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Old 19-06-2021, 18:53   #1
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Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

Ahoy!

I'm a landlubber just getting into sailing. I have three years to become a more competent sailor before starting this adventure. I'm day sailing about once a week with friends in the Los Angeles area and will start helping with boat maintenance. I won't bore the group by asking what "bluewater" boat I should buy. I will bore the group with a budget question.

Brief: Is $70k to get started and $3k per month enough to cruise the Caribbean?

I'm 56 years old, penciling out a budget for a post-retirement cruise starting in 3-4 years. I want to be reasonable and say I'll commit to sailing for 1-2 years and then decide if I want to keep going or try something different. My health is good now but I'm aware that people age and have surprises so I want to do this immediately upon retirement when my chances of strength and health are greatest.
I've read enough posts and "for sale" ads to see it's common to sink $50k of upgrades into a $40k boat and have it worth $30k at the end. Therefore I will be pessimistic and say that after 2 years my "investment" is worth nothing. For purposes of this exercise let's assume zero inflation- use 2021 U.S. dollars.

My "dream" is to retire, sell my home in California, buy a condo with the proceeds and rent it out. Then head to the east coast or Caribbean and buy a sailboat. Spend some time getting it ready then spend a few months learning the boat in whatever local waters I purchased it. After that spend at least a year sailing and exploring various Caribbean locations. Then either continue, find a new home port, or decide that was enough sailing and go back to the mainland.

I'm doing this budget exercise now before getting too caught up in the romance of sailing the seas to see if it is actually affordable.

Budget basics (in 2021 U.S. $):
$70,000 (ideal) to $100,000 initial expenditures. To include:
$3,000 Monthly budget:
  • After income taxes and "at home" expenses.
  • Not including health insurance.
  • Not including occasional trips home (by air).
  • Should include all regular day-to-day expenses.
  • Should include routine maintenance and replacing worn equipment.

These numbers would let me do this adventure and if I decide it isn't for me, or the boat is lost/stolen/worthless I can go back to land and resume a more normal retirement. Another option is to spend more upfront (better condition or newer boat), insure it well, and assume I'll get some back it I sell it.

I'm a DIY'er and have worked on cars, motorcycles, built an epoxy/plywood kayak, lots of repair work at home, wired a house, extensive experience with RV 12 volt systems. I expect to do much routine maintenance and minor repairs myself. That said I want to sail and cruise with a safe, reliable boat- not a project that sits in the boatyard.

Note that I didn't specify the boat- that will depend on the budget and what's available at the time. I'm assuming it will be a monohull in the 30-35' range, probably 20-40 years old. Suitable for a new sailor in somewhat shallow waters, anchored out more than at paid moorings or marinas. It will mostly be myself with help for long passages (at least at first) and 1-2 family members for the occasional vacation week or two.

Is this budget reasonable? I realize most people posing questions like this probably never follow through so thank you for your indulgence.
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Old 19-06-2021, 21:57   #2
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Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

My opinion. For a 35 -50k boat you will need to replace all the electronics, all the sails, all the running and standing rigging. So the reason that I say this is that is that the boat you are likely to find is the one that has stopped being a pleasure to the current owner. He/She knows that the rig needs replaced, always questions whether there is one more season left in the sails, and the electronics are a few versions/models old and are not as efficient as the current offerings. Batteries are dying, radar sucks too much power, no AIS and the chartplotter has a LCD screen of grey shading. Oh and the cushions look and smell like something from the 70's.

Not that there is anything wrong with that boat.

Your $3k budget seems in line with what others do, but thats entirely up to your ability and willingness to live to a budget. Marinas are comfortable yet expensive.

Looking at your numbers specifically the 2 bullets on maintenance 0-25 and electronics 0-10, be prepared for that to double.
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Old 19-06-2021, 22:02   #3
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Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

Your post sounds like you are pretty committed and have thought things through to your own satisfaction. That's all you really need.
Your monthly expenses have a lot of not-including in them, including not counting non-routine maintenancem trips home, health insurance, boat insurance. So it is not really a budget, in that sense.

