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Old 28-02-2020, 19:17   #16
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

When we first started cruising my wife put $900 per month in envelopes hidden all over the boat. Our first crack at cruising was a test as much as it was a good time. We left Vancouver..sailed to Mexico, did a season there and we sailed to Hawaii and then home to Vancouver. When we got home she still had one envelope that she hadn't need to open.

We figured out very early that we had to avoid marinas as apart from the marina costs it was also the difference in lifestyle associated with marina living.
I needed to make any repairs the boat needed and some were quite a chore but I learned given enough time I could fix almost anything, sometimes the fix wasnt perfect but everything continued to work and hung in there.
We also decided to sail everywhere and never motored more than a mile or two.

I spear fished most days and usually got protein for some exercise. Our entertainment was usually potlucks with other cruisers. We hiked a lot and were in better shape than we had been in years.
Hawaii was more expensive as we had to go into a marina but we made our way to the most northern island and could anchored out there. It was a wonderful time.

I take my hate off to Mike and his bride as I suspect his $1400 bucks a month corrected for inflation is probably pretty close to our $900 bucks years ago.

I wish I could say I'm still throwing nickels around like man hole covers but alas I'd be lying, we spend more than our share these days.
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Old 28-02-2020, 19:52   #17
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

Thanks Robert. Great to hear from someone with real experience. I suspect you're right that your past costs, and my present ones, are roughly the same.

Like you say, I (we) can only do this by avoiding marinas, and also staying away from touristy areas. We do almost all our own maintenance/repair work, and we spend very little money on entertainment. We are careful with our money, but we're not anal about it.

I've always lived within my means, so when I say cruising costs what you have, I mean it. I think this applies to most ways of living.

If I had $3k/month to spend, I probably would. But I don't. And nor do a lot of cruisers we have met. People spend what they have.
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Old 28-02-2020, 20:40   #18
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

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Thanks Robert. Great to hear from someone with real experience. I suspect you're right that your past costs, and my present ones, are roughly the same.

Like you say, I (we) can only do this by avoiding marinas, and also staying away from touristy areas. We do almost all our own maintenance/repair work, and we spend very little money on entertainment. We are careful with our money, but we're not anal about it.

I've always lived within my means, so when I say cruising costs what you have, I mean it. I think this applies to most ways of living.

If I had $3k/month to spend, I probably would. But I don't. And nor do a lot of cruisers we have met. People spend what they have.
Hey Mike,
I admire your personal motivation, between motorbikes and sailboats your making it all happen and on a tight budget at that. Your bride has to be a real winner as well.
We had the pleasure of meeting two young cruisers the other evening for sundowners ..they were sailing on a 27 foot boat and I suspect that they are able to keep their costs really low as the boat size has lots to do with overall costs. So there are folks out there playing the game on a tight budget but not that many compared to the old days. Lots of old farts with deep pockets and big boats, lol.
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Old 29-02-2020, 08:53   #19
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

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Hey Mike,
I admire your personal motivation, between motorbikes and sailboats your making it all happen and on a tight budget at that. Your bride has to be a real winner as well.
We had the pleasure of meeting two young cruisers the other evening for sundowners ..they were sailing on a 27 foot boat and I suspect that they are able to keep their costs really low as the boat size has lots to do with overall costs. So there are folks out there playing the game on a tight budget but not that many compared to the old days. Lots of old farts with deep pockets and big boats, lol.
Thanks again Robert. We're having fun with this life. And yeah, my "bride" is a real winner. We're both fully engaged with this lifestyle, which is wonderful. I know it's not the norm.

It is a tight budget, but I honestly don't fret about it. Life's too short to be worrying about your shekels all the time. But to be fair, we've spent a couple of decades working up to the point. It didn't just happen. We've made choices all along, just like we currently make choices about how and where to cruise.

Good example about boat size and how it relates to keeping costs down. Going with the smallest boat you can live with makes it easier to achieve low-cost cruising. The others are, as you say, stay out of marinas and generally away from large urban areas. And doing as much as you can yourself; from boat maintenance to entertainment.

As someone who's been cruising for a long time, it's interesting to hear your observation about the decreasing proportion of people doing this on small budgets. I have my theories as to why this might be, but I'm curious what you think. Why the apparent shift to more "old farts" .
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Old 29-02-2020, 09:11   #20
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

SB - I for one find your spreadsheet extremely helpful as my wife and I prepare to take off cruising within the next year (house sale is a wild card for timing). Franky, I would have thought your costs would be lower but it seems realistic and likely what we'll see, perhaps with a couple hundred bucks a month additional for fuel.

