Yes, I consider myself a very frugal voyager. . . Possibly the best there is. To me however, being frugal doesn't mean
you have to 'rough it' or do without the things you want and need. I certainly don't! For me, "frugal voyaging" is all about "more
fun than fuel" and that's it! It is spending more money on yourself than on your boat and 'boat related' expenses.
I can not stress enough how remaining in your 'comfort zone' is critical when living on a boat (cruising or not). If you are not comfortable
and unable to maintain the lifestyle you are accustom to, you won't be a happy boater. For example, my 'comfort zone' includes my eating out. I
love to stop at most all the tempting and interesting looking waterfront restaurants, outdoor cafés, and take in an occasional fine dinning
experience. I also enjoy seeing the sights and meeting people. For me and my budget, the opportunity "at sea" to "eat-out" doesn't present itself
all that often. Therefore when I do make landfall, I can enjoy the food, the people and the places I visit. I save a lot of money when sailing. This is
why it costs much more for me to cruise around America's Great Loop, than it costs to voyage through the Caribbean - as there are daily
opportunities to eat out when cruising the Loop and rare opportunities to do so cruising the Caribbean.
The point I wish to make here is... That far above and beyond anything else... The size of your vessel, together with your lifestyle and
comfort zone, will determine your long-term cruising cost. So when estimating your voyaging budget, you must consider what it takes to keep you
comfortable and happy. If it is something you need on land, more than likely - you will need it at sea. If on the other hand, it is something you
won't eat, wear, or use on land - you won't eat it, wear, or use it at sea either. It is "your" lifestyle, your comfort zone and even at sea you need to
budget for it. Aside from your "lifestyle" your choice of boat will determine your major expense of living aboard and cruising. A bigger than
necessary boat will cost you more money. A "power" boat of any kind will cost you a substantial amount of money, and in fact can be a real
budget (and therefore dream) buster.
I know several cruising couples that cruise from Paradise to Paradise, and when they get there the first thing they do is check into a hotel.
For them, paradise is a long hot bath, watching TV and ordering room service. If that is how you picture Paradise all you have to do is have the
money and budget for it. On the other hand, if your dream is the travel and adventure, and you are comfortable living on your boat and taking
full advantage of all the 'free' sight seeing adventures and places you can go - this can be an extremely affordable and wonderful experience,
What's the minimum cost? With the right type, size frugal boat - one that is fully paid for (no boat payments!), one can cruise
America's Great Loop, the Caribbean, or on around in the world for $12,000 a year in "boat related" expenses. That ONLY covers your boat,
fuel and boat related expenses! It does NOT include any food, beverages, ice, clothing, toiletries, on shore excursions,
entertainment, Cellphone, Internet, or Insurances of any kind. Think of it as your cost for transportation & lodging ONLY!
Since we all have our own lifestyle, comfort zones and pocketbooks, and because that determines our needs, wants and what keeps us
happy, I can not predict what your 'cost of living' or what it cost to keep you happy. Therefore, I don't even try to tell you what it is or should be. I
do know that in the right type boat such as a sailboat or very economical trawler, one can keep their "boat, fuel and boat related" expenses to
about $12,000 a year, if one so needs and desires. That's equal to $33.00 a day for your cost for "transportation & lodging". So to that, you
must add what it cost you to be healthy & happy; and what ever that amount is on land, it won't change on your boat!
Now, having said that, I will tell you I live and cruise full time on a 36 foot sailboat on which I "motor around" America's Great Loop with the
last two voyages averaging less than $25.00 a day for my total "boat, fuel & boat related expenses.
However. . . I anchor out (it's free) versus dock in a Marina at least 5 nights a week. I can cruise 6,300 miles on less than 1,000 engine
hours burning less than 1,500 gallons of fuel. Last year my fuel cost me pennies shy of $4,000. I also took advantage of 42 'free' complimentary
'transient boater' slips in various Marinas and paid $3,772 for an additional 92 nights in other Marinas. The rest of the time I anchored out for
free. Add to that my Canal fees and miscellaneous 'boat related expenses, and my last voyage around the Loop total "boat related" expenses
amounted to an average of $24.10 a day for the entire year. Take note however, I was only actually cruising 135 days. The rest of the time was
spent lingering at interesting destinations along the way.
So. . . When you consider $24.10 was my total cost for transportation and lodging for a year. . . That's pretty frugal in my book! Certainly
about one-third the cost of staying in a Motel 6 and going no where!
Now that I've said that. . . Let me add; the reason my boating philosophy is "More Fun than Fuel" is that I spend a bundle having fun. I am
one that "eats to live" when on the boat, but I "live to eat" when on shore - I therefore eat out a lot, and I don't do 'fast food'. I also take
advantage of all the interesting things to do and see in destinations where I stop. Therefore, 'my fun' costs me many times over that of my boat
and boat related expenses.
| Voyaging on a frugal budget is easy to do. Most 'singles' are extremely frugal and frugal voyaging couples make up 61% of all
the voyaging boaters. For most... Voyaging on a frugal budget either means staying out Many frugal voyagers have no intention of ever again
living on land (and this includes me). The key to frugal voyaging success is simplicity, self-sufficiency, and staying within your comfort zone.
