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bell ringer
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Determining a cruising budget and trying to find out if it will work seems like one of the most important parts of cruising, yet is one of the hardest to find any answers on. Before I got into sailing I spent 2 years researching the cost issues and in the end kind of just gave up and placed myself on a path to cruising anyway.

The question frequently becomes all jammed up with "it depends" and "it costs whatever you can afford to spend" answers. Which are true, but of little value for planning. Planning becomes even more important for those not so young when the decision to stop working and go cruising equals an end to a career and little chance of returning to work at anywhere near the level they were when they sailed off. The goal becomes balancing leaving while young enough to get the most of of cruising, while working long enough to not run out of money.

But I'm becoming more and more job burnt out and more and more caught in the dream, so find myself looking for the answer. To do it I spend lots of time reading though blogs looking for what people are spending and comparing it to what they are doing. I read things like the "Interview with a Cruiser Project", waste my time on the various forums, and just plain taking a guess based on what it costs me to live on land and maintain my boat now and have a budget in mind.

The budget I'm currently planning for is $3000/mo, which has to cover basically everything. Now this isn't a down and dirty budget, and it isn't a live high budget. But it is expected to be a comfortable budget that allows sightseeing and not eating out of a can budget. And as an average amount is one that I could cruise on till I no longer an able (that $3000/mo, $36,000/yr budget becomes $52,500 when I'm 75 at 2% inflation).

If you are in the cruise for $500/mo group this isn't a thread for you. But if you are in a similar position for cruising on $3000/mo I would love to see comments on what you expect this to mean far as your cruising plans.
 

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Don, I'm right there with you. Burnt out from working, eligible for retirement, have some savings but don't want to run out of money. The whole inflation thing gives me the heebie jeebies. I know I can survive barring anything drastic happening but want to do more than survive and wifey is not interested in constant camping. So you see I've been reading a couple of the active threads concerning cruising on a budget here and do believe $3K per month would be pretty good. I have the dream to do the great loop, seeing as many of the sights along the way as we can so I know it will take a little money to do it what with hitting a marina regularly and other sight seeing and travel. I have yet to decide on a boat to do this with but am leaning toward a smaller sail boat 27'-32' as I also want to do the Bahamas and Carribean eventually. I'm also very drawn to smaller trawlers too especially for the Loop. Another possibility I have considered is a trailer sailer. Something like a Hunter 26/260 would be very economical and if we decided to do our cruising in seasonal legs we could trailer quickly to where we wanted to go and trailer back home if a hurricane or very cold weather threatned. I know with any of these options we could keep our cruising expenses at $3K per month under normal conditions. What has me nervous is whether we can do it and keep the house. Guess I'll have to sharpen my pencil up some more and do the math. If it was just myself I would go this year but I have to keep in mind the family responsibilities.

Kevin
 

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What is the 3000 meant to cover...

boat payment?
Health care?
Home mortgage?
Home maintenance, taxes, utilities?
Alimony or child support?
Etc.

To summarize, is the 3000 just cruising expense money?
 

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bell ringer
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
What is the 3000 meant to cover...

boat payment?
Health care?
Home mortgage?
Home maintenance, taxes, utilities?
Alimony or child support?
Etc.

To summarize, is the 3000 just cruising expense money?
It is to cover everything. But I wouldn't have a boat or home payment/expenses.
 

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Our buget is based on a monthly outlay of around 5K/ month when we start our long term cruising. Our boat is 65' on the deck so boat associated costs are significantly higher and we have kids. I would think that your $3K will serve you well. There a lot of factors, not the least of which is where you intend to cruise.
 

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I should also mention that our budget is for the total cost of crusing... no land based costs are included in that number ie house, etc. The budget does include all insurances, mainenance, food, fuel, fees of all kinds, excursions, upgrades, airfare etc.
 

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██▓▓▒▒░&
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A lot depends on where you want to be. If you're not on Medicare, good medical insurance can still cost you $1000/month. Depending on your health and any pre-existing conditions, there's room for a lot of variation in that. And if you're outside the US, the whole picture changes again. Changes from year to year, too, as some countries are now requiring that you have your own insurance rather than burden them.

Then there's where you stay at night. Let's say a 35-foot boat, and marinas easily ranging $2-5 per foot per night for transients. $70-175 per night? Split the difference and say $125 per night, and five or ten or is it fifteen? nights at a marina can rip your budget up.

I think the bigger question is not whether anyone can cruise on any particular budget, but whether you can cruise in the style you want, in the places you want to go, at whatever may be a realistic budget for that.
 

