We all have our own comfort zones (that includes all the things that make and keep you happy), and we all have our own
pocketbooks. If you have a passionate desire to give up almost anything and everything to live this dream; and you can live comfortably and be
happy eating rice, beans, pasta and the seafood you catch... And if you are willing to anchor out most all the time vs stay overnight in Marinas...
And if you are capable and willing to do all the necessary maintenance on your vessel... And if you are willing to drink water instead of soda or
beer... And if you smoke cigarettes, willing to stop smoking (or take up a pipe). Then, yes! You can do this on a very frugal boat and budget. The
budget of course, may mean that such things as eating out, visits to a Pub, ice cream, fat juicy burgers and steaks, are all going to be rare
treats. Personally, (although there was a time long ago, I would have) I could not live outside of my comfort zone to make such a year long
sacrifice. I'm just too old for that now.
When it comes to a cruising budget - If I gave 10 couples the exact same size boat with the exact same equipment; and sent them to
Paradise with instructions to come back with a recommended minimum budget for the rest of us to follow - I would get back 10 different budgets
that were just as far varied as the personalities of the boaters involved. That's just the way it is.
Over a full year period of time in 2008, my oldest son and I averaged less than $2,000 per month sailing the Caribbean. While we were
"sailing" and very frugal in many ways, we were not frugal at all in many others. Eating out In fact, is why it costs me much more to spend a year
cruising America's Great Loop, than it does sailing the Caribbean. There are just too many wonderful waterfront restaurants all along the Great
Loop route and I have this compulsion to experience all of them. While cruising through the Caribbean however, restaurants are far and few
between. Regardless of where I am cruising however, I mostly "anchor out". You can do this for free, while staying in a Marina overnight
averages costing about $1.25 a foot times the length of your boat. For me, that's $45 a night for my 36 footer. So I anchor out and take
advantage of my dinghy and free dinghy docks for going ashore during the week. I only stay in Marinas on weekends and in places where there
is lots to see and do nearby.
Also, when cruising in the Caribbean, we are at sea 66% of the time. Which means, we couldn't spend a dime if we wanted to. As a result,
our expenses (for 66% of the time) are ZERO ($0.00) dollars. So obviously, when we were on land we were actually spending a considerable
amount of money. It's almost like living free 2/3 of the time while cruising, and spending all your money 1/3 of the time when on land.
So. . . What is the point of all this?
1. If it makes you happy on land, you need to take it with you to sea. If it is something you won't eat on land, you won't eat it on your
boat either. We all have our likes and our
dislikes. We all have our "must haves"... Being at sea, won't change that.
2. Just like on land, when sailing in Paradise, you still have options and choices to make. (Just not as many as on land.) So, if you love
eating out a lot, you're habits won't change when you are cruising through Paradise. The only difference that might work to your saving
advantage, is that you don't have a Starbucks or all those "convenient stores" at every corner, so there are no "quick stops" for coffee,
beer, Big Gulps, cigarettes, chips, or snacks. You have to plan "all" your purchases well in advance, and this will save you money.
Therefore. . . The real answer to "How much will it cost?" is "How frugal can you be and still be happy?"
For now, and throughout your dreaming, planning, purchasing, and provisioning process - the best you can do - is to get an idea of what it will
cost you when compared to like minded cruisers who have done it, and are doing it. While we will help you answer that "cost" question best we
can... Fact is, aside from the initial cost of your boat (including all your gear, equipment, electronics, radios, computers, etc.) The length of your
boat, together with your own individual lifestyle and comfort zone will constitute the majority of your ongoing cruising cost.
Aside from your "lifestyle and comfort zone" the length of your vessel (even though it is paid for) will determine the majority of your "actual" boat
related cruising costs. Why? because "all expenses" related to and regarding your vessel, is based on the length of your boat. This includes,
Slip fees, overnight docking fees, bottom paint, and it affects replacement parts as well; ie: a bigger boat requires stronger rigging, bigger
anchor with stronger and longer rode. A bigger boat means a taller mast with larger sails. All of this converts into more money. At $1.25 a foot (or
more) for overnight docking, a 32 footer cost you $40.00 plus hook-ups - a 40 footer cost you $50.00 plus hook-ups. Same goes for haul-outs,
haul-ins, and for taking your mast down, as well as putting it back up.
As a result, we always encourage everyone who shares the dream, to:
The biggest mistakes first time cruisers make are; buying too big a boat, buying cheap stuff to go on it or in it, buying too much "stuff"
including food, and buying stuff they don't need.
By "buying cheap" I mean paying good dollars for "cheap" stuff. Believe me... most of the cheap gear, gadgets, and equipment - either won't
work as you expect, won't work at all, or won't work for long. Save all the money you can for cruising, and don't buy anything that is not
absolutely essential to have on your boat. If you want it (or think you want it) anyway - at least wait until you have enough experience "out there"
to make a good decision on whether you really want it or not.
