Thursday, October 27, 2016

Year Three Reflections On The Cost-Of-Cruising


I never learn.  Last year when I posted our total Cruising Costs I said... "We've spent a LOT of money on upgrades this summer.  But our hope is that when we leave the dock later this month, we will be good for a while"...

Yes.  That is what I said.  And this year when I saw the total, I thought once again that my own words have been used to slap me silly!!!

But when you look at the breakdown, there isn't any one thing that really stands out.  The boat insurance was double because of the timing... we paid it at the beginning of this year and again at the end because we paid it a bit early.

We no longer have a car, so there are no expenses for that this year, but we have a home and the costs to insure it should not be considered for Cruisers who don't plan on keeping a home so I have removed those.

But otherwise, I would say that our costs this year are realistic for a couple cruising on a boat similar in size to ours who have "Normal Cruising-Life Expectations".

But what does that mean?  What is "normal"? For us it means that this is our life.  We aren't on a "trip".  We don't expect to be out here for a year, or two years, and then return to what we left behind. In fact, our mindset has shifted during this last year.  When we left the US we were still "on our way to somewhere".  We had a destination in mind and we were sort of in a hurry to get there.

Edited to remove House Expense
It's difficult to even quantify that to someone not in this situation...  Everyone asks us "Where are you going next?".  And we've always had an answer...  When we arrived here in Salinas for the summer, we really HAD no answer to that question.  We had several options in mind, but had no definite plan.

At some point in the summer I realized that we have truly adjusted to life as Cruisers.  We are just out here doing whatever we feel like today, and that our plans are completely fluid.  Of course we must have SOME sort of idea in mind that helps us to make  our daily decisions... and we do... but it is completely open ended.

The transition has been so insidious and sneaky, that we were truly amazed when we realized that in the past 6 months we have been within about a 160 mile area.  We arrived to Puerto Rico on April 4th and have not been further than Anegada in the last six months!  We've just been moving around the area at leisure, not hot to get anywhere...  And it feels nice!

This is where we live... No more do we save up our visits to the Doctor or the Dentist for when we get back to the US.  No more do we need to provision for end-of-times... we just buy groceries like everyone else!  Well maybe not entirely, there ARE places in which groceries cost less than others we will visit soon, so we do sort of stock up...  But there will be another place along the way soon where we can re-stock again...  We've also been buying things from Amazon Prime because they DO ship to Puerto Rico and it's just so easy!

But back to the question:  What IS normal?

I would say that it is splitting the time between anchoring, mooring and marina stays.  Sure we love being at anchor, but there are lots of places that being near the "action" means paying for a mooring.  For us it means that we get a slip either for a day, a week, a month or longer whenever we feel the need.  It is just much easier to do repairs or host visitors while in a slip.  We have made a habit of finding a reasonably priced slip in which to spend the hot summer months.  There's no need to languish on the boat, sweltering and sweating profusely when we can plug in and be comfortable all summer long.  We aren't masochists and there are no prizes for martyrdom out here...

We rent the occasional car both for running crucial errands and just for fun.  We do some touristing and we eat out when we want, which I will admit is not really that often...

Is it possible to forego these pleasures and get by more economically?  Sure it is... but this is our life.

So... take a look at the breakdown below... and see how we spent almost $50,000 this year!  <gulp>

And because I never learn... I'm going to say it once more... I HOPE we will get through year four on less... wish us luck!

Oh, and because I nearly gave somebody a heart attack... Cruising costs can vary widely for different size/type boats.  We cruise a 1995 Catalina Morgan 45'.

Answers to questions received:

What's in Technology?  That's where I put things like iPad navigation apps and purchased electronic charts.  This year the biggie was for a new Mac computer.

The liquor bill is ridiculously low, what's up with that?  The liquor category on the spreadsheet only includes liquor purchased independently.  In the islands, hard liquor is mostly purchased in grocery stores and I'm not going to pick my grocery bills apart.  So it looks like we don't buy much, when actually it's hiding in the grocery category.

Tips?  The tip category only includes those handed over in cash and does not count what's on our dining out and bar tabs, so tips we have paid are really more.

Edited to remove house expenses


25 comments:

  1. Desperately going through your numbers hoping some of them will not apply to us. We sure won't have $50,000 a year to spend. But it does add up fast, doesn't it.

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    1. It really does...when you look at the individual items it doesn't seem like much...but altogether it is amazing!

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  2. Thanks for sharing such a detailed look at what you spend on cruising. It's really helpful!

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    1. You're welcome and thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

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  3. just curious what does the cost of technology makeup?

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    1. That's where I put things like digital charts and navigational apps and such. The big month was the new Mac computer. Thanks for visiting the blog!

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  4. Great information. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. You're welcome and thanks for checking out our blog!

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  5. Tammy, I remember looking at your numbers last year and thinking "that's crazy!" Especially since we sold our house. However, as we enter year 2, they aren't that far off from us. Some numbers differ--more alcohol, less travel off boat--but I'm afraid our total is close. I don't see any areas we could have cut back considering the area we travelled in (funny how we worry about the cost of water & public transportation when they're such a small part of the budget!). I see a part-time job in my future, but the adventure has been worth every penny and we'll stay out as long as it's fun! (PS maintenance on the RV has been significantly less for the first 4 months than our "very good condition" boat. Boats are so needy!)

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    1. So that's another vote FOR Rving? Our alcohol number includes only that purchased separately. It doesn't count what we bought in grocery stores, which is where most of ours comes from since they sell booze everywhere! No way I'm dividing up the grocery bill! I promise we are spending less time in marinas this year!