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Just re did a spreadsheet with the finance guy to figure if we should own the boat totally or leave part owned by the bank. In short figured will sail until 80 and have resources to buy total boat from bank when we want which is why we did analysis. Figured in flights, all insurances, all living /boat expenses and hanging on to house for the first few years. For our 46' boat you're looking at ~50k/yr as base for the boat and living on boat.Figured in replacement schedule for sails/rigging/through hulls/ batteries etc. If you add in holding onto house/cars etc. you're looking at more. As TC says depends on boat size,age of boat and cruising ground. Realize you may need additional health insurance if your stateside insurance wouldn't cover you out of country. Many things are trade offs. Have watermaker- don't buy water, Need to service watermaker. Have wind/sun don't burn diesel for electricity- need initial outlay. Do a spreadsheet with an outside partner. Makes it all very real. Also thought 3k/m was realistic. Still think quite do-able but want "play" money to sight see. Now as we edge into the life find may have underestimated expenses.
 

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bell ringer
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I did a retirement spending thing with my finance guy a few weeks ago and he said my plan worked. Of course all the really means is that if I spend $3000/mo my money lasts as expected.

But since my finance guy is older than me and still has to work I don't really believe he knows anything more than me. And of course he knows nothing about the boat side of the question.

Far as keeping the house and paying off the boat loan, this all is betting that you can do better with the money that the interest getting charged. Hard to say, the only real asset is cash in hand (not invested in stocks, just cash)
 

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A lot depends on where you want to be. If you're not on Medicare, good medical insurance can still cost you $1000/month. Depending on your health and any pre-existing conditions, there's room for a lot of variation in that. And if you're outside the US, the whole picture changes again. Changes from year to year, too, as some countries are now requiring that you have your own insurance rather than burden them.

Then there's where you stay at night. Let's say a 35-foot boat, and marinas easily ranging $2-5 per foot per night for transients. $70-175 per night? Split the difference and say $125 per night, and five or ten or is it fifteen? nights at a marina can rip your budget up.

I think the bigger question is not whether anyone can cruise on any particular budget, but whether you can cruise in the style you want, in the places you want to go, at whatever may be a realistic budget for that.
The two biggest budget busters when we were cruising were marinas and airline tickets to and from the US. We spent a lot more nights in marinas than we should have, just because we had the money, and we liked the convenience for shopping and eating out. But, I bet we dropped about a $1000 per month average on airline tickets.

I own my boat, too and our medical is only $440 a month with boat insurance around $150 per month. I think we would have done fine on $3000 a month if we just spent more time on the hook and didn't fly home so much.

As it was, I was dropping around $4000 to $5000 per month, and it ended up cutting my trip short.
 

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I copied this over from Crusiers Forum... I thought it was extremely usefull. Hope I'm allowed to do this...

S/V BeBe says

"It is always somewhat amusing to me to read what people think they will spend once they are out cruising full time. The old adage was to calculate what you think you will spend.......and then double that figure and you will be close to reality. We calculated that it would cost roughly 35k to cruise very economically, and could do it on 24k if cut to absolute bare bones and did not do cosmetic maintenance on the boat. (And wouldn't that be a penny wise/ pound foolish thing to do!) We also knew that if we assumed 35k would do it, then the actual cost would likely be minimum 50k annually.

On 1 May we celebrated our 4th anniversary as full-time cruisers and I reviewed our actual expenses to date. Please note that I record every single penny we spend daily. I don't just ball-park numbers by making assumptions; I literally record every penny spent. In 4 years we have spent $212,619.72 and I posted the breakdown on our blog at S/V BeBe: Log and Costs

Boat insurance is a hefty chunk of that total and each year it is a hard decision to pay that large annual premium. But we personally knew as casual acquaintances 7 boats that have been lost in the South Pacific in the past 2 years, so we reluctantly renew the insurance each year and fork over the money. It isn't like the old days. If your boat is lost anywhere other than in open ocean, you will be responsible for paying for the environmental damage. That cost alone will be more than the annual premium for any insurance coverage. Friends recently lost their boat on a reef in Samoa and they did not have insurance. They had to pay $12,500 for hitting that reef before they were allowed to depart Samoa. As much as I would love to apply that 11.6% of our cruising expenses to being able to spend more years out here, that would be a reckless decision.

Whatever you think it will cost to cruise.....double that number."

Judy
S/V BeBe
currently in Malaysia and halfway through our circumnavigation
 

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Good person financial management should always involve having a budget whether your cruising on a boat or living on land. Good financial management means keeping track of expenses. I'm a crappy money manager but my wife on the other hand has everything budgeted and tracks all spending using Quicken program.

Making a proper budget takes a lot of work initially to get figures which make sense and cover all expenses. Then a constant review is necessary to ensure the budgeted amounts reasonably reflect actual expenditures.

Can a couple live on $3,000 per month? Sure, but is that the way your going to live or is it way high? Each couple has to figure it out for their comfort level.