I would enjoy seeing other similar long term cost breakdowns, but understand most do not have the detail, and those that do may not want to share in a public forum. I personally am not that good at tracking to the level of detail that SB does, but I appreciate the information.

Peter
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Old 29-02-2020, 09:29   #21
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

We sporadically posted our monthly budget over the years on our site. There were months that we only paid attention to the final outgoing figure, and didn't post those since we didn't have an accounting of where each dollar went, so there are some big holes in the information presented.

2014 was the only complete year. http://www.mjsailing.com/cos/cost-of-cruising-2014/

We've also been about as faithful reporting these numbers once a month on our videos. We were good at the beginning, but fell off once we were in areas where we had to use cash all the time instead of credit cards (we mostly used monthly credit card statements as an accounting record).

We're still about $1400 a month average. But we've done a lot more on-grid and off-grid this year, so the swing month to month is much more dramatic.

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Old 29-02-2020, 10:13   #22
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

That's a good question Mike, I'm not so sure I have the answer. You might as I know you study demographics but here is what I have observed.
When we first started cruising about 35+ years ago most cruisers were around our age and similar budgets so we had lots and lots of people to hang out with and we all had lots in common. Even at that time there were cruisers that were older than us with larger boats and bigger budgets but not that many. There were also what we called kid cruisers who were in their 20's who knew how not to spend money, it helps when you don't have any, lol. They were in old small boats with tired sails and tired everything but were fun to hang around because generally people that age just see the positive and don't dwell on the negative. Some were ocean crossers but many just hung around and went back to work once every year or two.
Another important point is that there were not that many of us back then. This is pre gps and not that many folks wanted to learn celestial navigation much less cross oceans so much smaller numbers. I'd say that most cruisers were high adventure types who wanted to see what was on the other side and were thrilled with crossing oceans.
So time marches on and then along came gps and cruising exploded. Rallies were introduced and soon tons of people wanted to get a sailboat and go cruising however most still were not endeared with crossing oceans and preferred the protected waters of the Med or Mexico, Caribbean or other coastal type cruising. During all this time along came the internet and weather forecasting that we could only dream about and it again made it easier for people to get involved with less and less preparation and knowledge than was required in the past.
Throughout this time period it seemed like everyone just sort of stayed my age and fewer and fewer young people were getting involved.
It was also getting much more expensive because in the past we would forgo luxuries like refrigeration and radar and chart plotters , watermakers etc., well in many cases they hadn't even been invented, lol but most cruisers were very minimalist at that time but today not so much so costs are way higher and maintenance and upkeep way higher. It's just a totally different experience these days. We drag our complex world around with us and its associated problems.
It would have been unheard of back then to enter a new Anchorage and not be asked to get together with anyone else that was there, these days everyone has fakebook friends and may or may not be interested in meeting you. There is also caravans of people cruising together and buddy boats that prefer their own company so while cruising is still very social it's not as social as it once was.
Anyways those are some observations...I expect that younger people are not as interested in adventure these days, they have grown up in a world where their parents protected them a little too much so risk taking is low on their list of to do's plus there are so many other fun things out there for the risk takers to do, snow boarding, mountain biking, the list goes on and they don't break the bank.
I will say this, if a child has spent a couple of years cruising with their parents then it's pretty high odds they will dream of owning a boat on day and sailing off across the horizon...you tell me?
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Old 29-02-2020, 10:41   #23
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

Its depend greatly of the localisation of the boat :
in Dakar, Sine Saloum,Casamance Sénégal or in Guinea Bijagos with 500 $ a month you are living like a king .


In méditerranea Sardinia (La Maddalena) or some place of Italy with 2500 $ you are a poor sailor ...

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Old 29-02-2020, 11:54   #24
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

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Originally Posted by funjohnson View Post
...We're still about $1400 a month average. But we've done a lot more on-grid and off-grid this year, so the swing month to month is much more dramatic.
Interesting that this is pretty much where we're at as well.

BTW, I've love to hear more about cruising in Norway. I've always thought this would be off limits for low cost cruising (given how expensive it is there in general). Maybe a new thread if you think it's worth discussing.

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Its depend greatly of the localisation of the boat :
in Dakar, Sine Saloum,Casamance Sénégal or in Guinea Bijagos with 500 $ a month you are living like a king .

