Cruising budgets…

Now, a lot of folks will tell you it costs whatever you have, while others will say that it depends. The fact is that both answers really piss me off and it really bothers me to have to admit that they are correct in a kind of way.

A lot of folks spend all they have to cruise. Even worse, many people spend more than they have and wind up seriously in debt. We’ll come back to these folks later, but no one taught these folks how to budget or live within their means.

As for the “it all depends” folks, they’re right as well to a certain degree, but it reads a lot more like a defense of monetary ineptitude rather than actual unforeseen costs and issues screwing with their budget.

For instance, I hear a lot of excuses about budgets and cruising. Most of which revolve around things breaking, needful purchases, and maintenance issues. Sure, I get it. Everyone sails off to the sunset, not knowing that things might break, you might have to buy something, and that from time to time you’ll have to do a bit of maintenance.


Let’s look at the ‘things break’ mantra. Most things that break or quit working on boats don’t actually break or quit all by themselves, but are mistreated to the point of failure. Get the right gear and treat it like it deserves and you’ll find that things won’t break. Not all that long ago, my mast fell down and went boom. The mast, mainsail, jib, and furler are somewhere on the bottom of the Caribbean in between St Thomas and St Martin. The reason for the fall down and go boom episode was that I really should have reefed and that I should’ve replaced the chainplate that failed. My fault entirely. As a result, I had to build a new mast, build a new rig, and buy new sails. Not a mistake I’ll ever make again.

On the buying stuff subject, didn’t your Mom tell you that stuff costs money? Seriously, how is this a surprise? Didn’t you budget for buying needful stuff and the cost of rice in Antigua is an issue?

Then there’s the whole we had to haul out and put some bottom paint on the boat, change a few zincs, and fix that ding from the time you hit a buoy coming into a dark anchorage in the middle of the night escapade. Hardly sounds like a budget killer, but apparently a lot of folks do.

OK yeah, I’ll admit that the cost of things is depressing these days, but it’s not like you don’t have a brain with the ability to adapt and prepare a budget that will see you through.

When we lost our mast, I costed a new mast, and the quotes were just silly. Luckily, building a wood composite spar was within my skill-set, rigging was dead simple, and we have a sewing machine and access to affordable sail makers. The bottom line was that by doing all the work and fabrication, the rig was a fraction of buying a new mast or having the labor done.

Since I see a trip to Europe and back in the not-too-distant future, I’ve been monitoring the various costs involved. I know what groceries or fuel cost in Europe. I’m aware of various Schengen issues and costs associated with them. By the way, did you know Albania requires our boat to use a clearance broker to clear in and it costs 55 euros?

Simply doing your homework goes a long way to making a useful budget that will both save you money and keep your cruising surprise free.

More on budgets and numbers in the next post…

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