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Old 09-16-2003
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WHOOSH is on a distinguished road
As some of the posts show, not only does a given boat''s budget vary widely from ''the pack'' but a cruising budget is actually a subset of a larger set of financial issues (re-entry costs, boat purchase/upgrade budget, emergency fund, etc., all funneling up to a total financial pot from which they all must be funded).

The best single source for coaching someone through all these issues...but tying them down to a specific boat and cruising plans...is in Beth Leonard''s Voyager''s Handbook (I may have that title off just a bit). Beth knows enough to correlate the financial planning issues with other directly relevant variables, e.g. the simplicity/complexity of the boat involved, and reading the chapter in her book is a big help in sorting out the micro and macro views.

FWIW Latitude 38 regularly carries articles on this topic, more often focusing on cruising on the W Coast of Central America but sometimes farther afield. While the details offered by their readers is always enlightening, their central theme carries right thru all the readers'' comments: you''ll spend what you have and, as a corollary, you''ll make what you have work if you''re committed to going.

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Old 09-24-2003
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dkz is on a distinguished road
While it''s clear that there are lots of variables, I think it *is* really helpful
to get actual dollar figures from people
who have done it, especially when attached to some description of where they cruised, how extravagantly they lived, what size boat, how many people, etc.--that is, correlated to the variables. Too often, people who might know answer the question "how much does it cost" by saying "it depends." (As a culture, we are oddly uncomfortable talking about money.) The answer "this is what we spent and this is how we spent it" is much more helpful as a guideline, and it''s more helpful the more different answers you get.

So I''m grateful (as I plan my cruise--I''m on the five year plan) for the question and to those who were kind enough to answer with dollars and details.

Several years ago, I was reading figures of about $1,000 a month for a couple to live basically but not impoverished... The figures coming in here--closer to $1500?--seem generally consistent with that, given inflation. The problem is, when I sailed for several months in the Pacific, I knew it was only going to be for several months and I had some money, so I was living pretty well. Will I like cruising as much on half the budget? Hmmmm...

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Old 09-25-2003
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I agree, Dave. The problem with quitting jobs and going cruising for an extended period (years, not months) is the finality of it. Some folks have skills that they can easily take up again later, and their intent is to go cruising for a couple of years and return to the work force. If they spend more than planned, they return to land sooner, if they spend less, they stay out longer.
Others of us are older, ready for early retirement or retired, and have careers that could not realistically be re-started in 3-5 years. This makes the budget and time for departure a more important decision.
That is why having a monthly budget number that would allow a "comfortable" lifestyle--whatever lifestyle you want to maintain--is important. Then ideally exceed that number with a reserve of money.
So those who have published specific budget numbers have done the cruising community a great service. Even though "everyone is different", and even though "it depends", and even though "you will spend what you have to spend".
I also believe that the two biggest budget items are health and boat insurance. It is important to know if these two are included in any published budget. Marinas, phone calls, buying stuff for the boat, trips home, eating out--all of these impact the budget, but are adjustable monthly--if the budget is fat this month, eat out more, if not, eat out less. Boat and health insurance are consistent monthly charges and together can be $500/month or more.

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Old 09-25-2003
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An interesting thread, indeed. Having not quite started with any cruising (part-or full-time), I can only add what our current plans are:

1. Keeping the boat purchase price low enough so there is enough left from our "pot of money" to fund 5 years of estimated upkeep (insurance, maintenance, upgrades, expendables, etc.). For us, that''s $100K on the boat (taxes paid) and $50K left for 5 years upkeep. I''m told that should be conservative, especially if we buy a boat in good condition.

2. We plan to take about 4-6 months our first year (2005) for a "sabbatical" cruise (after 23 years of steady work for me, and my wife being retired as of 2004). The expense budget for that cruise is $2,000 per month, including boat and medical insurance, food, mooring fees, fuel, entertainment, etc.

3. If we like it as much as we think, we plan to structure our working lives around 8 months a years, leaving 3-4 months for cruising on a slightly smaller budget ($1,600 per month).

4. The only way this works for us (in theory) is that my wife will have a pretty decent pension coming in 12 months a year. Without that, we would have to scale back our boat and budget by half to do this at this time.

5. We feel we are fortunate to have what we do (less than some and more than others), but in any case we don''t want to put off our part-year cruising life until we amass some extremely "comfortable" amount of money in bank. You never know when your health will fail or something will stop you, so we''re going soon.

6. My engineering/computer skills are not quite as transferable as one might think (at least not directly), but I will find a way to earn enough money during the working portion of the year to make this happen. If we took off for 3 years of solid cruising, and then tried to reenter the workforce, I''m sure it would be tough.

