Friday, September 26, 2014

How Much Does It Cost To Go Cruising?

back in the water after routine maintenance & bottom paint
Now there's a question!
And here's the answer: As much as you've got.
Ask any cruiser and he (or she) will probably give you that same answer.
It's actually a good one. You can spend as much money as you are willing to spend. It all depends on your comfort level and lifestyle.
Make no mistake, cruising can be, and frequently is, an expensive way to live. On the other hand, it doesn't have to be. There are a lot of ways to economize in order to live your dream.
I'll start with a few of the bigger expenses. Number one is marina fees. I can't speak for other parts of the world, but marina fees in Mexico are often just as expensive as in the United States.

anchorage in San Carlos Bay
If you are willing to spend much of your time on anchor and avoid tying up to a dock you will save many hundreds of dollars a month. Diesel fuel to run your engine is another major expense that can be avoided if you are a sailboat willing to move only when and where the wind blows. But, without electricity from a marina dock you will have a hard time maintaining air conditioning or refrigeration. And, without motoring you won't be going very far very fast or, in the Sea of Cortez summer, maybe not going anywhere at all.

Like I said, it all depends on your comfort level and lifestyle. You can spend as much, or as little, as you've got.
Another sizable expense is boat insurance. You are required to have proof of liability insurance if you ever want to go into any marina. So that is really a must-have. Insurance to cover your own boat is not required and many cruisers are sailing around out there without it. I certainly don't advise it, though. Bad things happen to good boats in spite of the skippers skills, experience and expertise. Hurricanes happen, derelict boats break loose from their moorings and crash through your anchorage in the middle of the night, other skippers may not always be so skilled and many a boat has suffered unexplained damage while the owners were ashore. Sailing without insurance seems like a false and scary economy to me.

shop where the locals shop
or dine with the gringos

Just like at home, food can be as cheap or as expensive as you want. Beans, rice and tortillas cost very little in Mexico but restaurant meals near the marinas cost not much less than they do back home. Street food is good and inexpensive; beer is cheap and margaritas are often 2 for $5. It's not hard to catch fish but be sure you have a license and know the rules.

It's a well-known fact that things on a boat break, inconveniently and often.
And, what does BOAT stand for? Break Out Another Thousand
Repairs are unavoidable and parts will almost always cost more than in the States. Maintain your boat well, understand your systems, carry spare parts and keep your fingers crossed. Know that if it can break, eventually it will and a repair fund is not a bad idea.

So, to summarize, cruising will cost as much as you are willing to spend. Economies can be made but nothing in life is free. Make an honest assessment of what you expect out of cruising, budget for that, add a little more for the things that will go wrong and then get out there and enjoy the water.

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