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  #21  
Old 01-29-2014
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Re: $3000/mo cruising budget

Awesome thread.
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  #22  
Old 01-30-2014
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Re: $3000/mo cruising budget

The honest and open discussion about actually cruising costs is refreshing. I too have been frustrated with the "it depends" response and I've been (slowly) working on collecting actual data from various cruising blogs (especially families) as there is far too much anecdotal evidence and built-in assumptions. Perhaps we could collectively put together and share spreadsheets with collected/contributed data via Google Docs or similar.

One big issue I've noticed is separation of true living expenses and amortization of big costs. For example, suppose someone choose to spend 15k for a piece of equipment to upgrade the boat. Totally skews the yearly outlay. Was it necessary? Just for comfort? Was it unique to the boat or preparation (e.g. could one pay more up front for the boat and not have to put that money out as part of yearly costs).

Also, some costs don't scale with the number of people so it doesn't matter if its a solo sailor or a family of 10. Others are directly correlated to people so it matters if its just a couple vs a family.

Settling on a set of categories might be helpful too. Is beer food? Fuel? or does it deserve its own category?

Thanks to everyone who is contributing real experiences and data with cruising costs. Makes the dream of cruising seem possible and helps others develop plans.

Josh
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  #23  
Old 01-30-2014
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Re: $3000/mo cruising budget

Very much appreciated Zephyr's input. Counter argument is wait until you need it before putting major improvements. First year with our boat was coastal with some multi day hops. Both my wife and I continued to work. Had no need for generator or watermaker or Sat phone. Installation about the same cost if done before or after building as builder put in appropriate electrical/plumbing knowing they were going in at a later date. This allows funds to grow until expenditure required.
Had ssb and all electronics installed with building in hopes of ridding of gremlins and learning use before taking off. Held off on satphone as believe prices will fall and technology improve.
Had detachable storm jib set up after building as wanted to research exactly ho to do it but deck fitting installed with building.
In short would advise improvements should be done after you are comfortable you have made the right decision and just before you actually need them even if this means it will be done after salary tap has been turned off. Still agree the should budget before hand.
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  #24  
Old 01-30-2014
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Re: $3000/mo cruising budget

Quote:
Originally Posted by engineer_sailor View Post
One big issue I've noticed is separation of true living expenses and amortization of big costs. For example, suppose someone choose to spend 15k for a piece of equipment to upgrade the boat. Totally skews the yearly outlay. Was it necessary? Just for comfort? Was it unique to the boat or preparation (e.g. could one pay more up front for the boat and not have to put that money out as part of yearly costs).
Josh
An excellent point. Let me expand by pointing out that one's risk profile can have a major impact on costs. I just paid the 5 year maintenance bill on my life raft - $1,700. When we popped the raft at Vane Brothers it appeared to be immaculate. Why the cost? Because just about everything in the raft was out of date - emergency food, first aid kit, flares, etc. The hydrostatic release was replaced. Of course the inflation cylinder needed to be replaced too. Could I have gone 6, 7, 10, 15 years without doing this maintenance? Sure. Would the raft have been OK if I needed it. Most likely. But my personal risk profile said "pay the money." Since I solo sail I have an immersion suit as a backup. Do I need it? Knowing it is on board makes me feel a lot more comfortable.

Sometimes a major expenditure turns out to be a risk mitigator. I had a factory installed autopilot on board. Since I do long distance cruising and power is always a problem during the winter months (the solar panels just don't get that much sun) I installed a Monitor wind steering system - they are about $3,000 but I added a special mount so I could still use the swim platform - total cost about $6,000. Halfway between the Canary Islands and Sint Maarten the wheel steering failed taking the Monitor with it. I ended up using the electric autopilot for the rest of the trip. When leaving the British Virgin Islands six months later the electric autopilot failed. I made the trip to the Bahamas and then back to the United States on the vane.

In other threads about boat purchases I have noted that many people underestimate the cost of getting a boat ready for cruising. Frequently they will reserve a small amount after the original purchase price for "outfitting." The boat may seem complete or near complete. My experience is that most used boats are sold when many of the components are old - sails, dingy motor, running rigging, etc. The boat will sail but many of my friends discovered that they were not comfortable without upgrades - new sails, life raft maintenance, a new dingy etc.

