Tor Pinney - All Rights Reserved
much does the cruising life cost? I know people sailing around
the world on less than $5,000 a year, and others who spend ten
times that much. Assuming the boat is fully equipped and paid
off, I'd say the average long-term cruising couple I meet is
spending $10,000 to $25,000 annually, all inclusive. Clearly,
cruising costs vary widely from boat to boat.
factors that most directly affect the variable cost of cruising
are personal life style, maintenance and repair, cruising
grounds, and provisioning.
life style includes how often you pay to berth in marinas, eat
out in restaurants and drink at pubs, rent cars or motor bikes
for sightseeing, travel inland, fly back home or fly family over
for visits, and purchase non-essentials. In these categories
alone, moderation can reduce, and extravagance can increase,
annual cruising costs by many thousands of dollars. This doesn't
mean you must live like a pauper. For example, you can dine out
often in the less expensive countries and do more cooking aboard
in the high-priced places.
or not you insure your boat is also a matter of personal budget
and conscience. If you do, it'll add from 1% to 2% of the boat's
value to your annual cruising costs. Medical expenses are yet
another personal variable.
condition and upkeep of the vessel helps determine cruising
costs. If you sail a fairly new boat, repair parts and labor
will claim a smaller portion of your budget than if the boat and
its gear are older and already well worn at the start of the
voyage. Carrying a large inventory of spare parts saves time and
money when making repairs in foreign ports.
is a key to budget cruising. The crew's ability (or inability)
to perform regular and preventative maintenance, as well as most
repair jobs aboard, significantly effects the cruising kitty.
Hiring skilled labor (when you can find it) is expensive. The
frugal sailor is a self-taught handyman who acquires a working
knowledge of mechanics, sail repair, carpentry, rigging,
electronics, and plumbing.
you sail also makes a big difference. The cost of living aboard
in cruising grounds such as Guatemala, Turkey or Thailand is
much cheaper than in countries like Norway, Italy and Japan.
Also, almost everything costs more on an island because goods
must be imported. Trade winds sailing consumes little engine
fuel compared to summertime cruising in the relatively windless
Mediterranean, for example, where the engine works overtime and
fuel prices are high. Areas with lively fishing grounds can
supplement the food allowance.
bulk provisioning saves money. When you plan to purchase basic
non-perishables such as rice, beans, grains, and canned foods in
quantity (i.e., more than a thousand dollars worth), you can
often strike a deal with a local grocer (or a health-food store
owner) for a discount. Then, while cruising, supplement these
staples with fresh produce and meats from local markets, and
fish from the sea. Otherwise, buying familiar foods may be
difficult and expensive in foreign ports. Prices of maintenance
items such as bottom paint vary enormously from country to
country. Stock up when you find good deals.
frills that a big cruising budget permits are nice if you can
afford them. But the real magic of the cruising life is not
purchased. It is lived. So put away your calculator, cast off
the lines, and go. Because the cost of cruising is nothing
compared to the price of not going.
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