Since you are in LA don't leave out Pacific Mexico as a place to look for boats and start your cruising life. Easy cruising, easy provisioning, lots of cruising boats for sale, etc.
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Old 20-06-2021, 05:38   #4
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Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

Hi Again, Which!

(You don't waste any time, do you? )

Here are a couple of useful threads as to monthly cruising costs:

CF Member Cthoops posts monthly:
Our Cruising Costs - Month 30
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...at-248160.html
and
CF Member sailorboy1 also posts monthly:
Month 57 Expenses of Cruising
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...at-252044.html

Hope this helps with your budgeting,
Warmly,
LittleWing77
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Old 20-06-2021, 06:05   #5
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Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

HI

I think your budget is off a bit for boat purchase. Living, well its all about how lifestyle. No marinas, and living simply you can do it for a lot less than a 3k a month.

At the moment the the market is very slim, i think you'll struggle to find something decent in that price range, be prepared for lots of projects.

Pacific Mexico is a good suggestion.

Good luck
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Old 20-06-2021, 08:02   #6
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pirate Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

Yes I think you can do it fairly easily.. now you have to bear in mind I am not your average American cruiser but a Brit 'Can Do' type.. to many naysayers with their individual limitations and fears..
3K a month you can live pretty well.. Sailor boy is doing around that for two people and he's not exactly stinting.
The only electrics you need are a wind/speed/depth log, a good VHF, 2 way AIS, and a basic laptop chart plotter system.
A few examples of whats currently on the market that I consider perfect..

https://www.sailboatlistings.com/view/91662

https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/198...er-37-3621192/

This one is because I think she's gorgeous and at that price change to spend where needed..

https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/198...is-36-3705077/

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Old 20-06-2021, 08:21   #7
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Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

I, like Boatman, am a minimalistic Brit. Lots of good boats in your price range providing you go for sea-worthiness and not bling.

Easier to learn in the Keys, Bahamas and then moving on to the Caribbean.

https://www.saltydawgsailing.org/


Crewing on the Caribbean 1500 or the Salty Dawg is a good way to get experience.






Good luck and I sent a PM
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Old 20-06-2021, 09:18   #8
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Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

Charter a boat in say the BVI for a couple of weeks and see if you like it. There are many boats abandoned all over the world by people who found that cruising was not for them.
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Old 20-06-2021, 09:27   #9
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Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

Sure, it's reasonable; more than reasonable ... as long as your lifestyle is also equally "reasonable." Heck, if I had your money I'd throw mine away . (My spouse and I live on roughly 1/2 of that amount).

My question would be, how do you live now? What lifestyle are you accustomed to? Despite all the visions of how we'd like ourselves to be, my observation is that most people don't change that much when they move on board. So if you currently live a rich lifestyle on land, then expect to do so on the water. If you current live modestly, then you will find it easy to carry that on as well.

If you do live the typical immodest landlubber lifestyle, and you truly want to transition to something else, then don't wait to get a boat. Do it now. Move into a small space, and live on your expected budget. Do it in steps if need be, but don't just wait to the magic moment when you're retired.

People don't change overnight (and most don't change at all), so if you're serious about a modest post-retirement lifestyle, start now.
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Old 20-06-2021, 10:04   #10
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Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

Thanks everyone for the comments

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogscout View Post
My opinion. For a 35 -50k boat you will need to replace all the electronics, all the sails, all the running and standing rigging. ....

...
Thanks. Those numbers were very seat of the pants. I obviously have time to research a lot more. Luckily my budget has some flexibility and I'm not buying in the current "Zombie apocalypse" seller's market.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
...
Your monthly expenses have a lot of not-including in them, including not counting non-routine maintenance, trips home, health insurance, boat insurance. So it is not really a budget, in that sense.

Since you are in LA don't leave out Pacific Mexico as a place to look for boats and start your cruising life. Easy cruising, easy provisioning, lots of cruising boats for sale, etc.
Regarding my monthly $3k budget I should have been more clear. $3k is the cruising and boat-related budget after having already covered taxes, trips home, and US health insurance.