Good luck to all of you in your plans.

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Old 09-25-2003
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We are about to set off on our cruise in 42 days. Notice I am counting.

One thing to keep in mind in buying a boat, used or new, is the cost of getting it prepared for cruising. Even a boat that is in excellent condition will require quite a bit of updating.

2 1/2 years ago I bought a 1981 Mariner CC 39 sloop. It was in immaculate shape, the former and only owner having lived aboard it for 18 years. The surveyors said it was one of the best kept boats they had ever seen.

That being said I have spend about $19,000 to check and update wiring, plumbing, the rudder, etc. So make sure you consider this in your planning factors. Several books I have read have said use a rule of thumb of 1/3 to 1/2 of purchase cost will be required.

I didn''t believe this rule on my first boat, which was new, or this one, but in both cases that figure was about right, in actuality.

Its still worth it thought, just a little stressful as we get close to the goal.

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Old 09-27-2003
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Wow! 42 days. I''m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. Good luck! If you find yourself with a cash flow problem, email me... I''ll show up on deck with $1,000!

By now, you all have probably seen the latest Cruising World. Cover story:
"How much does it cost?" Basically useful--
in line, I''d say, with the figures here, though they also include the budgets of some more luxurious travellers.

I teach college. I''m hoping to cruise from mid-December to mid-August--destination unknown--probably Caribbean (including, or mostly, western--Belize, Bay Islands), and live cheaply at home while working (Sep. 1 -mid-December)... all for about $20K a year. I''ll be singlehanding part of the time, with a partner (and sometimes her two kids) part of the time (and she''ll add a bit to that $20K budget)... I know I can live very cheaply at home while I teach. If I can get the boat and outfit it beforehand, the figures I''m seeing suggest I can do this (on a small boat--probably under 36 feet--maybe quite a bit under.

That''s the five-year plan. Right now, I want to get a small boat (a 27'' Albin Vega?) and keep it somewhere tropical (east end of Puerto Rico? Florida Keys? Bahamas? Belize/Rio Dulce? Sea of Cortez?) to sail for 4 weeks Dec.-Jan., Spring break, and part of summer (all these places, of course, are in hurricane zones, I know)...

Here''s the question. Does anyone know anything about costs--and the practicality-- of keeping a boat--in the water or out--in any of these places? (The Cruising World article cites marina costs of $150 for two months in the Rio Dulce, about $15/day elsewhere in the Caribbean, more in Panama (but under $10/day in Tahiti!)--the $15/day was for bigger, 40'' boats).


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Old 10-01-2003
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What an informative post !

Can''t wait for my time to escape. (4 years - got the boat) I hope those numbers don''t jump too much.

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Old 10-02-2003
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Well, FWIW, We''ve been cruising the georgia/north florida coast for a month now.
I''d say that our expenses are close to $2,000. wanting to go in places, we have to pay for dinghy privledges, $5 - $8 a day, and in a couple of places we paid a marina fee. having a few drinks or lunch out also adds up. But if we keep it here, We''re OK and loving it. We''re actually in Beaufort SC now and getting ready to go back south.
Rick & Connie,
S/V Calaloo
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Old 10-15-2003
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Keep in mind that I have never cruised so I don''t KNOW, I am only offering an uninformed opinion.
I think rather than say the cost of cruising "depends" or "varies" it should just be said "it costs what you are willing to spend".
I have a wife and 2 small children, house payment, car payment and all the other expenses. I estimate my total monthly expenses at $1600 (no more than $1800 since that is all I earn) I can''t imagine that it would cost more for me to live aboard than it does on shore. I really believe (and I am sure you will all tell me I am wrong) that I could live comfortably but humbly on $500-$600 a month while cruising.
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Old 10-16-2003
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928frenzy is on a distinguished road
No doubt there are some who can cruise on a shoe-string. The more important questions are, what is the minimum amount of comfort you and your crew can tolerate, and for how long?

A good budget should include a kitty for unforseen events. Besides higher than usual entertainment expenses, there should be funds set aside for an emergency trip back home, regardless of where you are. In addition, there should be cash on hand in case the boat needs immediate repairs, again - regardless of where you are.

When you factor these (less likely, but) costly expenses into the overall cruising budget it can quickly grow to a figure that easily exceed one''s net monthly income. Bottom line - have your cruising budget reviewed by knowledgeable, experienced cruisers. It''s always better to prepare and budget for the worst, and hope for the best. Doing it the other way is pretty much a guarantee that the cruise will end prematurely or worse. :^(

~ Happy sails to you ~ _/) ~
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