How does one budget for the unexpected? Anchored in a place I have been safely for a couple of months at a time I was hit by a freak thunderstorm - winds to 50+ knots and I dragged. New rudder and rudder post $2,000. Not to mention the cost of the haul out. (I had to wait 7 hours for TowBoat US. They were unwinding the 7 boats that had dragged into each other on the other side of Fleming Key.) In a thunderstorm off the North Carolina coast I lost the sacrificial on my jib. Restitching costs and repairs about $500. Tow in the Canaries when I snagged a fishing net - about $200. By the way I didn't know I had snagged a fishing net. The engine overheated when I tried to motor into port. It turned out nothing was wrong with the engine, it was the 2" rope wrapped around the shaft.

I do have a reserve fund for the smaller eventualites. But the big ones just blow the budget. Case in point: I just had my Xantrex inverter fail. No water damage, no voltage spike, no apparent reason. It was a little over 2 years old. I called a Xantrex "out of warrantee" repair center. I was told that the unit could not be repaired. I was also told they fail all the time and the specific component that had failed. I called Xantrex and complained. They offered to sell me a new unit at a discount. The discount turned out to be more than I would have to pay for the unit at Defender Industries I ended up purchasing a new inverter/charger from Victron Energy It cost twice what a new Xantrex unit would have cost. However I expect it to last more than two years and Victron's customer service is excellent. Certainly this was not an item in my budget.

A final note. Sometimes a shift in cruising grounds can result in an unplanned expenditure. When I took Reboot to Europe I ended up purchasing a 220 Volt 50 cycle battery charger. (Actually its a "world charger" - 90 Volt to 250 Volt 50 to 60 cycles.) My solar panels were keeping the batteries charged but they were in sore need of a deep charge cycle. Since I was about to cross the Atlantic I chose to purchase a charger. It turned out to be serendipitous as when the Xantrex failed it was the only battery charger on board. Since it is winter in the US with ten hour days I did not have to be super careful about using the 12 volt systems on Reboot.

After four plus years of cruising I now reserve about 20% of my annual budget for the unexpected. Note: This does not include the unexpected costs of the beautiful women I meet along the way ... Most months it is the biggest chunk of my budget but as the alternative is to hit my retirement savings I am more comfortable doing this then hoping for the best.

Fair winds and following seas.
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  #25  
Old 01-30-2014
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Re: $3000/mo cruising budget

Quote:
Originally Posted by engineer_sailor View Post
Is beer food?
Josh
Of course. As are rum and smokes. There is an open question on the cost of tattoos.
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  #26  
Old 01-30-2014
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Re: $3000/mo cruising budget

Quote:
Originally Posted by outbound View Post
Very much appreciated Zephyr's input. Counter argument is wait until you need it before putting major improvements.
Actually it is not a counter argument. I agree with you completely. Not only for the big things but the little ones too. One mistake I made (out of a universe of thousands) was purchasing items because I would need them in the future. Charts - they get revised. Flares - they go out of date. Tow Insurance - your paying for 12 months. When I came back to the United States I had getting tow insurance on my mind. If you travel the ICW you know why. It took great personal discipline (something I don't normally have) to wait until I was off the coast to call and renew my insurance. I most likely only got a week or so of additional time but I promised myself that I would wait until I actually needed the insurance.

The only exception to this rule was noted in my previous post - purchasing parts outside the US. In addition to the higher prices VAT is a killer. Yes, you can get it refunded but that is another process and another wait.

I waited until I was crossing the Atlantic before I purchased a Sat Phone. I was pretty comfortable with the SSB radio as long as I was only about 500 miles offshore. But I was not comfortable with it when I was 1000 miles offshore. A note on that - I know there are people who long distance cruise with just a VHF radio. I guess they assume they can raise another boat if they get in trouble. During our 27 day transit from Tenerife to Sint Maarten we saw exactly 2 other boats and heard a total of 2 more on the radio. I don't choose to bet my life on VHF.

As mentioned in my previous post redundancy is another cost driver. When I originally went SSB I used The Airmail Home Page
Although the software is free - thank you Jim Coreman - the SCS Pactor Modem was about $1,200. Since then the folks at http://www.winlink.orghave created a new mode called RMS that does not require a modem. It is slower but substantially cheaper. When I purchased the Sat Phone (a IsatPhone Pro - Inmarsat I ended up getting email too. Not cheap as I pay for airtime but I am happy to have a redundant system on board. BTW you are right the cost of these phones is dropping - dropping even faster is the cost of solar panels.

