Jackie Parry – author

Top tips on saving money while cruising


Buying a boat is just the start of clearing out of your bank accounts. The vacuuming of your wallet will continue if you want to maintain a seaworthy boat. So, how can you save money while cruising?

It’s easier than you think to make savings, there are reams of money saving tips and advice in Cruisers’ AA, here’s a selection to get you started:



Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1) Balance

  • You need to balance time, money and effort. Invest time in sourcing different prices and quotes for expensive items (sails for instance); but saving a twenty cent bus fare by walking five miles is a waste of time and effort.

2) Boat equipment

  • Always ask for a discount in a marine store; they are all competitive and will more than likely accommodate you a little.
  • Good quality equipment can be ‘cheaper’ in the long run, so try to think long-term, especially for the pricier items.

3) Shopping

  • Buy clothes, shoes, material and tools (if available) in recycling shops; many of these items can be new or nearly new, in great condition and incredibly cheap.
  • Buy your favourite wines less often, or accustom your palate to cheaper wine. It is amazing what you get used to.
  • Avoid visiting the touristy shops. Go where the locals shop and eat; you may have to change your diet slightly, but isn’t travelling about new experiences?

4) Health & Well-being

  • Learn to cut your own hair and your partner’s – it’s easy!
  • We purchase more expensive sun-cream for our face, brands that do not sting your eyes and are easy to apply. For our bodies we buy cheaper brands, they all work.
  • For sunburn use cold tea to help reduce the redness and pain.
  • Drink plenty of water, it helps your body naturally moisturise your skin.
  • Image courtesy of Ikunl at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image courtesy of Ikunl at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5) Wear & Tear

  • The key to cruising on a budget is to check your equipment and to make good decisions about how much life it has left. It is tricky when money is tight, but we take time to think about potential purchases and put ourselves in the position of being at sea. If there is bad weather – that expensive item may seem very cheap all of a sudden.
  • For example, new sails are an expensive item, but well cut sails produce a lot more drive, which reduces how much time a passage will take. Thoughts of our old sails tearing during a 3,000 nautical mile voyage made the purchase a lot easier to swallow.

6) Gifts

  • Each year, for Christmas, we set a ridiculous budget, such as $5 per person. Recycle shops or local craft stalls are sought and rummaged through. The gift has to be as useful and meaningful as possible.

7) Eating on board/Eating out

  • Budget cruising means lots of meals on board. This can sound fun or easy, but the reality can become quite different. It does mean work. For two of us, that is six meals a day in total. Including the purchasing of food and the clearing up afterwards, it can feel like a full time job.
  • Share & prepare: We share the cooking so neither of us gets too bogged down.
  • Have fun: We do go out occasionally and forget about the budget – we think this is healthy and try not to dwell on it too much.
  • Balance: How you eat on board is a four-way balance between food availability, your palate, effort and budget. The more effort you put into sourcing reasonably priced supplies and cooking on board for the majority of time, then the less you will spend.
  • Enjoy the outdoors: If you are out for the day, it does not always mean you have to eat in a restaurant or cafe for lunch. We often buy fresh rolls at the bakery, a couple of bananas and an avocado, and find a nice bench to sit on. More often than not, we have our own water bottles with us and can find a park to enjoy our lunch in.
  • Eating Out: Limit your dining out to only once a week when in port.
  • Leftovers: When eating in a restaurant, we always take our leftovers home. I never feel embarrassed about this, it is my meal and I have paid for it. The people in the restaurant are always delighted that we have enjoyed the food so much we want to take it home.
  • Location, location, location: In a foreign port, eat where the locals eat, not the tourists. It’s usually cheaper and better! Avoid the main street and venture further in to the back streets.
  • Good meat is expensive in most places. Save your cash by reducing how much meat you eat and enjoy the added benefit of a healthier diet.

8) Make it fun

  • Declare that for one week there will be no eating out and that everyone must contribute to galley duties, even if it is just meal ideas. New/inspired ideas win rewards at the end of the week. Save money and lead up to the end of the week with a special meal and awards night.
  • Image courtesy of nirots at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image courtesy of nirots at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In summary

Being passionate about everything we do is important to us, including living on a budget. Finding an alternative that is cost effective is very gratifying. Sticking to a budget is not all about missing out; every dollar you save is one less you have to earn. It’s not all about cutting back either; it’s finding a better way to live.

Over time, you will be amazed at how resourceful you become and realise that living on a budget is not repressive; it is actually a fun and exciting challenge. It improves your life and way of thinking. Do not cut corners for necessary equipment and supplies, just prioritise and think about what you actually need, not want.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Cruisers’ AA will be out on Kindle next month!….. follow us at www.jackieparry.com for more details.


Author: jackieandnoel

Author and Traveller

8 thoughts on “Top tips on saving money while cruising

  1. Loved this read. You have some great tips. I don’t usually do this, but I attached a blog I wrote on trying to live on a budget because it was just so darn hard for me lol. On the hard now just waiting to return in November and it’s driving me crazy. http://pinknblueview.blogspot.ca/2014/03/the-call-of-laughter-clink-of-ice-just.html


    • Hi Linda, so pleased you stopped by and left a link to your blog – it looks great!I couldn’t see a follow button, I’d like to follow you! Stay in touch, share and I will do the same! Fair winds… 🙂 by the by – look at our home page and there are links to our books Cruisers’ AA (accumulated acumen) – which is coming out on Kindle next month (very cheap!)…. Of Foreign Build (from corporate girl to sea-gypsy woman) is out in November too (I am very busy!) both hard copy and for Kindle too…. I will be giving away freebies…


  2. The biggest way WE saved money on our journeys was learning to make things, maintain things and repair things ourselves. When you can’t do it yourself (or won’t) you can easily pay $80.00 and hour and more to have someone else do it. Even if you take 3 or 4 hours when a pro might take an hour, you save – and it’s easier to do it the next time.
    When your cruising kitty runs low, get a job in a working marina – you’ll learn tons of stuff and often get discounts through your employment. Often, your co-workers will help you work on your boat doing jobs which you don’t feel confidant doing, or don’t have the tools or skills to do. Just help the next guy whenever you can. The cruising community has always been a ‘pay it forward’ bunch of folks.
    Happy Cruising!


  3. Great blog, I look forward to reading more! Every year I make a pact to spend less money on the boat. Every year I fail. Boats aren’t for the financial faint of heart, but I can’t imagine not sailing.


    • Hi – thanks for the kind comments, I had a look at your blog, it is great – love the pictures and Palomita is just lovely! Completely understand about a money pit for the boats – just the way it is eh? but like you say, even just going to a marina and stepping on board, reduces the stress levels! I am looking forward to reading more of your adventures! Oh, Happy Thanks-Giving!


  4. For no. 5), Wear and Tear, some boat owners may be able to find used sails to buy from vendors such as Bacon or Minney’s.


    • Hi Pat, that is a very good point. When we were in Newport Beach we were in Minney’s all the time, a wonderful place (with wonderful employees too!) – they had a huge range of sails and many many other things – I don’t know Bacon though.


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