Jackie Parry – author


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Cruising Clinic – Calculate your cruising costs

What does it cost to run a boat? The answer is irritating. The answer is a question.

How much money do you have?

This article is an attempt to help you think about what it may cost. This exercise will guide you towards your potential expenses. However, you cannot forecast equipment failure, taxes, medical emergencies, breakdowns etc.

First off

It is important to remember that an enormous quantity of money does not guarantee success in this lifestyle. A simple boat equals simple costs. The fewer things you make do without, the less you will spend.

Can you 'do without' a mariner and carry your own water?

Can you ‘do without’ a marina and carry your own water?

Regular payments vs ad hoc

At first glance the land-living expenses listed below looks much shorter than the cruising list. However, the land list has regular (monthly/weekly) payments, whereas the cruising list has ad hoc costs. You may have marina costs once a year. You may have few breakdowns/repairs or no medical costs.

1) Make a list of your current (land living) expenses:

Mortgage/rent

Utility Bills

Rates

Insurance

Phone/Satellite TV/Internet

Car (all inclusive costs for our small Barina (5 years ago) was AUS$28 a day!). Click here for cost calculator.

Entertainment (eating out/movies)

Food

Checking in costs can be reduced if you DIY the process and not hire an agent

Checking in costs can be reduced if you DIY the process and not hire an agent

2) Make a list of what you may spend cruising (after boat purchase)

Charts/pilots

Checking in charges*

Cruising Permits/taxes (changes with each year/country)

Marina fees (you may not always be able to anchor out)

Accommodation (can you stay on the boat when hauled out?)

Sight-seeing

Flying home (family emergency)

Gas/LPG/Fuel/Water (in some places you will pay for water)

Shipping in spare parts

Internet/Phone

Car hire (potentially)

Boat insurance (check out this comprehensive guide on boat insurance)

Storage costs (are you renting your house/selling your house, storing possessions)

Transit charges (Panama canal/Suez canal)

Repairs/maintenance/new equipment (25% of the value of your boat is a good budget)

Medical costs

Exchange rate fees/currency variations

Mail forwarding services

Bribes ($20 here and there)

Food (some places it will be incredibly cheap, other places it will be incredibly expensive!)

*Checking in charges can range from $1,000+ (Galapagos, current charges) to nothing. We estimate our checking-in costs for around the world, including cruising permits, but excluding visas, to be around US$2,500. The most expensive (for us) was Sri Lanka (US$200) and least expensive France ($0). However, this was a few years ago! (Galapagos’ charges were under $200 then.)

Can you make your own repairs, or do you need to hire an expert?

Can you make your own repairs, or do you need to hire an expert?

Personal situation

Obviously, you also need to account for your personal situation, for example:

Retired/retirement fund/savings?

Working as you go?

Skills to use while sailing?

Sold up? Still paying mortgage and/or storage?

Just how cheaply can you live?

We have friends who claim they often lived on $1 a day. They caught fish and had a very simple 28 footer. They were expert ‘fisher-people’ and had the know-how (and spare parts) to complete 99% of their necessary repairs. This is quite unusual. You must not rely on catching fish! Also, you would have to be prepared to only use five litres of diesel a year.

Bicycles and dinghies instead of cars and marinas.

Bicycles and dinghies instead of cars and marinas.

Our expenditure

At the top, under SAILING STUFF/FAQ we have listed our expenditure in Ecuador for over a month (Ecuador Expenditure), including our daily jobs. There is also a description of where we started from, ie what we already had on board.

See how others do it

Read more on how to go cruising now: here.

Click here for some interesting examples on actual living costs on various sized boats, by Sail Far Live Free.

Click here for more information of the cost of cruising. (American Sailing Association)

More help

Our book, Cruisers’ AA has over 1,800 tips, tricks, advice & ideas on improving life on board, particularly on saving $$$$s!

Next: Budgeting for a boat – what do I get for my money?

 


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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!