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Cost of Cruising: Our March 2017 Budget

Cost of Cruising: Our March 2017 Budget

Photo courtesy of our friends on SailingTotem

This month’s budget recap is brought to you by… Michael! (Brittany usually writes it). Let me know if you think it’s entertaining/funny/awesome.

And to compliment it, I’ve made up this fancy chart breaking down our expenses by category. Cool, right? We really enjoyed our $1,500 month, and the key to that is setting a budget beforehand. So we made a new budget tracker in Excel and we set our budget at $3,284.14 (the odd number is because of some fixed expenses such as web hosting, most of the categories are just educated guesses).

Boat repair / misc – $1,289. The windlass (the electric motor that pulls up the anchor) was functioning, but we wanted to have it checked out. This is a critical piece of equipment that seems to get ignored until it breaks most of the time. We took the motor to an alternator shop and it only cost about $120 to have it looked over. The heat exchanger had a few leaks and needed to be rebuilt ($230). New hoses for the engine ($158). The mixing elbow for the exhaust had a leak and we had a new one made ($190). That, plus some spare anodes, fluids, filters and a few tools.

The salt stains are from a leak.
This had a very small leak, but it was dripping right onto the engine mount.
Marlee helping out with the windlass removal.

Dockage – $370. Because of the engine and windlass repairs, we didn’t feel comfortable at anchor. If we dragged or for some reason needed to move, we would be completely disabled. So we took a ridiculously expensive mooring in Fort Lauderdale. Seriously, never go to Las Olas Marina. Ever. Overpriced and run down. 8 nights at $40 a night. Also, unlike Vero Beach, there isn’t really anywhere convenient to land your dinghy for free. We had our choice of Las Olas marina who charges $20, or Southport Raw Bar who charges $10 (but will credit that to your food bill, if you eat there). Southport is where we went most of the time, $50.

Flying her kite in the mooring field.

Groceries, $1165.83. We went way over budget on groceries, namely because of a friend of ours who was in the Bahamas already warned us, buy everything you can in the States! So we did. This killed the budget for this month, but hopefully will repay us as we travel along. As we have found so far groceries seem to be about twice as expensive in the Bahamas.

Fuel – $286.11. With gas and diesel at over $4/gallon in the Bahamas, we topped up as much as we could in Florida. We filled the tank to full and all of our jerry cans as well.

Our sophisticated “dipstick” method for checking the fuel level.

Travel – $320.83. This category includes clearance into the Bahamas ($300) and a few Uber trips in Ft Lauderdale.

And of course there are those recurring expenses, web hosting (12.74). Phone which usually comes in around $80 with T-Mobile. We weren’t planning on buying a BTC phone card in the Bahamas, since our T-Mobile service claimed it would work here. Well it works, but is deathly slow so we bought a high speed data card from BTC for those times we just can’t wait. $49. However we’ve even found BTC’s service to be spotty.

Cost of Cruising: Our February 2017 Budget

Cost of Cruising: Our February 2017 Budget

Finally a budget I am proud to share! This is much more representative of where we’d like to settle in as far as spending money goes. We’ve also been so encouraged by YOU- your comments to us that sharing our budget with you has helped you plan for your own cruising adventure! Thank you! It can be so hard to plan for something when you have no idea what it will be like. Granted, it will be different for each family, but we’re glad we can share a little piece of what we’re doing, helping others realize that you do not have to be wealthy to go cruising.

Motor sailing about 1.5 miles off shore

The amount of money we’re spending each month is going down, which is exactly what we want it to do and what we’ve been told is typical. You’ll spend a lot in the beginning (maybe even more than we have) but that it will get easier and hopefully cheaper as the months progress. Here’s the details of the month of February:

All amounts are in US dollars for a family of five

Dock fees (actually mooring fees) $195.65 – After spending a crazy amount on docks in December, we vowed never to do that again. We anchored the entire month of January, but this month we ended up being moored for a short period of time. A mooring ball is a floating ball attached by rope to something really heavy in the water. It’s not going anywhere. Then, you attach your boat to a rope on the floating ball. Moorings are cheaper than tying up to a dock, but you still get access to the marina (their showers, lounge and washers/dryers). It’s a good compromise if you don’t want to be anchored, but don’t want to spend the money on docks. And dock fees in south Florida can be really expensive! The moorings we’ve used can be anywhere from $15.00 to $40.00 a day. We also spend a little on dinghy dock fees. Basically, when you are anchored and want to go to shore or use a nearby marina, they ask you to pay a fee just to tie your dinghy up. Sometimes this fee includes access to their showers and laundry facilities, sometimes not.