To accomplish this:
1. Your vessel and all equipment on it, needs to remain simple.
2. Your vessel needs to be safe, seaworthy and totally self-sufficient.
3. Your vessel should be absolutely 'as small' as you can comfortably live on.
4. You must be able to maintain your lifestyle and remain in your comfort zone.
1.) The fuel (wind) required to take you around the world, or anywhere you want to go, is free.
2.) Their boat is fully paid for, and thus their living quarters and the roof over their head is free.
3.) Aside from a bit of insurance, maintenance, and auxiliary power - your food and entertainment will be
your major expenses, and much of your food might come from the sea.
Give careful thought when planning the food, restaurant and entertainment portion of your budget. If you
like to eat-out as much as we do, this could easily become a major budget item. For me and my son, we
enjoy travelling meeting the local people and experiencing all the local cuisine. Also, you should be aware
that there is a "world" of free "stuff" all over this planet. From historic landmarks, to Forts, Castles, Caves
and from breath taking islands to the Great Pyramids... it's all free - you just have to get there - and sailing
will get you there free.
|Your "comfort zone" is critical.
| Every sailing vessel designed and built to live aboard and capable of world cruising has a series of components:
electrical, sail and rigging, steering, navigation & communication, power generation, freshwater and fuel, etc. While some
people would love to "have-a-go" at all this "stuff" - while sailing off to Paradise; many more of us fear and doubt that we are
"technically or mechanically" able to handle it. (But we are... If we keep it simple.)
Despite it all, sailing itself is really very simple and very easy to learn. It requires a boat with a slick bottom, a mast, some cloth, and a tiller (or
steering mechanism) - and a bit of wind.
With over 25 years of living aboard and cruising full time, I can honestly say that all these doubts and fears are legitimate concerns. We all
have had them, but when you ask the ones who have actually sailed across the ocean, what advise they have for those that are about to do
it... The two top recommendations will always be:
1. Buy a simple boat with simple components and simple systems that are easy to operate by a single person.
2. Buy a boat that is easy to sail and maintain.
3. Don't buy the biggest boat you can afford, but the smallest boat you can live on comfortably.
That's right! The old "KISS" routine of "Keep It Simple Sailor" philosophy is probably never so important then when you are hundreds of miles
from land, and on your own to make repairs or make do with what you have. Keep it simple... If ever in your life you need to heed to this
suggestion - it is in your choice of boat, and the essential equipment you attach to it. Every "essential" piece of equipment in or on your boat
needs to be designed to provide you with simple, straightforward, carefree, stress free, voyaging.
| What is a sailboat if not a small perfect self-contained environment?
Harnessing the wind, takes us across oceans... A frugal sailing couple can travel the world and live for years without dumping
more than a few hundred dollars in their auxiliary motor's fuel tank. There is a tremendous satisfaction to having all the systems
on board up and running. Checking over the rigging to eliminate a source of chafe, fixing a leak in the water system, changing
oil, keeping your vessel clean - it is the simple things like this, that help achieve and maintain self sufficiency.
Don’t worry if you can’t strip down and rebuild a diesel engine - it is a very rare occurrence, and one of which you will probably
never have to deal with it. (In 40 years of cruising, I have never come across a single sailor with diesel engine problem in a sailboat. So, if
you do have problems, you should have a planned contingency fund for these type of repairs. It is a rare cruiser who does not have at least a
minimal level of comfort with normal engine and shipboard maintenance and repairs. Of course this all relates to the cruising budget, and a
competent "handy man" type sailor will obviously save on his repair budget.
It is all about "self-sufficiency". Get comfortable with basic repairs and tools needed for your vessel. Get good tools for these repairs if you don’
t already have them. The boat repair end of the budget could get quite out of hand during extended cruising if you don't keep up with the small
stuff and simple things.
Examine your ground tackle and consider upgrading if you don’t totally trust it. The basic light tackle that comes with new boats and carried by
weekend sailors, will be woefully undersized in the middle of an anchorage of world cruisers.
When I speak of "frugal voyaging" I am speaking of a financial choice - NOT a matter of bad financial circumstances or the result
of an impoverished situation. While owning and cruising on your own boat can be surprisingly affordable - it is however, not cheap! The two
most important factors that will determine your actual cost of living aboard & cruising (even after your boat is completely paid for) will be your
choice of boat. It is critical to keep in mind, the moment you select your boat, you have selected your long term cost of cruising and
ownership. Your safety, budget, lifestyle, comfort zone, boating philosophy are all key factors to consider.
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Don't be mislead. . . It takes a lot of money to go cruising long distance on a Frugal boat & budget. Everything on,
in and about your boat must be in ship shape. Preventive maintenance is "frugal" maintenance. Emergency repairs,
boat towing and or a boat rescue can cost a small fortune!