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February 2009

Keeping Costs in Control as you Cruise

One of the post popular seminars we present when we visit occasional boatshows is called "Cost control while you cruise." During it we discuss trying to make your boat unstoppable so that you can sail onward without doing repairs until you reach a place where it is easy and affordable to get parts. Pago Pago in American Samoa, Apia in Western Samoa, New Zealand, these are your best choices. Any part of French Polynesia can be a budget breaker. Steve and Linda on their Bounty 40 Linda definitely reinforced this comment by giving us an exact breakdown of the costs they incurred by having a fuel pump flown in from San Diego to Nuka Hiva.

Fuel Pump $1179.60
Fed Ex charges $654.00
Custom Broker Fee $93.65
Polynesian Yacht Service time
  (clear customs, take to air Tahiti plane)
PYS mark up on Air Freight $ 11.41
Air Tahiti from Papeete to Nuka Hiva $17.50
Courier from Nuka Hiva Air- Port to Taihoe Bay $12.00
Nuka Hiva Yacht Services fee $106.00
VAT (taxes) $22.50
Total $2193.28

Even had they waited to replace this part in Papeete, they would have saved relatively little as they had mail forwarded to them via FedEx 3 day service. A .498 kilogram package (a little over a pound in weight) cost $365.04.

Steve was pretty ticked off at $1000 freight charge for the starter, but was aware from the start that FedEx was going to charge him $654. But when the Fed Ex bill on his mail was only $145 and local fees more than doubled that, he was really mad. Then he learned, if he had waited until they reached Pago Pago, the cost of express postage would have been approximately $14.00 for each package as American Samoa is fully served by the US Post office with airmail delivery three times weekly.  Even in Western Samoa the freight prices would have been less than 25%. Our package of 14 pounds of post sent by FedEx to Apia cost $67.00 and we specified 2-day service (knowing it would take 3 to 5 days due to limited flights.)

Unstoppable boat, i.e. systems which are not dependant on electricity or engine power so you can sail onward even if your engine is not working, or sufficient spares on board to make sure the engine can be repaired without outside assistance, these are discussed in more detail in our book, The Cost Conscious Cruiser.

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