Ft. Lauderdale

Groceries $813.93 – This includes about $155 worth of groceries we put away in long term storage for our planned cruise to the Bahamas. We’ve heard food is really expensive there, so we want to stock up on some essentials and foods that might be hard to find.

Eating out $148.08 – This is a little much for us on eating out. We can usually comfortably have a couple of meals out a month for less than $100.

Boat parts and projects $207.87

Cash $50.00 – $20 of this was changed into quarters and used for laundry. This amount is typical if we do some laundry by hand on the boat as well. $12.00 of this cash was also used for two different dinghy dock fees.

Cell phone $80.04 – One phone for me and my husband with unlimited data plan.

Insurance $0 – Still in the market for an affordable travel insurance.

Marlee’s Birthday $26.76 – A few party supplies and a trip to Funderdome!

An indoor playground for Marlee’s birthday

Kindle books $12.83 – Paid for one month of kindle unlimited (kind of like a digital library service) plus a couple of .99 books.

Web hosting $12.74 – for our two websites, Family at Sea and my land based blog, The Gentle Home.

EZ pass $12.00 – an EZ tag fee we needed to pay.

Total = $1,559.90


Cost of Cruising: Our January 2017 Budget

Cost of Cruising: Our January 2017 Budget

It is halfway through February, but I am finally finishing this post on how our budget fared in January. In January we decidedly changed one thing about our budget: we would stop docking at marinas! We spent too much on marina fees in December, and we knew we could not keep that up. Since January 1st, we have not stayed at one marina or even a mooring field. We have been very happy with this decision and we know it has saved us money and caused us to learn how to live on a boat more sustainably.

Our beautiful view at anchor

Our month of January was mostly spent anchored in St. Augustine, Florida. It was the longest we had stayed in one place, and we also had the ability to pick up packages from a friend’s marina, so we were taking advantage of that and ordering things we needed while we were there. We were also in St. Augustine recertifying our life raft, so January was a “big” month for expenses, unfortunately. Three things to keep in mind for our budget: 1) We put aside about $10,000 to spend on major expenses, like the life raft, to get us started in this lifestyle. We finished spending that amount in January. 2) We jumped into living aboard and traveling right away instead of working and outfitting the boat while on land, as many do, so our budget reflects that, and 3) We are a family of five with growing children!

Ready to explore downtown St. Augustine

We are hoping that we can learn how to live off of less than what we are right now. I’ll be honest, I’m sure we’ve spent more than we sometimes needed to, just because this is all so new for us! We are learning what we need and what we don’t need, and how to get by without things that we were used to.

Here’s how we did:

All amounts are in US dollars.

Dock fees $10.00 – This was for one day to tie up our dinghy at the municipal dinghy dock in St. Augustine. This fee also allowed us access to showers and laundry facilities. (We still had to pay for the laundry machines).

The art district

Groceries $1,085.31 – We had access to a car in St. Augustine, so we made a trip and spent a few hundred dollars more on extra provisions.

Laundry $44.25 – Laundry was a little more expensive there.

Cell phone $84.72 – This is for one phone plus unlimited data.

Eating out/Entertainment $105.47 – This is slightly higher than what we normally spend, but still good in my book. We did not pay for one museum in St. Augustine (and there are many!) so we were pleased with the fun things we did that didn’t cost anything. It would have been easy to spend a lot of money there, but we are glad we didn’t.

Couldn’t pass up Cousteau’s Waffle and Milkshake Bar!