Anyway, I have spent far to much time posting. That may be because it is 21 degrees outside and Reboot is covered in snow - in North Carolina. Oh well.

Fair winds and following seas.
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  #27  
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Re: $3000/mo cruising budget

Interesting thread with some good information. I am also working towards retirement and probably a 2-3K monthly budget for everything. Boat is paid for and I have no mortgage so I believe it is a reasonable figure. I am living aboard and gearing up while working (new dinghy, motor, replaced steel fuel tank, etc., etc.)

I did notice that the 5K budget was for a high dollar 53' boat. My insurance, maintenance and marina fees should all be significantly lower. I am on an older, solidly built 41 foot ketch. I do most of the work on her myself and consider it prudent, responsible, commonsensical to learn all her systems inside and out in order to be self reliant while out on the water. My cruising plans are somewhat modest; I want to knock around New England and the Canadian Maritimes and then sail down to Florida, Bahamas, Caribbean. I am not a big sight seer and love hanging around at anchor swimming, snorkeling, reading, picking guitar, riding my bike...all free. Thinking 2Kish for me alone and add another K to that for periods when my girlfriend is along as there will be more marina stays and dinners ashore.
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Old 01-30-2014
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Re: $3000/mo cruising budget

Eye opening thread. To be honest I would have guessed the average full time cruiser would spend half that.. goes in line with what most are saying is unrealistic expectations.

I know a couple who spend much, much less than $3K/month, but a small, simple boat, no refrigeration, mostly anchor off, rarely eating at restaurants, vegetarians shopping local produce, and mainly keep to more out of the way places avoiding higher prices in tourist traps. But they are clearly atypical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cranki View Post
Interesting thread with some good information......... Thinking 2Kish for me alone and add another K to that for periods when my girlfriend is along as there will be more marina stays and dinners ashore.
... and conventional wisdom seems to suggest you'll double that!
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  #29  
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Re: $3000/mo cruising budget

3000 is doable. But its also a dangerous level. Why? Because you have SOME money, and its easy to decide that you have SOME money to spend on an item that could be seen by some as an extravagance, yet you deem it to be a necessity.
We did it when we upgraded our dinghy. The old one was certainly serviceable. It held air and we got around. But as a very old design it was a very wet ride. We got tired of that so we spent $3000 on a new AB RIB. Much nicer ride and we're happy. Necessity or extravagance? Keep up those kind of expenses and the budget can quickly expand to 6000/mo!!

We also keep track of almost every penny we spend so we see how these decisions affect us over time. When we control our urges, we can cruise for months at around $1500 per. But that ain't our annual spend rate!!!

You should be able to calc some fixed monthly numbers to start with:

Health care and health insurance including prescriptions
Cell phone
Boat insur
Towing insur
Food
Booze
Cigs or other habits
Dining out based on number of times per week and level of price you're willing to pay
All other fixed monthly spending like netflix, yachtclub, porn paysites, etc

Diesel; how many miles will you travel per year? Easy to run some numbers. If you are coastal cruising, just figure motoring 100% of the time and any sailing time will be a bonus. Honest coastal cruisers will tell you they motor almost all the time or at least motorsail. Offshore is a totally different equation and you'll need to look at replacement costs of the sails instead. Figure new sails and rigging about every ten years as a starting point although that is widely variable.

Dock time: highly variable depending on your level of acceptance with always running to shore in the dink. Also, some places you might want to visit are not easily accessible via anchoring. You can get by with almost zero docktime but will you want to?

Bottom maintenance: Can you dive to clean your bottom periodically? Divers run from $50 to $200 to clean the average 40' boat and you likely need 3 to 4 per year. Then there is the haulout, blocking and painting of the bottom every 2 to 4 years.

I'll repeat the question; where? Big differences in where you plan on cruising.
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  #30  
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Re: $3000/mo cruising budget

You speak the truth about motorsailing. I am guilty of that on my yearly 2 week cruises out of Long Island Sound. I clean my own bottom as well though it is exhausting with just a snorkel. (honestly, I can only do about half of it in one session) One of the items on my list to buy before leaving here is a hookah system...either that or get certified to SCUBA and buy tanks.

Good point about where. I will likely make some of my destination decisions based on cost. Is it worth it to go there? Will provisions/parts be cheaper where?
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