Regarding starting with Pacific Mexico- It's definitely an option but I've traveled there by land a bit. The Caribbean is difficult to move around without a boat. I've been on a few cruise ships which whet my appetite for more than 6 hours at a time at the most crowded spot on each island!

On the other hand...
Based on my limited experience over a few decades- Most Southern California boats have a very easy life other than sun damage. Mild temperatures, light winds, dry air, etc. They seem to spend most of the time in their slips. Last Sunday- a beautiful day- we only saw 5 other sailboats in the south 1/2 of Santa Monica Bay. The suggestions to start from here would definitely let me take my time shopping, outfitting, etc.

Lots to think about.
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Old 20-06-2021, 10:58   #11
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Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I am not your average American cruiser but a Brit 'Can Do' type..
Well of course you can...you save on all those expensive dentists.

No but seriously, that's a pretty reasonable overall budget. There are some items I would suggest a bit higher and some I would suggest lower but if you watch what you spend, it's pretty doable with that budget.

Obviously, you can spend more (you can also spend less). That's what we wound up with and no we didn't have to replace the electronics, sails, rigging and other expensive items. One thing we found is make a list and do the drop dead must have items (such as safety) and then get out cruising and do the rest as time allows. We found probably 2/3 of our list turned out to be unimportant and we never did do them.
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Old 20-06-2021, 11:00   #12
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Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhichCoast View Post
Ahoy!

I'm a landlubber just getting into sailing. I have three years to become a more competent sailor before starting this adventure. I'm day sailing about once a week with friends in the Los Angeles area and will start helping with boat maintenance. I won't bore the group by asking what "bluewater" boat I should buy. I will bore the group with a budget question.

Brief: Is $70k to get started and $3k per month enough to cruise the Caribbean?

I'm 56 years old, penciling out a budget for a post-retirement cruise starting in 3-4 years. I want to be reasonable and say I'll commit to sailing for 1-2 years and then decide if I want to keep going or try something different. My health is good now but I'm aware that people age and have surprises so I want to do this immediately upon retirement when my chances of strength and health are greatest.
I've read enough posts and "for sale" ads to see it's common to sink $50k of upgrades into a $40k boat and have it worth $30k at the end. Therefore I will be pessimistic and say that after 2 years my "investment" is worth nothing. For purposes of this exercise let's assume zero inflation- use 2021 U.S. dollars.

My "dream" is to retire, sell my home in California, buy a condo with the proceeds and rent it out. Then head to the east coast or Caribbean and buy a sailboat. Spend some time getting it ready then spend a few months learning the boat in whatever local waters I purchased it. After that spend at least a year sailing and exploring various Caribbean locations. Then either continue, find a new home port, or decide that was enough sailing and go back to the mainland.

I'm doing this budget exercise now before getting too caught up in the romance of sailing the seas to see if it is actually affordable.

Budget basics (in 2021 U.S. $):
$70,000 (ideal) to $100,000 initial expenditures. To include:
  • $30k-$50k boat purchase.
  • $5k survey, haul out, initial professional maintenance and minor repairs.
  • $5k travel and living expenses until I can move aboard.
  • $0k to $25k major deferred maintenance and upgrades such as paint, rigging, sails, canvas, engine, tender, etc.
  • $0k to $10k electronics and self steering upgrades.
  • $3k personal and safety- life preservers, PLB, float coat, foulies, etc.
  • $5k training, licensing, delivery captain if purchase location isn't suitable for my skill level.

$3,000 Monthly budget:
  • After income taxes and "at home" expenses.
  • Not including health insurance.
  • Not including occasional trips home (by air).
  • Should include all regular day-to-day expenses.
  • Should include routine maintenance and replacing worn equipment.

These numbers would let me do this adventure and if I decide it isn't for me, or the boat is lost/stolen/worthless I can go back to land and resume a more normal retirement. Another option is to spend more upfront (better condition or newer boat), insure it well, and assume I'll get some back it I sell it.