Gas/Diesel $319.09 – We have motored on the same tank of gas since North Carolina, and finally refilled our tank in Florida. The gas is for our generator and dinghy engine.

Hosting service for our websites $12.74

Medical insurance $0 – Right now we are in between and are deciding what to do for insurance coverage.

Boat parts and maintenance $516.63 – We worked on a few boat projects and maintenance issues.

Misc items $173.75 – pillows, water jugs, cleaning products, matches and lighters, extra dental care items, a couple of clothing items and a present for a friend plus a few other random items falls into this category.

Total = $2,351.96


*Not included in this total is the recertification of our life raft which cost about $930 (still cheaper than buying a new one). And roughly $1,000 on items we felt would be necessary and fun for our lifestyle on a boat! This includes a stand-up paddle board, stinger suits and a climbing harness for the girls, flippers, a wet suit and snorkel gear for Mike, more natural sunscreen, spare parts for the boat, and an amazing wagon for walking with the girls and carrying provisions back to the boat.

We love our wagon!

Stayed tuned for our February budget soon!




Cost of Cruising: Our December 2016 Budget

Cost of Cruising: Our December 2016 Budget

Where we stayed in Charleston Harbor for one week

What a month we have had! It has been our first full month of traveling, and we have been so excited to be able to travel this month with the family aboard s/v Totem, encouraging and experienced world sailors! It has been a month of challenges, interesting new places, and wonderful new people. Here is what it cost us, a family of five aboard a 47′ sailboat, to cruise for the month of December. Overall, we spent less than last month, but we are eager to lose the marina fees in January, now that we are in warmer climates!

A gorgeous December sunset in Charleston, SC

All amounts are in US dollars

Dock fees- $1,006.15 Ouch. We were not planning on spending this much at marinas. Partly to blame was the cold. We wanted to plug into shore power from time to time so we wouldn’t have to run our generator constantly to keep our heater going. It was often freezing, overcast, foggy or damp so the marinas also offered us a way to do laundry consistently too. Half of this was just for one marina in Charleston, SC which we stayed at for one week as a way to relax and take a break from travelling.

Groceries- $673.48

Eating out- $87.76

Diesel- $111.55

Gas- $11.00

Phone service- $83.24 This is for one phone with unlimited data so we can have more reliable and unlimited internet.

Hostgator blog service- $12.74

Medical co-sharing payment- $465.30 Our current form of medical insurance while we are in the US (See Samaritan ministries for more information).

Laundry- $31.50 One marina offered free laundry and we found that the marinas that did charge, charged much less than laundromats.

INavX- $35 A navigation app for our iPad.

Navionics charts- $49.99 Charts of the USA for the INavX app.

Books- $3.09 A few books from a local library’s books for donation (Basically you can take a book as long as you donate a small amount to the library, typically .50 for paperback books, and 1.00 for hardback books) and a little spent on my Kindle.

More winter gear- $59.47 We were not fully prepared for the lasting cold! It’s one thing to be cold, it’s another to be cold and have the wind on your face while you’re at the helm for several hours at a time. We went to Walmart and bought 4 more pairs of thick gloves, 2 scarves, more socks for the girls, and a warm head wrap.

Cold! Before we bought scarves, we used fabric I had on board

Sightseeing- $44.00 While in Charleston, South Carolina we visited the U.S.S Yorktown, an air craft carrier, which also included a visit to a battleship destroyer, and a submarine. We spent nearly 4 hours looking at some amazing history and didn’t even finish the entire tour. The best part was all the kiddos got in for free and it was located next door to the marina we were at- just a walk down a dock!

Bottom cleaning- $120.00 While in Coinjock, NC, we hired a diver to scrape clean the bottom of the hull (the underside of the boat). What a difference it makes! We saved diesel and made better time in the water after we did this.

Boat maintenance- $11.00 A huge difference from last month, we didn’t do as nearly many boat projects and didn’t need as many things fixed. When we did, we used what we had on board as best we could.