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  6. I retired very young to go sailing. We've been cruising offshore of and on for 15 years. We cruised for three years in Central America and averaged $1000 per month. Most of the boats traveling with us spent about the same. That was for an old 50 foot mono.

    In the Bahamas and Eastern Caribbean boats seem to spend a lot more but we don't. We like living the cruising live more then the liveaboard a boat in a foreign city life. It's really cheap to dive a reef and anchor off an atol. I have had my boat for 25 years and know her well. I do all my own work, that saves a lot.

    Everyone should live the life they like but I just wanted to state you can do this for much less and not discourage those that might be put off by the cost of your style of cruising.

    Clark and Emily svTemptress

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    1. It has never been my intension to discourage anyone from going cruising...far from it. What I am doing here is providing a real accounting of our expenses. Your words: living the cruising life more than living aboard in a foreign country is interesting. In my mind it sounds like I'm hearing a hard core cruising elitist putting me down for having a different experience from the one of which you approve. I'm happy that you and so many others can live on $1,000 per month. However, I share so much of our experiences so that others can see how we live. If our cruising experience is what they are looking to achieve, this is what it might cost. It's awesome that you can fix everything yourself, I wish I had your talent, I truly do. We do what we can and hire the rest, hopefully providing someone else the ability to put food on a table. Thank you for sharing your experience and I would be happy to share your link to your published expenditures for comparison.

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  7. Can't believe you're already starting year 4! Thanks for sharing this info ... we need to cut this in half! =)

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    1. Time flies! Better hurry up and get out here! Your boat is smaller and you're doing so much to it before you leave. You've been practicing being frugal for years so you know what it takes. The most important think is to know yourself.

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  8. Thanks for sharing. We spend about $60,000 per year when we are cruising. Jan's medical insurance is easily the largest expense. I am on Medicare. We spend a lot on liquor, but not too much on dining. Diesel costs are greater now that we have the larger engine. Capital expenses on the boat are probably the biggest "surprise." For us they have reliably averaged 10% of the purchase price of the boat without fail for 25 years. There does not seem to be any way out of this cost. Just saying.

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    1. It's amazing isn't it? We think we're living relatively frugally until we add it all up... Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing your costs. I see great value in seeing everyone's costs: high, low, and average, and not everyone is as transparent about what they've spent.

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    1. I appreciate your comment. I see no reason to hide reality. It would be a huge disservice to run around saying that you can live on love of this life. There are unforeseen costs and it is difficult to anticipate everything. You must know yourself and your own limitations when it comes to "roughing it". We have given up so many comforts but it is still not an inexpensive way to live without giving up more. I feel that an unrealistic expectation about the real cost of cruising is how we end up with so many boats for sale and "derelict" boats everywhere we go. It takes complete commitment but the rewards are many. You decide what you can and cannot live without.

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  10. Thank you for sharing your costs as it is very helpful. I rarely see any input from power boats who cruise and enjoy this lifestyle. Not quite sure how much more it might be, fuel being the obvious difference of course. I look forward to sharing my costs in the future when we get to this lifestyle. Thanks again.

    Cheers
    Ray

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    1. We see comparatively few trawlers and really no powerboats as we range further from the US. Not knowing what sort of powerboat you mean I can't really comment, but other than Megayachts there are far more sailing yachts cruising where we are. We met one couple on a cruising powerboat, not a trawler and they were in the DR on the south side and they asked us about where they could buy fuel further west from where we had just arrived. We knew of no place a boat could pull alongside to refuel...only a couple of places to carry jerry jugs. It might be a huge issue for boats that need large amounts of fuel but can't go the distance between appropriate fueling facilities. Maybe this is doable in a trawler but yes, the fuel is expensive in some places and perhaps of poor quality in others. Trawler people we've met in the Bahamas expressed an aversion to offshore passages unless they get really perfect conditions, which is more limiting as well. Ok, that's all I've got but thank you for posting your comment! And for reading our blog!

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  11. All I can say is thank you. We are planning to cruise full time in 3 years and really need to be realistic about what we will spend. Our boat is new and we keep her well maintained. That should help when we start out. Again, thank you.

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    1. You are welcome! It's people like you that we do this for! Having a new boat should help barring damage from storms or collision with hard stuff but my advice would be to do lots of "shake-down" cruising nearby and really use your boat a lot to work through all of the systems. We knew a friend who bought a new boat on our dock back home. He had more issues with his boat than we did with our 20 year old boat. I'm not trying to sound pessimistic but...take the wrapper off and use it hard while you're still under warranty and close to easy repair/parts access. Thank you for reading and for your comment! And good luck to you! Three years will be gone on a flash...so much to do!

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  12. I'm going to be heading-out for 'part time' cruising (I work offshore rotations, and will be changing job rotos to 2 months on/off). I certainly appreciate the realistic and honest breakdown that you've presented; thanks!

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  13. Bruce & Tammy,, that you for sharing such valuable info. I'm looking at moving onboard in the next year or two and have been diligently filling in my projected spreadsheet costs for the last several months. Getting real costs from cruisers is difficult to come by. No matter how I slice it and dice it, I keep coming up with pretty much the same numbers you published, which tells me that my projections are right in the pocket. Having averaged roughly 43k in living expenses for the last several years, it's reassuring to know that I can live and cruise for the same annual costs. Given the option, I would rather cruise than live high and dry In the middle of Colorado. Thanks again for sharing. Wish you two the very best, and hope we cross paths some day. Fair winds��

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  14. Thank you for such a very detailed list. Nice list to budget around. Will liveaboard in 2 years and lots to consider money wise. Thanks

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