In méditerranea Sardinia (La Maddalena) or some place of Italy with 2500 $ you are a poor sailor ...
Well said. Location, location, location. Clearly some areas are more expensive than others. If you want to cruise on the lower end of the cost spectrum you gotta pick where you go.

In another thread we've been comparing docking/storage fees. Mine in Newfoundland is less than 1/2 of what some others are reporting further south.
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Old 29-02-2020, 12:19   #25
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

Thanks Robert, I always appreciate your thoughtful posts. A lot to digest in there. It's interesting how you've identified technology as both an positive (makes it easier), but also a negative (increases cost).

My view is that the decline in younger cruisers is largely to do with basic economics. The "kids today" are simply less affluent than the previous few generations. I don't really want to get into a big tangent on this, but a recent study of generational wealth is the latest study to show this fact.

With reduced wealth, and perhaps more importantly, greatly reduced economic security (little job security, far more temporary, or part-time work, the so-called "gig economy," death of defined pension plans, wage stagnation, etc...), the younger generations simply don't have the ability, nor the security, to pick up and sail off for a while.

But it's interesting you bring up the declining ability to take on risk. I think there is a growing body of evidence that supports your observation. I recently read social psychologist Jonathan Haidt's recent book: The Coddling of the American Mind, where be basically argues this same point:

Quote:
they have grown up in a world where their parents protected them a little too much so risk taking is low
As with anything involving human behaviour, the real answer is complicated, and likely involves many factors. The lure of easy pleasures like video games, and the need to remain connected at all times, I'm sure also plays into it.
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Old 29-02-2020, 13:22   #26
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

Are there industry projections to support the supposition that people are sailing less today, that cruising is aging out? I've seen that stated in multiple threads lately and there's never a citation to support the hypothesis. Not saying it's not true, but I sure see a ton of YouTube channels with young folks sailing and Patreon support in the 1000s. On the west coast, the Baja Ha Ha participation has held roughly steady for years, though boat size has increased. Industry reports require a hefty fee so tough to tell. Just wondering what the supposition is based on.
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Old 29-02-2020, 13:40   #27
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

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That's a good question Mike, I'm not so sure I have the answer. You might as I know you study demographics but here is what I have observed.

When we first started cruising about 35+ years ago most cruisers were around our age and similar budgets so we had lots and lots of people to hang out with and we all had lots in common. Even at that time there were cruisers that were older than us with larger boats and bigger budgets but not that many.

There were also what we called kid cruisers who were in their 20's who knew how not to spend money, it helps when you don't have any, lol. They were in old small boats with tired sails and tired everything but were fun to hang around because generally people that age just see the positive and don't dwell on the negative. Some were ocean crossers but many just hung around and went back to work once every year or two.
In our case, we did fine on $500/mo in Mexico in 1989; but not so in French Polynesia. We sailed back and worked a little over a year and sold my house.


Another important point is that there were not that many of us back then. This is pre gps and not that many folks wanted to learn celestial navigation much less cross oceans so much smaller numbers. I'd say that most cruisers were high adventure types who wanted to see what was on the other side and were thrilled with crossing oceans. Yes, we started with celestial; but by the time we left the States again, we had sat/nav; and we were early GPS users (Gulf War time.)

So time marches on and then along came gps and cruising exploded. Rallies were introduced and soon tons of people wanted to get a sailboat and go cruising however most still were not endeared with crossing oceans and preferred the protected waters of the Med or Mexico, Caribbean or other coastal type cruising. During all this time along came the internet and weather forecasting that we could only dream about and it again made it easier for people to get involved with less and less preparation and knowledge than was required in the past. Another factor was the availability of more mod cons: radar, water makers for some, washing machines for others. But insurance was not on for just a couple in those days, so we got radar and forward looking depth sounder, bigger anchors, etc., with the money we now are compelled to spend on 3rd party insurance. Most cruisers owned their boats, too, not making payments on them.

Throughout this time period it seemed like everyone just sort of stayed my age and fewer and fewer young people were getting involved.
It was also getting much more expensive because in the past we would forgo luxuries like refrigeration and radar and chart plotters , watermakers etc., well in many cases they hadn't even been invented, lol but most cruisers were very minimalist at that time but today not so much so costs are way higher and maintenance and upkeep way higher. It's just a totally different experience these days. We drag our complex world around with us and its associated problems.