Presents for the girls- $44.08 As a family, we’re finding our own rhythm as far as which traditions we want to keep and which we want to trade for new ones. We didn’t celebrate Christmas this year, but instead I gave Marlee and Hannah presents to celebrate our first overnight passage. It gave them something to look forward to and kept them busy. That was about one third of this amount. The other two thirds of this amount includes gifts I went ahead and bought and am saving for events in the next few months. I also like to have surprises on the boat, hidden away in case of a rainy day.

Total cost for December = $2,849.35







How Much Does it Cost to Go Cruising? Our November Budget

How Much Does it Cost to Go Cruising? Our November Budget


How much does it cost to go cruising? How much does it cost to live on a boat? These are questions we’ve wondered about many times. It was so helpful to find other cruisers who were willing to share, what some might call private information, openly and willingly. We loved finding bloggers who posted their monthly budget while cruising so much that we told ourselves, when the time came, we wanted to do the same. So for anyone dreaming of cruising and interested in the costs of cruising, this is for you.

However, one thing I must mention first is this: you can go cruising on any budget. I read this from other cruisers over and over again. It’s just a matter of what is important to you, and what you are willing to live with and perhaps even compromise on. Some cruisers wouldn’t dream of setting sail without certain things that other cruisers wouldn’t miss at all. It’s just a matter of preference, lifestyle and budget.

This monthly look at our expenses doesn’t include the cost of the boat – that’s something my husband can easily (and eagerly) write an entire post about. So we’ll save that for another time. What we wanted to share here is just what we spent this month living on our boat.

To give you an idea, we estimated spending about $2,000 US dollars a month. This is a very general average. We hope that many times we will spend less than this. As you’ll about to see, this month was an above average month, but we expected that with the initial boat repairs and boat items we needed. Also we do not expect to pay for marina fees very often. Marina fees/dock fees can add up fast and take a big chunk out of the cruising kitty (savings). Our plan instead is to stay in anchorages, which are free.

This budget begins when we arrived at the marina November 7th, so this doesn’t include things like the hotel we paid for on the road trip here, but just know there were additional costs of moving across the country to get here.

November 2016

All amounts are in US dollars.

Marina monthly fee $503.01

Electricity — From the house we left- this was for the previous month while we were living there. This will not be a recurring expense. $134.21

Cell phone bill $83.25

Medical co-sharing payment — Our current form of medical insurance while we are in the US (See Samaritan Ministries for more information) $470.25

Groceries $929.04 — This is about $300 more than we would normally spend on land, but we bought extra food a) while we had a car b) to stock up on specific items that I knew I couldn’t get at just any grocery store c) to have extra after we leave the dock. We don’t plan on spending this much each month.

Eating out $80.14 — This includes when we went out for our anniversary dinner.

Diesel fuel for the boat $93.96

Propane $7.95

FCC operating license for the SSB radio $70.00 — A one time expense.

Portable generator $869 — To charge our batteries when we are away from power. We have a wind generator and solar panels that came with the boat so we were pretty lucky not to have any other large expenses for power.

Boat supplies and hardware $479.36 — This includes many, many things. Anything from parts to repair the head (toilet), eye bolts, plunger, ditch kit supplies, zip-ties, to fishing supplies, a haircutting kit, a small vacuum, small kitchen items and much more. Just anything we needed to fix, repair, improve or have on board. We do not anticipate spending nearly this much every month on supplies and boat projects. We think of it as our “starting up costs.”

Boat insurance $166.67 — We paid an entire year’s worth of insurance up front, but this is the amount it would be if we could have paid the amount per month for one year.

Small heater for the boat $16.90

Laundry facilities $30.00 — This is what we spent for a total of three times (once a week) going to the laundromat. During the week we washed by hand as many clothes as we could.

Gas for the car $40.00 plus a little

Things we’ve received for free- a car to borrow (from a friend back on land), sailing books, work gloves, bimini cloth, a pump second hand for super cheap and a bottle of wine. Other cruisers have certainly lived up to the cruising community’s reputation of being helpful in any way they can!

Total for November = $3,973.74

We hope this is helpful!