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December 2007

What Does Cruising Cost?

I think the following exchange will be of interest to anyone dreaming of voyaging. It is definitely the number one question we are asked at any seminars we present.

To: Paradise Cay Publishing
From: Carl and Katherine McIntosh
Subject: The most important cruising question!

How much money does someone need to take off these days with an open ended return date? The Pardeys I believe I read, left with about $70,000 and haven’t looked back. $350,000 or 4500,000 – What is necessary in this day and age for someone without a pension?
Does anyone still know?

Carl, Canada
Our reply was as follows:
    We set off with $7,500 in the bank back in 1968 – probably the equivalent to $40,000 today. We had only $2,500 of that for cruising, the other $5,00 was put away to serve as boat and health insurance and also to help set us up when we returned. (If we decided to go back after six months as was the original plan.)
     One of the things that has made our cruising especially enjoyable has been the need to work along the way – and many cruisers find the lack of a reason to stop and be part of a place occasionally, leave them exhausted with cruising and constantly moving onward.
    We provide a rough formula for accessing what you might need for a cruising life in The Capable Cruiser, which is, unfortunately, out of print at the moment… “This formula assumes that few people will really change their basic tastes and desires drastically once they settle into cruising. People who liked wine with dinner will still drink wine, people who were avid magazine readers will still buy fresh magazines, people used to living like graduate students will know how to continue living at that level. So if you take your every day, on shore living expenses and subtract all of your automobile costs, two thirds of your clothing expenses, your home rent or mortgage payments, and your mooring costs, then add one third to your food costs, you’ll come up with a close estimate of your eventual cruising costs over an extended period.” In Cost Conscious Cruiser we discuss a lot of ways to keep costs under control. But the main things that determine costs are the size of your boat, your ability to fix or do without any gear that gives problems, your willingness to keep stays in marinas to a minimum and as stated above, your individual tastes.  We know of several folks enjoying cruising on $12,000 a year by keeping their boat small, and their systems and desires simple. We know others who wish they had five times that.
    We wish we could give a more exact figure. One thing we can say for sure – if you wait until you have enough to insure you will be able to cruise on forever, you may never get off cruising. Save enough to taste the waters for a year or so and go now. Then decide how much you’ll need for the next phase of your cruising life.
The reply we got back was interesting:
    Thank you, the advice is muchly appreciated. I watched a National Geographic program earlier this evening and thought how bizarre it is that we as a race have invented alarm clocks and busy work schedules – all things that take away sleep from us and time with the people we want to spend time with. A group of refugees from the Sudan were “rescued” and brought to North America half starving. They found their limited diet in Africa had been healthier than the pop and potato chips and fast food in North America, they also found they were better rested in Africa and had more family time. Though they did not miss having hungry bellies and the constant threat of violent conflict, researchers found that in every other measurable aspect of their lives they felt they were better off in their minimalist existence. I tend to think a simple approach is well suited to my wife and me.



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