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post #1 of 7 Old 02-06-2006 Thread Starter
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Realistic Expectations

Hi all. I''m new to this board and have a question that I would appreciate some informed feedback on;
Can I cruise/liveaboard on $16K/US per year? This is a retirement income and is adjusted for inflation each year. I am single and lets assume that I own an Ericson 32, no debt. Thank you all for your responses.
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post #2 of 7 Old 02-07-2006
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Realistic Expectations

Open Seas:

Where will you be cruising? (Pac NW? Gulf Coast? Bahamas?) What kind of cruising? (Occasional offshore? ICW only? Moving seasonally, non-stop or not at all?) What condition is your (assumed) boat in, as you begin cruising? (New or recent rig? Fully serviced, relatively fresh diesel? HiCap DC electrical system, so plugging in is unnecessary?) What boat maintenance & seamanship skills do you bring to the equation? (Large tool bag? Lots of previous hands-on boat projects? Meaningful, previous cruising experience?) How is your health? (How old are you? What meds must you take? Do you carry med insurance?)

It is possible to get much closer to a realistic estimate of your cruising costs than the common ''it takes what you have'' answer, but it also requires you dig into the variables involved and get specific about them. If you want a serious, detailed answer, it lies in first digging into the detail of these variables that is discussed in numerous places on this topic - see e.g. the cruising-oriented BB you''ll find at http://ssca.org/sscabb/index.php - and then tying it back to your own circumstances and plans. You''ll end up with a better answer than any of us can provide, and you''ll understand what assumptions are made in order for the answer to be valid.

Good luck to you; the effort is surely worth it.

Jack
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post #3 of 7 Old 02-08-2006
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Realistic Expectations

If you think you can live on 16K per year (including a hefty repair budget) in the US,
then you should be able to live on that amount as a cruising budget. I will assume you are American, and with a 32 Ericson you probably wont cross an ocean but more than likely stay in the Carribbean if you are on the east coast.You might be surprised to find that the Carribbean can be equal to or more expensive than the US.
I have no knowledge of sailing destinations on the west coast. Someone else will have to help you on that one.
We all have different levels of comfort and different attitudes as to what is living and what is existing.
The only way to find out is to move aboard full-time NOW !!! And live on your $16K. If you run short on money, better to find out now while still in the states and can get an emergency job.
It can be done if you are determined to do it. Off-hand, I would think a single person will be OK on that amount.
As the Nike ads say........JUST DO IT !!!
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post #4 of 7 Old 02-13-2006
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I will assume that you are not going to liveaboard in the northeast which would cause other challenges than trying to live on 16k.

You really need to provide us with more information. Without that, we will be shooting in the dark. Like, do you enjoy cooking or eating out? Do you like to entertain? What will your cruising destinations be. do you like mooring or tying up? Help us out.
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post #5 of 7 Old 02-15-2006
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My take on this:
1) Be realistic about the condition of your boat and your skills in repair. This is probably the most variable large item. I have heard (from people doing it) that live aboard long distance cruising is just "Repairing your boat in exotic places".
2) The next thing is life style. But this is more controllable. Over the years I have met single guys living on boats on quite a bit less than that. But usually they had pretty non-traditional life styles. You can reduce costs a lot by never eating out or staying in marinas. If you go abroad don't insist on eating foods you know, eat what the locals eat - it will be LOTS cheaper.
3) Every place (including the US) is more expensive for visitors than for residents. Living on a boat you are permanently a visitor.

That said I have spent a couple of winters in the Bahamas by myself on my boat and spent about $1K/mo. But this did not include deferred maintenance (i.e. I had lots of work to do when I got home) and I am strictly a live on the hook and eat on the boat type. (And diesel was cheaper then :-)
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post #6 of 7 Old 02-16-2006
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I know I could do it on 6K a year, whether you can do it on 16K is up to you.

