Jackie Parry – author


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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.

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CRUISING CLINIC – What’s so great about cruising?

Jackie Parry - author

This was my second question to Noel when we were searching for our first boat – (see the first question here).

At this point I hardly knew the front end of a boat from the back end. I also found the cruising world completely mind-boggling.

Noel’s response to this question, ‘getting to port’, holds a lot of truth (for us). I love being out there but with only two of us on board, after several days of a tag-team match (one is always on watch) it does become tiring. The constant demand on your body to move three-dimensionally, twenty-four hours a day, causes fatigue (the reason most accidents occur). Plus we are always looking forward to exploring our next destination.


What’s it like?

Sailing oceans is not like a plane or car ride. Nothing is certain except a vast puddle of water and a great stretch of sky…

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Cruising Clinic Snippets – Don’t sweat the small stuff

This was advice from a long-term cruiser and a friend.

I had to stop and think about this for a bit. I knew, with just five small words, she’d said something remarkable.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Months of hard growth on the lines - days of cleaning . . . is it worth worrying about?

Months of hard growth on the lines – days of cleaning . . . is it worth worrying about?

What is the small stuff on board?

  •       The laundry (in cold water, by hand)
  •       The blocked loo (marine toilets are renowned for this delightful occurrence)
  •       The entire boat turning into a workshop
  •       Running out of gas in the middle of cooking
  •       Salt saturated cushions that just won’t dry
  •       A lumpy sea
  •       Too much wind
  •       Big waves
Split stuff behind the cooker - is it worth getting worked up about it?

Cleaning behind the cooker – is it worth getting worked up about it?

So when do you ‘sweat’? Well usually you don’t, usually there’s no time.

Maybe you’d sweat during a storm, which can last for days. But, generally ‘sticky’ moments on board are in bursts:

  •       fingers of lightning
  •       winds shifting to create an untenable anchorage
  •       dragging anchor
  •       broken rudder . . .

. . .  these are moments when you may sweat . . . IF YOU HAVE TIME.

Instead of sweating you’ll be too busy doing what’s necessary.

The great thing is, those moments where you don’t have time to sweat are great training for when it really matters.

Rough seas - do what's necessary to make the boat safe, then relax

Rough seas – do what’s necessary to make the boat safe, then relax

Yes, cruising can have its shitty moments, it can be scary, but each challenging moment will build your confidence and faith in your boat and yourself – creating comfort and a more relaxed life that just keeps on improving.

Tomorrow is the next instalment on our CRUISING CLINIC – What’s so great about cruising?

Stop by and let us know what you think.

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Cruising Clinic – How much does cruising cost?

When Noel and I decided to go cruising, as a complete beginner I had two very pertinent questions on my mind. I asked these questions as we hopped on the back of Noel’s motorbike, searching for a boat.

‘So, what’s it going to cost, running a boat?’

He replied, ‘Everything we’ve got.’

A little perplexed, but not yet deterred, I then asked, ‘What’s so great about sailing anyway?’

Noel, with his brutal honesty and years of experience with boats replied, ‘Getting in to port.’

‘Good grief’, I muttered. After about two hours of silence while I digested these little gems, I said, ‘Why do it then?’

Without hesitation Noel responded, ‘It’s the closest thing to freedom I know.’

That did it for me. It was right then that I was sold on the idea. Sixteen years later I still see the wisdom in his answers.

What's so great about sailing . . .?

What’s so great about sailing . . .?

I’ll write about the ‘what’s so good about sailing?’ question down the line. Right now, I guess you’re thinking, ‘well so what?, that doesn’t help me very much.’ However, think about this: cruising WILL cost you everything you have, if you let it.

So, let’s look at the right questions to ask to see if we can make sense of all this:

1) What budget do I have to purchase a boat?

2) What will it cost to run?

3) How will I earn money along the way?

4) How can I save money along the way?

Boats can be as expensive or as cheap as you make them. We find that living on board is a cheaper way to live, but we know how to save money, I am extremely prudent with our dollars and we employ smart tactics. AND you have to start with a good boat, then maintain it – constantly (a job a day, however big or small).

We were still trying to figure out where to stow everything!

We were still trying to figure out where to stow everything!

Now, let’s try and find some answers.

1) What budget do I have to purchase a boat? Whatever budget you have it is extremely likely that you will find a boat you love for a ‘bit’ more and go over your budget. This amount does NOT include:

a) all the unexpected problems found during survey that need to be fixed

b) all the things the vendor neglected to tell you that needed to be fixed

c) all those things that just pop up at inopportune times that need to be fixed

d) on-going maintenance and repairs

e) additional equipment (your own ideas/wants)

Summary: Keep at least 10% of your budget for those unexpected issues.

A job a day kept Mariah ship-shape.

A job a day kept Mariah ship-shape.

2) What will it cost to run? It depends on where you started from. If you are really lucky and have a good, well maintained boat, then it will also depend upon:

a) the size of your boat*

b) amount of use (little use is not always a good thing)

c) your skills (can you maintain it and carry out repairs? Or do you need help?)

d) your time

*(great examples on actual living costs on various sized boats, on Sail Far Live Free: http://www.sailfarlivefree.com/2012/12/what-does-it-cost-to-go-cruising.html)

3) How will I earn money along the way? Be creative. Use the skills you have. Other cruisers need expertise in all areas. We’ll tackle this subject later on too. However, running your own business is not easy on land, don’t expect it to be easy while cruising. You have the added challenge of communications.

4) How can I save money along the way? This is the easy bit – if you are prepared to change your lifestyle.

Stop spending it! Really. Don’t eat out all the time, figure out how to fix stuff yourself. Learn how to get the best bargains on boat equipment, learn how to keep food for weeks and weeks (without a fridge if necessary, we did for nine years), anchor out and avoid mariner fees. I could go on and on, and I did in our book Cruisers’ AA (accumulated acumen). I’ll supply more tips down the line, on each of these subjects.

If this all sounds off putting, well you’ve given up too soon. Cruising life is fantastic, but it is not for everyone. If you like a challenge, can adapt to new situations and want to enjoy your life in a way you never dreamed of – then maybe it is for you.

A good boat to start with & on-going maintenance will ensure you get to all those places you dreamed of.

A good boat to start with & on-going maintenance will ensure you get to all those places you dreamed of.

I’ll write more on all these subjects (1-4) in the coming weeks. Cruisers’ AA (accumulated acumen) covers all this and much more in far greater detail, see www.jackieparry.com for more information – available in paperback & ebook). (Or look at the top of this page and follow the links!)

You can sail to the most wonderful places & experience new escapades!

You can sail to the most wonderful places & experience new escapades!