Some expenses:
-food
-insurance
-medical
-fuel
-maintenance
-repairs
-marina
-moorings
-booze
-entertainment
-dining out
-communications; cell phones and internet
-port entry fees
-land travel
-water
-charitable donations

On top of these there are expenses involved in land based stuff.
 

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Sailboat Reboot
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I too was frustrated by the "it depends." I own a 42' sailboat and have done some cruising in North and Central American, Portugal, Spain and the Canaries, and in the Caribbean.

Initial Capital Costs

I owned my boat. It went through three phases: family cruiser, racer, and finally full time cruising. Each transition resulted in a major capital outlay. My racing outlay was almost completely for safety equipment: life raft, jacklines, harnesses, excellent life jackets, throwing lines, etc. Moving to cruising I had a new set of expenditures: dinghy, outboard motor, solar panels, water maker, SSB radio, email modem, satphone, mast steps, tricolor, AIS and so forth. Not to mention little things that cropped up: boom preventers, dingy hoist, etc. I strongly suggest that you make these expenditures before you retire and are living on a fixed income.

Ongoing Maintenance

Hard to quantify as it is very dependent on your cruising style. I have traveled about 4 to 5 thousand nautical miles per year since I was cruising. I have had to replace sails, paint the bottom regularly, and do a lot of small things that add up to a lot of money - I dragged in a fierce thunderstorm and had to replace the rudder, sails wear out or at least need to be restitched, shackles break, blocks pop, the wear and tear of salt water on little things like cotter pins creates a constant stream of maintenance expenses.

Clearance Costs
Where you cruise can have a major impact on your budget. I went from Key West to Guatemala. Checking into Mexico was about $400, Belize about $350, Guatemala another $350. After Guatemala I chose to return to the United States. I sailed past Belize and Mexico as just stopping in either for one night would have cost me the $350 to $400 clearance fees again. The Belize authorities came and looked for me (they apparently were tracking me on AIS) until they determined that I was just going to sail past them. Some islands in the Caribbean cost me $10 and some cost $400.

Cost of Living
I stopped at about 12 islands in the Caribbean over the course of four months. (Why is a story for another day, see my blog.) Prices in Guadeloupe rivaled those in Paris. $50 per day for groceries. $12 per pack smokes. Prices in Sint Maarten were so low that Wal-Mart would go out of business.

Dockage
Marina prices are all over the map. The winner, the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island at $6.50 per foot per night - use of the resort was extra. Prices of $1.50 per foot were common. Mooring balls ranged from free to $20 per night. In most places it was possible to hang on the hook for free. Fuel and Water prices were pretty consistent wherever I went.

Lifestyle
I am almost always cruising solo. The only person I need to please is myself. I know many cruising couples where the need to agree results in higher costs. Not infrequently the rub is anchoring out vs going into a marina. Not to mention the need to return home to visit family. When I am out of the United States I don't fly home to visit my children. From most places outside the US that is a $1500 or more per person expenditure. It is just not in my budget. I know a not insignificant number of couples where one spouse needs to "visit family" while the other spouse sails the boat to the new destination.

The home fires
What will you leave behind? Many cruisers maintain a residence in the US. Many more have storage lockers full of stuff that doesn't fit on the boat. I have shed it all - no home, no car, no storage locker (OK my son does have a couple of boxes of memorabilia.)

Repairs
Paying someone else to repair your boat is very expensive. What is worse is that a large number of the people are totally unqualified or take the easy fix. For example I was having trouble with my refrigerator. I was told I need to spend $2000 on a new unit. A friend who knew what he was doing purchased a $150 part. That solved the problem.

Boat Parts
As bad as West Marine's reputation for high prices they are bargain basement compared to the cost of parts outside the United States. Budget Marine in the Caribbean had prices that were 135% to 150% of West Marine prices. Some countries charge import duties that can be very high. A very typical strategy is to invite friends to come visit and have them bring the parts with them to a duty free port such as Sint Maarten. Unfortunately now that the airlines are charging for extra baggage this is not the bargain it once was. Costs to ship packages outside the United States are extraordinary high by US standards. A couple of hundred dollars and a couple of weeks to get a package is not unusual.

Budget Breakers
By far for me the biggest budget breaker is meals ashore. You meet some fellow cruisers. You agree to go ashore for a couple of drinks and a meal. Goodbye budget if you do this very often

Summary
Your budget for me is generous. I sail on less. I think that $2,000 per month is a reasonable floor if you intend to do more than sit in a single place. That assumes you also carry insurance on the boat and have some form of heath care insurance in place.

