|Windy underway: cruising is much cheaper when|
you stay on the move. Settling into a marina
means slip fees and all kinds of opportunities
to spend. We're all itching to get moving
north at the end of this winter.
We moved aboard Del Viento the first day of September 2011, sixteen months ago. Since that date, we have been a family of four cruising full-time, and tracking every dime we spend. Not including refit costs, this lifestyle is costing us $2,980 per month, or $35,760 per year. We aim to bring that number down quite a bit. It shouldn’t be too hard once we are spending less time in marinas and we are back outside the U.S. and Canada. (Though we plan to spend nearly all of 2013 in the U.S. and Canada, so it may be 2014 before we see a big dip.)
But let’s look back on the past 16 months. The two biggest expenses for that period were refit costs and food.
While I didn’t include the refit costs in our monthly average, I understand that these are not one-time costs; Del Viento will continue to need repairs and improvements. But I don’t anticipate another year or so where we spend as much money on the boat as we have over the past 16 months ($39,830—and this on the heels of the money we spent before moving aboard).
Following is the list of major things we spent our refit dollars on since September 2011:
- New outboard
- New dinghy
- New chainplates
- New water tanks
- New holding tank
- New instruments
- New injectors
- Turbocharger rebuild
- Stainless welding (stanchions, pulpit, anchor roller)
- New mainsail
- New foil-less furler and code zero
- New interior lights
- New hatches
- New mattress
- New radar and mount
- New mainsail cover
Food is our biggest monthly expense and reflected in our monthly average. In our case, the Food category includes everything involving eating and drinking: a coffee at Starbucks, dining out, alcohol, groceries, and tea at the Empress with my sister over the holidays. Over the past 16 months, we’ve spent an average of $983 per month on all things food. (In Mexico we ate out often and our food expense was reliably between $700 and $800 per month. In Victoria, we seldom eat out and our food costs are always over $1000 per month.)
So $2,980 per month; could a family of four cruise for less? Absolutely, far less, by reducing marina time and cutting back on discretionary spending.
- In Mexico we spent much more time in marinas than we wanted to simply because of the work we were doing on the boat. Slip fees in the U.S. and Canada are high. In the U.S., we chose to visit friends and family in places where anchoring out wasn’t an option. In Canada, we’ve chosen to winter over in a slip (and in an expensive city).
- Here in Victoria, we’ve spent money on gymnastics classes and climbing wall passes for Windy and the girls. We don’t eat out much, but we drink alcohol. And we’ve traveled: Windy went to Thailand for two weeks earlier this year with her brother’s family, Eleanor flew back to D.C. for a week, and Windy and Frances flew back to San Francisco from Mexico.
Fortunately, the only surprise this year (besides the need to replace our water tanks) is about $800 we spent on medical care for an eye problem Frances had (this highlighted for us the cost difference in obtaining health care in Mexico and the U.S.—I wrote about this too).
So that is it in a nutshell—a good look at the cost for this cruising family of four during our first 16 months. It is not likely to be the same for your 16 months, but hopefully the information is helpful to those planning their own cruises. A comprehensive and detailed list of all our costs is on The Cost page, above.
NOTE: the writers at the Sail Far, Live Free blog recently posted a great rundown of cruising costs, citing other cruisers. Too, on our The Cost page, I list other sources of cruisers' costs.