Talking cheap seats…

Not too long ago a friend mentioned that they could do a $500-a-month budget but chose not to because they can afford to spend more and they desire a certain level of comfort…

Different courses for horses and all that but I’ll quibble with a portion of that statement because, no matter how creatively I crunch the numbers, I can’t really see how they could live on a $500-a-month budget simply because they have the wrong boat at 42-feet. The size of the boat is a huge factor in being able to sustain a frugal budget.

In my experience, most people have to haul out every two or three years and it’s a good example to compare costs…

Last time I looked, Independent Boat Yard in St Thomas charges $14.25 per foot to haul/launch and $1.85 a foot for lay days.

So, with a 42-foot boat that works out to $598.50 H/L and $77.70 per lay day and, for sake of argument let’s say you’ll be on the hard for two weeks. That comes to a minimum of $1686.30 ($1087.80 + $598.50) plus all the hidden costs (like chocking/electricity/water/showers) they never quite tell you about till it’s time to splash.

How about a 34-foot boat? That’s $484.50 for haul/launch and $62.90 per lay day so a two-week haul would be around $1365.10 ($484.50 + $880.60).

A 30-foot boat?  With haul/launch at $427.50 and $55.50 per lay day that comes to $1204.50 ($427.50 + $777).

At this point I don’t think I have to point out that hauling your boat is an expensive affair no matter what size boat you have…

But, the reason you’re hauling out is to put paint on your bottom and good antifouling paint is not cheap. Depending on how lavish you are with the paint you’re more than likely spending at least $175 a gallon. My 34-foot boat uses 2 gallons of paint for three good coats. Which adds another $350 to my bill plus expendables (rollers/sandpaper/etc). I’d expect a 42-foot boat would be at least four or more gallons while the 30-footer might be able to get by with just one gallon.

It all adds up…

So, what does that do to the budget? Based on a three year interval between haulouts let’s just say the 42-foot boat spends $2500 on their haul out and paint so that works out to about $69.45 a month in their budget just for the antifouling portion of their haulout and we haven’t even begun to factor in engine work, rigging jobs, topsides paint touch ups and all of the other things we tend to do in the mayhem that coincides with hauling the boat out of the water and “doing some work”

Sadly, it’s not much better for a 34-foot boat either as that works out to $47.65 a month in bottom paint related maintenance costs which is why I can’t survive on the $500-a-month budget either without jumping through some serious hoopage and resorting to some very (dare I say it) cunning plans.

Meanwhile the guy on the 30-foot (or smaller) boat is pretty much in the $500-a-month comfort zone but more about that soonish…

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3 thoughts on “Talking cheap seats…”

  1. In my neck of the PNW, you "could" live on the hook and be fairly inexpensive.. to a point. At some point you will have to go ashore for food, work, etc. that means a dinghy. Where do you think you are going to park that dinghy? nowhere free for very long without it getting stolen or confiscated. so even if you pay for the absolute cheap mooring just for the dinghy each day you are probably going to have to pitch out $100 a month. If you moor at the marina you can get a 30 footer by for around $200… but most marinas are going to charge extra for live aboard. And you will have to have insurance.

    as for prorating the cost of haul out over 2 years.. I **guess** if you had a flat bottom boat (scow?) you could beach it on some logs at high tide and work on it yourself. Depends on the EPA goons in your area.

    Won't even go into the cost of electricity in the marina to stay warm in winter. or propane/diesel if living on the hook.. (you did say he liked his comfort)

    I know a few folks who only have $700/MO income and they have to supplement with side work, under the table, barter, etc.. groceries alone will eat up a big chunk of that $500 budget.

  2. Don't recall saying it was easy and the fact that haulouts and bottom paint are just one single element of the costs of cruising shows just how hard it can be…

    That said, I should also add that we're talking about cruising here and not living aboard as adopting a nomadic mindset can go a long way to reducing a lot of those costs.

  3. Well said, RWL!

    We've been averaging slightly less than $500/mo for the last 25 years. In the PNW mostly following TMM's strategy (livng aboard shoal draft vessels on the hook).

    This has included saving for and building five liveaboards, and numerous expensive trips to Europe (at a year's worth of other costs per trip) to visit family. In other words, we live far beyond our actual cost-of-living.

    A big help is coppered bottoms, which have saved us a bundle (for reasons you detail. Zero yard fees/bottom paint.

    Second has been pursuing subsistence and DIY cuisine.

    Third has been preventative and DIY medical, hiring professionals (mainly dentists, to date) only where their skills are beyond our reach.

    We're also looking toward DIY 'security' for old age, backed by an exit attitude and strategy.

    All of these reduce OVERHEADS, which I see as key to frugal living.

    While one budget threshold won't fit all, we CAN say that an economical lifestyle can be far from spartan. To live large; to eat well, live actively and indulge oneself in ample pleasures doesn't require a heap of money.

    Dave Z

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