FYI
1. One thing that surprised me was that the daily and monthly rates for dockage vary between the US and Europe. In the US break even for paying the monthly rate is 6 to 7 days. In Europe it is closer to 25 to 26 days.
2. If you are going to rely on Medicare remember that it provides no coverage outside the United States (OK and Guam.) Some cruisers purchase medical evacuation insurance so that they can get transported home if they get sick.
3. Remember if its "Red, Right, Return' you are in America!

Fair winds and following seas.
 

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Sailboat Reboot
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Cruising Destinations

After I finished my previous post it struck me that there was an area that I had not really addressed in the lifestyle section: cruising destinations. If I was naive about anything (actually I was naive about a lot) it was how slow boats travel. I would decide I wanted to go to a destination, check World Cruising Routes to make sure I was at least in the ballpark of appropriate courses and times of year and off I would go. Yes, I actually soloed across the Atlantic on a whim. I have learned that planning 100 NM per 24 hour day is about right for me. I can go faster but it is much more uncomfortable, a major factor when sailing 20 to 25 days non-stop. And there are the days when the wind just does not want to cooperate. I have learned the hard way that it is as important to figure out when you will get to a destination as it is when you are going to depart. Destinations "close out" for certain seasons. I have been told you don't want to be in the Med in the winter. It takes a certain amount of courage (?) to stay in the Caribbean in hurricane season particularly because hurricane coverage will most likely double you insurance costs (for me $1300 to $2800 per year so far depending upon the cruising area with no coverage after 24 hours of single handing until I make port for 12 hours and no named storm coverage in the hurricane/typhoon belt. Some cruisers will put their boat on the hard and fly "back home" until the season reopens. Some will live aboard. Living on the hook in bad weather for 4 or 5 months is hard on the spirit. I know cruisers who were unable to get off their pitching boats for a week or more in bad weather.

Times have changed - particularly with Schengen in Europe. The need for many cruisers to get out of Europe for an extended period has made the marina costs in typical wintering over places like Turkey much more expensive. (an aside - if you are planning to cruise to Europe and don't know what Schengen is make sure you find out before you leave the United States.)

No matter what you have read in the books about cruising in Europe and the Caribbean you are just one of a few thousand boats in the game. The interest of people on shore is your wallet. The only place that I experience the old cruising "why don't you come to lunch at our place" was in Newfoundland and Miquelon Island. Cruisers in the high latitudes are still a bit rare (but not in Nova Scotia.) The Ham radio operators who took care of me on a daily basis while I was offshore invited me into their homes and drove me around to the store and to show me the sights. It was a wonderful and welcome experience.

Pets
I am the proud staff to "XO the Wonder Cat." Please see his Facebook page or watch him on Cats 101 on Animal Planet. (Note that dogs have owners and cats have "staff.") He has kept me sane more than once on long trips offshore. But having an animal on board raises another set of issues, some financial. It cost me more to clear XO into English Harbor ($50) then it did Reboot and crew ($22.) It is difficult to find someone to watch your companion for free if you want to take a multi-day shore excursion. I have not investigated putting him into paid care but rather have altered my own travel plans on his behalf.

Fair winds and following seas.
 

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Swab
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Don, I'm right there with you. Burnt out from working, eligible for retirement, have some savings but don't want to run out of money.

Kevin
I was there 8 years ago, except that I had a sh!tpile of debt. Sold everything, paid off the debt and quit my job. Now, debt free, we have been cruising for seven years very comfortably, averaging about $1K per month.

Groceries are now our biggest expense, but it depends a lot on mooring fees and maintenance. Our boat has run, on average over 25 years, about $100 a month for maintenance, including a new suit of sails, a new engine and one rebuild, standing rigging twice and running rigging five or six times. Mooring rates have ranged from free or low (Under $700 per year in Wrangell, AK) to over $800 a month in San Francisco.

Right now, mooring is $79 per month. Groceries are running about $500. Beer and cigars about $400 (I drink premium draft beer from a tap only). If there were a restaurant in town we might spend more but a pizza once in a while runs around $25. Internet access $25 a month, electricity at the boat around $60. Call it $1200 a month. During the summer when we are actively cruising, subtract the mooring, electricity, internet and half the beer. Make it about seven or eight hundred a month plus the occasional shoreside entertainment and temporary transient moorage.

Income exceeds outgo. Happiness:)

Laura is working on a detailed article about our budgeting process.
 

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Captain Obvious
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I would think that if you maintain a house then coming back for hurricane season should save you some money annually. Go home for 4 months, saves $12k per year minus hauling out and transport home.
 

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Groceries are now our biggest expense, but it depends a lot on mooring fees and maintenance.
Seems to me that if you could get that seasickness under control you'd be able to manage those grocery bills :)

Glad you chimed in here. I was beginning to think I'd need to find 5K a month . . . :)
 
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