoring/swallowing the hook? There are cheap places and outrageously expensive places to drop the hook (if you can).
2. Are you going across the pond or down the chain to the next island/marina/anchorage/gunk hole?
3. Are you prepared to pay the fees
to visit new places? Some countries have higher entry and exit fees
4. What are your eating habits? Do you enjoy eating simply, like/have a talent for fishing
, enjoy eating local foods or using local foods in new and interesting ways. Do you know what the bargains are in your current
location - and what to avoid?
5. Do you have skills that can offset professional services? Maintenance
done by you is going to be cheaper than hiring someone (and sometimes better quality). Do you have the proper tools to do most of the tasks?
6. Do you carry boat and medical insurance
? These two items can significantly affect your cruising budget.
7. How active are you when at an anchorage? Some folks like to poke around in the tender
, others take tours, go for walks, or dive.
8. How big is your boat? The larger the vessel the higher the costs, whether monthly or yearly.
9. Did you go KISS or bring the kitchen sink? It should come as no surprise that simpler vessels have far cheaper monthly costs (Lin & Larry Pardy have proven that).
10. Can you pass on the annual/semiannual visits home? Some folks have to go home for a variety of reasons.
11. Are you easily (and cheaply) amused? Is your idea of a great day reading a book, snorkeling, cooking
a great meal, fishing
, or listening to music
12. How self sufficient are you? Do you have a water catchment system for those rainy days? Can you lug water/fuel in 5-gallon jugs from the source to the boat? Can you live within your vessel's power limitations and still have a good time?
While I had a budget in mind, I was amazed how different the proposed expenses were compared to actual. I knew that feeding a family
of 4 isn't twice the cost of feeding 2, it is more expensive. However, they use lots more water, 12V power, and seem to be in the fridge all the time. And having good fishing skills, enjoying the challenge of cooking
local foods, or being handy doesn't add diesel
to the tank, repair that leaking sea cock, or buy another fuel filter
because the diesel
you got in the last part was mostly diesel.
Overall, I'd tend to think that $500/mo/person is low. That number may have had more credence in 2000, but not 2010. I'd be pleased to get by on $600-750/mo/person. You might get away with $1200/mo/couple, if you're happy being on board, not attending all the pot lucks, not being sun-downer central, or not buying
souvenirs, dinners, or drinks ashore.
One gotcha, based on personal experience, is don't think that if you're ahead for the quarter, you can splurge the next. I did that once to find out that after my raw water pump
died, getting what would have been a $150 part cost me $470 and 4 weeks.
But we need some kind of idea, don't we. So, I'd suggest the following:
1. When on the boat, keep track of _every_ expense.
2. Keep a detailed record
3. Understand that a weekend aboard will probably bear no resemblance to a month aboard, cruising, and visiting different ports/countries.
4. A month's receipts have no correlation to a year's receipts.
5. Take the annual maintenance expenses (zincs, bottom paint
, hull cleaning
, filters, life raft inspections, fire extinguisher checks/replacements, safety items, etc.) and divide that by 10, not 12.
6. Don't forget that things break, including you. Boat bites, cuts, scratches, medical
problems and the like need attention.
7. You might think that the first year cruising will be the cheapest but I found out it was the 2nd and 3rd that was far more realistic. It took time for me to adjust to the cruising lifestyle, develop good habits, and stick to the budget. Planning ahead is nice but there are times when it's an exercise if futility or aggravation. I learned what items seemed to wear out the fastest (raw water impellers, fresh water pump rebuild
kits and motors, head parts
, etc.) and which ones seemed to last forever. I adjusted my inventory to carry more of those spares rather than others.
Finally, not having a budget shouldn't prevent or deter you from cruising. Cruising costs what it costs. You should have a rough idea but be prepared to modify your expectations and life style to align the two. Spending more than you make may be common for governments but the rest of us have learned to live within our means. Cruising is worth the uncertainty.