It would have been unheard of back then to enter a new Anchorage and not be asked to get together with anyone else that was there, these days everyone has fakebook friends and may or may not be interested in meeting you. There is also caravans of people cruising together and buddy boats that prefer their own company so while cruising is still very social it's not as social as it once was. One is not welcomed when one goes by in a dinghy, one is not often asked aboard, nor is it considered "normal", any more. People seem to want more privacy.

Anyways those are some observations...I expect that younger people are not as interested in adventure these days, they have grown up in a world where their parents protected them a little too much so risk taking is low on their list of to do's plus there are so many other fun things out there for the risk takers to do, snow boarding, mountain biking, the list goes on and they don't break the bank.

I will say this, if a child has spent a couple of years cruising with their parents then it's pretty high odds they will dream of owning a boat on day and sailing off across the horizon...you tell me? The ones whom we have met certainly fall in that category; and the kids are just wonderful!
Robert Tailor's summary above is pretty much what we've seen, with the exception that we noticed a huge change in cruiser behavior about 1991. That year, those cruisers had formed cliques before reaching New Zealand. They were not interested in socializing with the Kiwis. Kiwis would invite them to their boats, and no return invitations were issued. It was really a surprise, and only those of us in the cruising fleet at that time would have seen that step change.

Ann
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Old 29-02-2020, 14:06   #28
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

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Are there industry projections to support the supposition that people are sailing less today, that cruising is aging out? I've seen that stated in multiple threads lately and there's never a citation to support the hypothesis. Not saying it's not true, but I sure see a ton of YouTube channels with young folks sailing and Patreon support in the 1000s. On the west coast, the Baja Ha Ha participation has held roughly steady for years, though boat size has increased. Industry reports require a hefty fee so tough to tell. Just wondering what the supposition is based on.
I don't have it at hand Weebles, but I've looked at new boat sales and they are in a long-term decline, especially for cruising-level boats. The recent marketing spin touts increases, but it's only compared to post-2008 levels. What does appear to be increasing are small craft sales.

What I've never seen, and don't know how to get, is used boat sales numbers.
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Old 29-02-2020, 14:15   #29
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

Interesting that our two veteran cruises cite this apparent decline in the social aspect of cruising. I have no reason to doubt this, but I don't have the history to know how it used to be.

Generally cruisers seem mostly friendly and open where I've traveled, but my cruising area is quite small so far. And mostly where I've been, there aren't many other boats around to socialize with anyway, so when you do see fellow recreational boater, we're naturally drawn together.

I am amused by the apparent increasing popularity of rallies. Even on Lake Superior they held one. I've never had any interest in such a thing. I guess I can understand the attraction, but to me it seems weird and unappealing.
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Old 29-02-2020, 14:45   #30
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Re: Low Cost Cruising Details

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Robert Tailor's summary above is pretty much what we've seen, with the exception that we noticed a huge change in cruiser behavior about 1991. That year, those cruisers had formed cliques before reaching New Zealand. They were not interested in socializing with the Kiwis. Kiwis would invite them to their boats, and no return invitations were issued. It was really a surprise, and only those of us in the cruising fleet at that time would have seen that step change.

Ann
We both had similar e experiences but different nations. We dropped the hook in the Marquesas Islands after a fairly long sail across the Pacific.
I was woken up by a tapping on the hull and a smiling face..Hey we are having a potluck tomorrow at 4pm and your invited. Wonderful I answered and bent over the lifelines to shake his hand and swap names. He was from Sweden. We had a few American boats around us and I knew one of them from Mexico so I asked our host if everyone was invited and I motioned to the American boats. His answer almost floored me...absolutely not he said we want nothing to do with Americans.
OK I answered and what's behind that? Turns out it was the Gulf War and the Europeans had decided the Americans were not going to be invited..i asked him to just take a minute to hear what I had to say and he smiled and said..sure. I said ..hey these are sailors, just like you and me and are not here representing the American government, hell for all we know they may have voted against them. If your not inviting them then we don't want to be part of it either because we just don't believe in putting politics ahead of friendships..it really doesn't belong here. He left and a couple of hours later another fellow arrived and tapped on the hull. Turns out the Europeans had a meeting and decided the Americans were welcome. That's great and a very good decision, do you want me to go around and invite them...nope he said, I'll do it myself. It was a great potluck and we all made new friends but I never forgot that because it was the beginning of something that hasn't ended.
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