I'm a DIY'er and have worked on cars, motorcycles, built an epoxy/plywood kayak, lots of repair work at home, wired a house, extensive experience with RV 12 volt systems. I expect to do much routine maintenance and minor repairs myself. That said I want to sail and cruise with a safe, reliable boat- not a project that sits in the boatyard.

Note that I didn't specify the boat- that will depend on the budget and what's available at the time. I'm assuming it will be a monohull in the 30-35' range, probably 20-40 years old. Suitable for a new sailor in somewhat shallow waters, anchored out more than at paid moorings or marinas. It will mostly be myself with help for long passages (at least at first) and 1-2 family members for the occasional vacation week or two.

Is this budget reasonable? I realize most people posing questions like this probably never follow through so thank you for your indulgence.
This all sounds reasonable. The Caribbean is a good place if you're set on soloing - plenty of short hops. Just remember, when you go to buy the boat, the one that costs a bit more but is well fitted out is usually the better deal. Your most cost effective upgrades are those done by the previous owner. 3K a month is not too far off of what Sailorboy1 reports and he's got two people and a bit larger boat - he seems like he keeps up with the maintenance as opposed to letting things slide in that budget. There are those that do it for a lot less, but he seems to be comfortable while not being overly extravagant.
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Old 20-06-2021, 11:40   #13
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Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhichCoast View Post
Thanks everyone for the comments



Thanks. Those numbers were very seat of the pants. I obviously have time to research a lot more. Luckily my budget has some flexibility and I'm not buying in the current "Zombie apocalypse" seller's market.




Regarding my monthly $3k budget I should have been more clear. $3k is the cruising and boat-related budget after having already covered taxes, trips home, and US health insurance.

Regarding starting with Pacific Mexico- It's definitely an option but I've traveled there by land a bit. The Caribbean is difficult to move around without a boat. I've been on a few cruise ships which whet my appetite for more than 6 hours at a time at the most crowded spot on each island!

On the other hand...
Based on my limited experience over a few decades- Most Southern California boats have a very easy life other than sun damage. Mild temperatures, light winds, dry air, etc. They seem to spend most of the time in their slips. Last Sunday- a beautiful day- we only saw 5 other sailboats in the south 1/2 of Santa Monica Bay. The suggestions to start from here would definitely let me take my time shopping, outfitting, etc.

Lots to think about.
The big downside with getting a boat in L.A. (aside from the extra cost) is the fact that you'll need an act of God to find a reasonable slip around here. Ventura is probably your best bet but as you know that's a fair way up the coast via the busiest freeway on the planet. If you don't mind the drive, getting a boat now is not a terrible idea as long as you can get to it and it just doesn't sit there month after month. OPB is probably the better way to go for now.
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Old 20-06-2021, 13:47   #14
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Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lamadriver View Post
HI

I think your budget is off a bit for boat purchase. Living, well its all about how lifestyle. No marinas, and living simply you can do it for a lot less than a 3k a month.

At the moment the the market is very slim, i think you'll struggle to find something decent in that price range, be prepared for lots of projects.

Pacific Mexico is a good suggestion.

Good luck
I'm going to have to disagree here, I have a slip in Key West for $378 a month including electric and water. If you spending winters in the Bahamas and enjoy anchoring out, you can easily be under 3k per month. Of course if you want to beer in a marina every night, partying at the clubs/bars, eating out all the time it will not work.
Your doing it right, plan, look for a good deal on a boat but understand all boats will need something.
Good luck and enjoy!
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Old 20-06-2021, 14:09   #15
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Re: Reality check for future solo cruising budget- $70k to start and $3k/month?.

"Buying a condo and renting it out" - even if you have friends to 'maybe take care of it' I recommend using an agent (they normally take 15% of the rent) to vet the prospective tenants, set up contracts, take the rent etc.. You will be far from home, cruising in style, and you don't need any rental headaches. I rented my house for 6 years whilst cruising and a good agent to me was priceless.
One point to have written into your contract upfront - if you agree to a sitting tenant buying the place, the agent will want a piece so negotiate the smallest percentage you can agree on.
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