Tuesday, 22 December 2015

How Much Does It Cost to Go Cruising?

There are many variables that play into answering that question. It's a lifestyle choice, living frugally or living it up. How much it costs is closely related to what your budget is and how closely you stick to it, it can mean the difference between luxurious travelling for a short time or making budgeting choices to enable you to travel for years (basically, you will spend what you have because more possibilities are open to you).

Some factors to consider:
  • Where you are sailing, your currency versus the host country currency;
  • How much food costs at the shops / markets;
  • How much fuel costs (and if the sailing conditions are good) AND do you use a freezer, air conditioner or dishwasher that need extra electricity (fuel) to run;
  • How much you eat out (and the cost of eating out); 
  • How much alcohol you drink (and if you choose to drink on board versus at bars); 
  • What kind of land travel you do (flights, car hire, guides, hotels, experiences); 
  • What will you use to navigate - do you need to periodically buy mapping software/ hardware;
  • Whether you stay in marinas or anchor out; and
  • The big one, how much you spend on boat bits and repairs, how much you do yourself  versus pay tradespeople to do and how you balance the decision making.
We decided to tread a fine line. We were only in the cruising gig for about 2 years, but we didn't have a whole lot of cash to splash either. So we judged the big ticket decisions on their merit and splurged on some indulgent activities for those 'once in a lifetime' experiences.

Below is a breakdown of what our spendings looked like over a 12 month period (2014). Noting that at the time we traveled the Australian dollar was king, fetching above or at parity with the US dollar which correlated to a healthy exchange rate with the Malaysian Ringgit, the Thai Baht and the Philippine Peso. Later in the year we traveled east and into the Pacific where we saw our dollar value demise as a global currency, inconveniently as we entered territory ruled by the US dollar and at a stage where the Aussie dollar was beginning its comparative decline (about 80c to the USD). 

Further description of the above categories - 

For us, it was $40K of expenditure. But comparing that to life on land, it covered our housing costs, car, entertainment, food and dining out for a year...and holidays, of course! To offset the spending we worked a bit too, we did some crewed chartering of our own boat, I wrote and sold stories to sailing magazines and our property back home was turning a small rental profit. We could have done better with some of the costs, on returning home to Australia we spent over $5,000 beautifying the boat after a year of hard sailing, much of that could have been done by us (and therefore cheaper) under different circumstances. We also bought some top-of-the-range electronics (to assist us with our job searching) after our previous ones died at sea. Our tourist splurge happened in our month stay in Palau, where one sixth of our total year spending went on world class diving, fresh tuna sushi and beer, where the US dollar reigned and where we never thought we would have the opportunity to return, it also happens to be a kind of natural heaven on earth. 

So the question of cruising costs is complicated, subject to external factors and needs to have some cushion in it for the unexpected! You can get by on less and you can invest more effort in making money, but for us, the limited time of our adventure restricted those opportunities. The trip for us was well worth the expense and money could not buy the amazing adventures we had and beautiful people we met.