At the marina picnic last week, a bit of the discussion was about money (which pairs with boats like lemon juice with a paper cut). Most of it was about new stuff, broken stuff, too much stuff and other stuff. But there were a few newbies, and their questions and comments were mostly about cruising was more expensive than they expected. Whatever they expected.
Cruising costs what one lets it cost. Some keep costs down by good decision making and good discipline. Others keep costs down by sneaking into marinas/mooring fields and tying up for the night and leaving before the staff arrives in the morning. Fortunately, there are very few of these folks, but not few enough. Zero would be good.
But having listened to the discussion, I wondered what is it costing us? Not in dollars and cents – our Quicken has 29 sub accounts; we know where the money is going. But in terms of trade-offs, we hadn’t given that much thought.
After deductions for taxes and short-term savings, this is the picture:
Putting the house in rental and making it completely self supporting allowed us to reduce our budget by 15+ percent. So far renting has been a little better than break-even. If we had been able to sell it, it would have been net zero to budget since we have to buy another house eventually.
We were able to reduce our expenses when it came to driving a car (ours or rented), and free WiFi and a masthead antenna saves us a bundle on bundled digital services. Special insurance is an artifact storing the car reducing the premiums.
But medical and insurance costs accounting for almost a fifth of our budget remained unchanged.
Our fuel use (diesel, gas and propane) went way up, as did the unit prices for those things. Slip fees were a different matter. Our cost for an annual slip on the Chesapeake was high enough to reduce the budget impact of transient slip fees. But slip fee is not slip fee is not slip fee — it can be better to buy a month and leave early than go day-to-day or week-to-week — more in a coming post. [BoatUS membership helps significantly on marina fees.] Government fees, US and Bahamian, were in the round off. Cost of ownership went up because of our internal budget for wear and tear and because we found things that needed to be changed (the anchor for instance). Groceries went up because we bought pre-prepared items we wouldn’t have on land, and because we couldn’t shop sales and coupons like we used to. Dining out (of which we do less) went up because it’s more expensive the closer to water one gets whether the food is better or not.
If we had forgone storing household items, excess boat items such as the cushions for the aft cabin “garage,” a travel/emergency wardrobe and keeping a (paid for) car, we could have saved about 15+%. The trade on storage was what would it cost to replace particular items. In many cases the new cost less old salvage value made storage of quality items preferable since we knew from the outset this was a 3-4 year cruise. The trade between auto rentals and keeping the car was a wash. The other stuff was going to have to be stored in any case.
So after paying our taxes and increasing our short term savings, we allocated 12% less to cruising than we had to living ashore and owning a boat. So far we are ahead of budget. We spent less in the Bahamas. Because we won’t be going up to the Bay and back, we will save there as well.
But in the end, cruising costs what we let it cost.