...I still dont think a family of 4 would need a watermaker for coastal cruising...
I think it is necessary for people to differentiate between live aboard at the dock vs cruising. Big difference in lifestyles and costs
Let me take this backwards. I think that one reason this thread goes all over the place is that our assumptions of the definition of "cruising" is all over the map. Perhaps a better way to phrase the question would be:
If I want to:
- Live aboard and occasionaly sail in the local area
- Live aboard and travel the East or West Coast of the US
- Live aboard and "snowbird" to the Caribbean
- World cruise or circumnavigate
what is a reasonable budget?
I budget about $2500 per month which includes a substantial reserve for the unexpected. I have crossed the Atlantic twice and intend to cross the Pacific in the near future. I just spent $1500 (3 months budget on $500 per month) to have my life raft serviced. There are times when I spend no money but beat the hell out of the boat (like crossing from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean.) There are times when I spend a lot of money and don't do much sailing (like when I am repairing the boat after crossing the Atlantic.) There are expensive cruising grounds (Guadeloupe) and cheap cruising grounds (Montserrat.) Over the course of 4+ years $2500 on a 42 foot sailboat is what turns out to be my expense profile. That cost includes upgrades to the boat - some quite expensive (e.g. Monitor Wind Vane steering device) and a couple of unexpected repairs (like dragging in a freak thunderstorm and destroying my rudder and needing to repair my sails after another freak storm.)
I have a lot of equipment on my boat that a coastal cruiser can do without: Marine/Ham MF/HF radio, the Monitor, Solar Panels, watermaker, radar, dual chart plotters, XM Radio weather subscription, satellite telephone, etc.) They all cost money both to acquire and to keep in repair. I also have a lot of redundancy. Two autopilots - the vane and electric. Four VHF radios. Dual rather than one chart plotter. Would I want to solo across an ocean without them? No. That is why I have them.
Money is a limiting factor in world cruising. If one's dream includes circumnavigation ("those far away places with the strange sounding names"
) or even significant island hopping in the Caribbean and East coast of North/Central America rather than staying at one's favorite sheltered anchorage and day sailing it is going to cost a lot more. Just three costs: charts, cruising guides, and country clearances can add up to quite a dent in your monthly budget. The world is also a far less financially friendly place then it was a decade or two ago. Many countries are enforcing length of stay restrictions (Europe for non-Europeans and the US for non-US boats.) The places one goes (such as Turkey) when one has to leave have caught on and raised their prices. Not to mention the occasional "Government sweeps" that seem to pick up boats at random and impound them as happened in Mexico last month. See http://www.cruisingworld.com/news/th...o-hits-the-fan
A big unexpected expense for 338 cruisers. The golden lining, if there is one, is that world cruisers are, if it is possible, even more supportive of each other than in the past. Sharing or passing down cruising guide, charts, etc. has always been the norm. It is more important now than ever.
Fair winds and following seas.