The simpler the boat is, the simpler it is to fix. My last boat I lived aboard 3 years and never spent dollar one in maintenance, I did do some bartering and used a lot of hands-on elbow grease. I also made a conscious decision to do without an engine, which involved a little more thinking, patience and sailcraft...but I wasn't sorry to wake up each morning without the smell of gasoline in my nostrils. In one area I found an ideal anchorage where I had to maneuver down a short canal to get into open water, and I built and employed a sweep to do this! Which attracted a lot of attention and catcalls but it works. For some people finding the simpler/cheaper solution is an adventure in itself, for other people it's pure torture to be without conveniences and appliances. Know your limitations.

If people draw up a budget that shows where their dollars are going, they're often amazed how much money goes into the "Entertainment" category. Buying cocktails for you and your mate in St. Thomas can cost you 2 weeks in food bills for a frugal shopper, you can go to the movies with your honey, or buy a BOX full of old movies at a garage sale you can watch for years, at the same price. I found when I was cruising I would start to miss red meat and salads, I would dehydrate beef and venison (I'm a hunter) when I was at my homeport working and "restocking the kitty" and while cruising soak the dry meat to reconstitute it a little before cooking in a casserole or pasta sauce to get a taste of something "meaty". (There's nothing like a big juicy steak, though...SIGH...maybe if you're sailing up Canada way you'll find caribou browsing on the beach...LOL!) I've been in foreign ports where a head of lettuce cost $7 (NOT kidding)...the only solution I've found for this is bean/alfalfa sprouts. You can sprout beans and alfalfa by putting the seeds into a loosely lidded jar with a little water, and turning and shaking it regularly, the seeds expand until the jar is full of sprouts, then expose to sunlight to "green them up" just before use...vinegar and oil and and you have a very acceptable and healthy salad, very crunchy and green. Buy food in bulk, look for the "dented can" discount stores that are a "hidden secret" in a lot of large towns. Restaurants use these giant 10 gallon containers for shortening, pickles, etc. with these wonderful sealing lids that are IMPERVIOUS to anything except a nuclear strike, when they're empty they just throw them away! Scrounge a few of these and you have storage containers that will keep food, clothes, electronics, etc. bug and humidity proof for years! AND of course, there is a lot of SEAFOOD to be had out there! Buy all the spices, peppers, condiments etc. to keep variety in a seafood-prominent diet. I had a driftwood-fueled hibachi attached to my transom for cooking, it was a pain starting a fire first thing in the AM to put a percolator on, but hey, now I have the skill of starting a fire anytime, anywhere under ALMOST any conditions with one match...and no necessity for finding propane/butane/whatever in a strange port (I kept a primus on board for "rainy day" emergencies...I can live without food longer than I can live without coffee). Every time I went on shore, I would come back with driftwood I'd scavenged in hand...the bench lockers in the cockpit were stuffed full with it...! And the helpful thing about having an actual FIRE with coals, is you can employ dutch oven cooking, bake your own bread, cakes, pie, plus "crock pot" type cooking...and, of course, the salt in the driftwood makes a multi-color display that's very beautiful at dusk during the cocktail hour...

You get the gist, and if you find you enjoy these kind of frugal pursuits, you may find you've saved enough money to use strategically on the conveniences you miss most, just make sure their maintenance costs don't sabotage your original purpose. Hit garage sales for computer games, old movies. Libraries often have book sales to offload excess donations, I've often gone to library sales where they unloaded paperbacks for a few dollars for a BAG of books...pawn shops for music CD's, stereo equipment, bicycles. Upgrade your wind/solar systems to POWER your goodies on board.

One modern convenience I've found to be a "necessary expense" is wireless internet. It costs under $100 per month, it works in almost any US location, and the amount of communication and entertainment it provides justifies the cost. Plus, in my case I find it necessary for a small internet business I have that keeps me in the black...! (A great idea for another thread, how cruisers can make money on the Net so they can keep on cruisin')

That's all I can think of offhand...I've often thought there should be a website for "frugal cruisers" but I haven't run across one as yet!
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post #7 of 7 Old 02-23-2006
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Originally Posted by ShirKhan
That's all I can think of offhand...I've often thought there should be a website for "frugal cruisers" but I haven't run across one as yet!
Here's that website. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LowCos...338&finish=sub

Also see: Lin Pardey's website for ideas for frugal cruising.
Larry W.
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