In all cases, regardless of your boat size or comfort zone, we strongly suggest you have an emergency fund to fly you home if need be (from
wherever?). And another for major repairs to your vessel, and yet another, to get you on our feet again - for if, and when you might decide to
move back on land.
|1. Keep your boat, equipment, and gear - small, simple, and sweet.
2. Never buy the biggest boat you can afford - but the very smallest boat you can comfortably live on. For sure, buy a boat small
enough you can handle solo safely.
3. Never-ever go cruising with "Capt. Boat Payment" at the helm. You don't want to be in the middle of Paradise having the time of
your life, with him in control of your fun and freedom.
4. Outfit your boat with only what you need. What you want, and what you "think" you want can always be added later.
Want a great deal on a Radar System? Computer? Ham Radio? Sail to Paradise... I can assure you there is someone in Paradise with
Capt. Boat Payment - willing to sell their "stuff" at 25 cents on the dollar, because they ran out of money.
|What will it really cost you to go cruising?
It is true . . . We simply are not all alike. For sure, what suits me may not suit you at all. The reverse is
also true. Cruising on a Frugal Budget - and just how "frugal" that budget can be - is determined by our
lifestyles, comfort zones, boating philosophy, and of course, our pocketbooks.
From seminars, e-mails, and social events and our websites - the question of money is asked more
frequently than any other. It is a very important concern and it deserves a good honest and straight forward
This year, I firmly believe a couple cruising on a frugal budget can do it successfully on as little as
$24,000 a year. Some (backpacker types) can be happy doing it for much less.
Some of us will require a bit more.
Fact is, truth is . . . Your actual cruising cost will be determined by:
1. The type & size of your vessel
2. Your own lifestyle & comfort zone.
How frugal can you be and still remain happy, and within your comfort zone? This is the question.
|© 2000 - 2017 captainjohn.org
|Ask yourself: Do you dream of the "boat"? Or do you dream of the "voyage"?
|Here's the scoop on how. . .
|Here's the scoop on how much. . .
For cruising America's Great Loop, a full displacement hull,
single engine Trawler will be your very most fuel efficient
Such a Trawler will also get you to the near islands in the
Bahamas & Caribbean, but it won't get you far past the Virgin
Islands for lack of avaliable fuel stops.
If however you plan to cruise deep into the Caribbean and,
or on around the world or around in it - a "Sailboat" is your
only frugal option.
On the financial side, having a fully paid for boat is critical. The
added ongoing monthly expenses related to a boat loan will
result in an increased cost of cruising.
I can not emphasize strongly enough to keep your vessel as
small as you can possibly live comfortably on for long periods of
time. The length of your boat will have a bearing on the cost of
your boat, the cost of cruising, as well as your safety. One's
vessel should absolutely be easily handled by one person in all
In 2015, my son and I were living aboard and cruising the
entire year. We "motored" our 36' sailboat around America's
Great Loop using slightly less than $4,000 in fuel and slightly
more than $4,000 staying overnight on weekends at Marinas.
After completing the Loop we sailed through the Caribbean
Islands to the Turks and returned to Florida after a total of 14
months cruising over 13,000 miles. Our total boat & boat related
expenses came to slightly less than $15,000.
This amount included our entire 14 months living and cruising
on the boat. It included all fuel, Marina, boat & boat related
expenses. Nothing else!
It DID NOT include our food, beverages, entertainment, eating
out, etc. as we figure we have these (as you do) cruising &
living on your boat or not. Whatever your food, beverage and
entertainment budget is now, probably won't change just
because you move onto your boat and go cruising.
Now, keep in mind that this is ALL about living aboard and
cruising on a frugal budget. If you have money to burn, your
options are totally dependant on the size of your pocketbook.
Now comes finding, and selecting your boat. The used boat
market today is full of "live aboard size" vessels at rock
bottom prices. Additionally, when it comes to "sailboats" in
particular, one can (if one wants) find a good, safe, seaworthy
vessel suitable to cruise the Caribbean or on around in the
world for less than $25,000. My son and I purchased a 28'
sailboat in 2010 that took us around the Loop and the full
length of the Caribbean to Trinidad and back (with no
problems whatsoever). We purchased that sailboat for only
$3,000 and our only expense after we bought it was sanding,
painting, polishing. Of which we did the work ourselves.
For sure, if you look hard, you can find a great affordable
boat that will get you where you want to go and back home
again, safely and comfortably.
Yes, with an affordable boat, the majority of your cruising
and live aboard expenses will be dependant on your own
lifestyle. It is mostly about the voyage and what it takes to
keep you happy.
|For all of us:
It's different boats, lifestyles, philosophies, comfort zones