Costs of Cruising

The standard answer when someone asks, "What does cruising cost?" is "Whatever you've got." Amusing, perhaps, but not very helpful to someone who's trying to figure out what it's going to take for them to be able to live this particular dream.  Fortunately, several bloggers have published what they actually spend, tips on how to save money while cruising, and their thoughts on cruising and money matters.  While this is incredibly helpful, you also need to know a bit about their life circumstances, location, boat type, style etc. as there's no "right" answer to how much it costs.

One approach to planning your own cruising costs might be to read numerous posts from different bloggers, so we've compiled a range here at The Monkey's Fist for you to check out. Let us know what you think – are people spending more or less than you thought? How does it fit in with what you currently spend or plan to spend out there cruising?

Dan and Jaye (Life Afloat) have a budget that came in middle-of-the-road (Cost of Living ... Afloat) with their numbers being remarkably consistent to today, but Jaye really wonders, How LOW (-cost) Can You Go?

Ellen and Scott (The Cynical Sailor and His Salty Sidekick) have been tracking every penny they spend in a series of posts (How Much It Costs) about their time cruising in New Zealand on their old boat and now living aboard their new boat in Florida.

Tate and Dani (Sundowner Sails Again) cut the dock lines in New Orleans in January 2015 and spent the next twelve months exploring Key West, Cuba, Mexico and Panama on their Westsail 32. They detail their monthly cost of cruising (12 Month Cruising Costs, Jan to Dec 2015), averaging only $1800 per month during their first year.

Bruce and Tammy (Things We Did Today) asked the question, How Much Does Cruising Cost?, and the answer for their first year was $50,674. They hoped that their cost of cruising would come in lower during their second year (The Cost of Cruising: Dos Libras' Second Year), but they ended up spending $62,874, in part due to some major upgrades that they did.

Verena and Mike's (Pacific Sailors) costs for cruising Mexico for 16 months averaged $2222 per month (Cruising Expenses) and they also very helpfully explained the steps they took to get their finances in shape to go cruising (How Can We Afford This?).

Dwyer (Voyage of the Rascal) doesn't describe his budget, but he does describe the process of How To Retire At 25 and Live the Dream.

Phil and Aimee (Sailing With Terrapin), along with their two daughters, are currently cruising in Mexico. They show a lot of variation month-to-month as they track their Cost to Cruise, which also includes costs associated with any overland trips that they take.

Matt and Jen (s/v Perry) have cruised in the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal and are currently in New Zealand, along with their two children. They share details of the costs involved in purchasing and refitting their boat, a 1992 Jeantot Privilege 48 catamaran, along with their cost of cruising (When You Add It All Up, It Seems Like a Lot). And they also answer the question everyone wants to know, Did You Win the Lottery?

Byn and Patrick (Oh Sail Yes), along with four teenagers, two dogs and one cat, are currently cruising in the Bahamas aboard their tirmaran. On their Cost of Cruising page, you can find details of the cost of buying their boat, refitting it, the cost of provisioning in the Bahamas for a family of six, and their monthly expenses.

Matt and Jessica (MJ Sailing) cruised for three years on a tight budget, taking their boat from Michigan, down to the Caribbean, and across the Atlantic twice. They detail every penny they spent, including the cost of getting their old boat, a Sabre 34, ready for cruising on this page, as well as their monthly cost of cruising on this page. They’re currently refitting an aluminum boat and will post those costs once the refit is complete.

Younger cruisers often get asked the question, “How can you afford this lifestyle?” Kate and Chris (Calm Seas, Gentle Breeze) share their thoughts on How They Afford to Cruise and Travel So Much.

Ruth and Duncan (Impetuous Too) share their expenses on their 10,000 mile journey from Guatemala to New Zealand. They're frugal sailors and in their post, Budget Bonanza, they share their expenses and how they saved money transiting the Panama Canal without an agent.

Deb and TJ (The Retirement Project) have been detailing their Monthly Cruising Costs since they cut the dock lines in 2013, including details of unexpected costs due to helping out family members with a boat purchase.

Michael (Log of s/v Del Viento and co-author of Voyaging with Kids) has been detailing How Much It Costs to Go Cruising with his wife, Windy, and their two children since 2010, when they purchased their 1978 Fuji 40.

Mick (Attainable Adventure Cruising) describes what it takes to Cruise on Less than $15,000 a Year, sharing his views on the “consumer cruiser” approach he sees some people taking when it comes to all things marine.

Steve and Tracy (Sailing Saga Sea) left Houston in 2014 and have since cruised to Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia. They detail their cost of cruising in their 2015 Spending Report and 2016 Spending Report.

Brian and Lauren (Sea Biscuit) have been sharing their Monthly Cruising Costs and their thoughts on the “financial burn” since they headed to the Bahamas and beyond in January 2016.

Liesbet (Roaming About) draws on her experiences leading a nomadic lifestyle (including eight years cruising in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands with her husband Mark) and shares her thoughts on whether Money Buys Freedom.

No matter how big or small your cruising budget is, finding ways to save money is important for all boat owners. Stephanie (SV Cambria) shares the Money Saving Tips she and her husband, David, have employed during their fifteen years cruising and living aboard their boat.

Insurance can be a major expense for cruisers. Keith and Nikki (‘Til the Butter Melts) discuss the risk assessment one needs to take when deciding whether to get full hull coverage insurance versus catastrophic loss for one’s boat.

Mike (This Rat Sailed)  shares his thoughts on Freedom Chips, which is how he refers to money, and the choices he and his wife have made to trade in their old lifestyle for life on a boat, and, in the process "buy" more freedom.

Stacey and Jesse (SV Smitty) share their Cost to Cruise the Bahamas, including some extraordinary costs, which caused them to say, "Holy Crap!"

Quinn and Ben (SV Wanderlust) share their costs for four months of "actual cruising" (meaning they weren't hauled out, docked or undergoing major repairs) in The Cost of Cruising: How Much Do We Really Spend?

Dave and Lisa (Journey with SV Unwritten Timeline) share their costs for 2016 and 2015  

Al and Michele (M/V Kindred Spirit) share their costs of cruising for eight months in the Bahamas.

Trio Travels answers that question that every wannabe cruiser wants to know - How Much Does It Cost to Go Cruising? Unsurprisingly the answer is, "money, money, money."

Behan shares how she and her family have funded their eight year cruising adventure from Seattle to New England via the Pacific Islands, Australia (to top of the cruising kitty), SE Asia, East Africa and South Africa. And they're not done yet, with plans to head down to Cuba and see what happens after that.

Do you have a blog post about the cost of cruising that you want to share? Please post your link with a brief description in the comments section below and we'll add it to this list.

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  1. Thanks for the shout out guys. I thought the post was a bit blunt (could you tell we were over a few questions), but we felt it needed to be said. We are all so different. I will update the post and add this as a link to it too.
    Hope you're having a great day! Kate & Chris SV Aeolus

    1. I think it's a great perspective! A lot of cruisers get questions just like the ones you get and I like how you tell it how it is. Cheers - Ellen

  2. One of the most detailed budgets available on-line is from Bill and Judy Rouse. They sailed BeBe on an 11 year circumnavigation and detailed every penny spent: http://svbebe.blogspot.com/p/costs.html

    They averaged about $54,000 per year and lived well.

    Hope this helps someone.

    Mark and Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff