Mike on his SUP in the San Juan Islands, WA
Limerick at anchor in the San Juan Islands. Mt Baker in the distance.
Minivan Camping near the Seven Mile Bridge, Florida Keys
Cenote Ik Kil, Yucatán, Mexico.
Camille at anchor in Mexico
Snorkeling in Cozumel, Mexico
Camille from above
Mike and Limerick in the San Juan Islands
Mike in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (Camille in the distance)
Verena and Camille in Ensenada Grande, Baja, Mexico
Fireweed in Alaska
Butterfly Fish, Big Island, Hawai'i
Limerick underway in British Columbia
Mike and Dorado, Sea of Cortez, Mexico
Dolphins on the bow of Camille
Ice floes in Cook Inlet, Alaska
Limerick and Chatterbox Falls in Princess Louisa Inlet, BC
Surfboards, Sayulita, Mexico
Minivan Camper near Death Valley
Camille anchored off Isla San Francisco, Mexico
Fire Dancer, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Mike fishing for salmon in Alaska
Cruising down the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend
Limerick and moon in BC
Limerick and SUPs on Pelican Beach, Cypress Island, WA
Limerick and Mike on his SUP in Reid Harbor, Stuart Island, WA
Bonfire on the beach in Shallow Bay, Sucia Island, WA

Cruising Expenses

Everyone spends money differently, so I don’t think our cruising expenses are a good indicator of the cost of cruising, but since so many people seem to be interested, here are our numbers. I think more important is how we got to a point of where we can afford this. If you haven’t yet, find out how we can afford this lifestyle on our Finances page. We are once again actively cruising and posting our expenses. Scroll down to also see our cruising expenses while cruising Mexico.

Expenses Aboard Limerick, Pacific Northwest

EXPENSES 2017  $22,075 for 5 months of cruising and working on the boat = $4,415 per month 

EXPENSES 2016 We bought Limerick Christmas 2015. In 2016 we spent over $15,000 on the boat in repairs and new gear including new bottom paint, new propshaft and propeller (over $7,000 incl haul-out fees and lay-days), Honda generator, SUP, and all the bits and pieces to go with these jobs and a new to us boat. January was spent cruising and figuring out what we wanted and needed. February we spent in the boatyard doing the above mentioned projects. In March we drove to San Diego to pick up our storage trailer. April was spent doing another shakedown cruise locally. May, June and July we cruised British Columbia until work called and we hauled out and had Limerick shrink-wrapped for the 2016-1017 winter. As of March 2017 we are back on the boat and sharing expenses.

BUDGETS Pay attention when looking at other cruising budgets. They often don’t include things like annual haul-outs, insurance, DMV fees, and things out of the ordinary. They often also don’t include the cost of getting ready to cruise. It’s fairly easy to spend only $1,000 a month once everything has been repaired and the boat is full of food, fuel, and spare parts.

ANNUAL EXPENSES Our annual expenses are listed the month they are paid and are included in our total. Boat insurance: $1,100. Car insurance: $400. Boat and car registration varies but about $500 total. Mail service Dockside Solutions $140. And then there are expenses that only come up every five years for the renewal of our captain’s licenses, which we are doing in 2017.

SUBSCRIPTIONS We have no subscriptions to anything! Netflix, Hulu, Kindle Unlimited, etc are easily replaceable with an account to your local library. Let me show you how to use your local library to get free books and movies! Our cell phones/internet are  virtually free as we are on my parent’s plan – we do a few chores for them every year to cover the $20 per month for our two lines.

 


August 2017 – Cruising Canada – Total $1,526 (out of a planned budget of $3,000)



NOTE We spent this entire month cruising Desolation Sound! Early September we put Limerick back on the hard to go work.

  • Fuel – Boat The big tank was already full so we just had to top up propane and buy gas for the dinghy.
  • Fuel – Car Rental car to drive to the ocean side of Vancouver Island.
  • Bills & Utilities Last month’s boat storage electric bill.
  • Coffee Shops  No coffee shops at anchor!
  • Groceries The boat was already stocked with non-perishables but fresh food can get expensive in the tiny towns of Desolation Sound.
  • Showers Only took showers in the ocean and on board this month.
  • Boat Moorage Spent a couple of days in a marina to stock up fresh food and hide from strong winds.
  • Mortgage & Rent This is our trailer storage fee. We have 30 foot RV space where we keep our storage trailer and when we are cruising the minivan fits in front of the trailer.
  • Boat Repairs/Maint Racor filters.
  • Sporting Goods An air mattress for our trip to the Pacific Coast. We have gotten pretty good at converting a minivan into a camper.
  • Everything Else We rented a car to drive to the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island and camped in the rental car.

 

Skipping July since we spent most of the month of July working and the boat was in storage.

 


June 2017, Washington – Boatyard, cruising, and working – Total $4,374 (out of a planned budget of $3,000)


NOTE We spent one week on a shakedown cruise this month. When we were finally ready to head out and go cruising, we received a call asking if we wanted to work. We rarely turn down work, so the last 10 days of the month were spent away from the boat (we are still working now, in July).

  • Fuel – Boat In anticipation of going cruising we filled up the boat with diesel.
  • Fuel – Car Where we are located is kind of out of the way and we have been making regular trips into the nearest bigger town (20 miles) to go grocery shopping, and into Seattle (50 miles) to shop for the boat.
  • Bills & Utilities Since most everything is 12 volt this would be for one (now rarely used) space heater, charging the laptops, water heater, fridge and running the battery charger.
  • Coffee Shops  We hardly ever go to coffee shops anymore but sometimes it’s nice to treat ourselves.
  • Groceries We like to buy all the bulky heavy stuff when we still have a car. We are very picky about what we eat so most of our food is organic, grass-fed, etc and our food expenses tend to be fairly high. Since this category includes Costco trips there are some non-food items but I try to separate it out. 
  • Restaurants Lots of eating our because we are working.
  • Showers Marina showers cost $1.25 per 5 minutes.
  • Boat Moorage This is our monthly rent at North Harbor Diesel Boat Yard in Anacortes, WA. More info on how we store our boat in this post. It is much higher than usual because we paid for getting the boat in and out of the water several times.
  • Mortgage & Rent This is our trailer storage fee. We have 30 foot RV space where we keep our storage trailer and when we are cruising the minivan fits in front of the trailer.
  • Personal Care A haircut for Mike and laundry.
  • Boat Gear/Outfitting New things we add to the boat. Decorative items are included. This month’s big purchase was a 12 volt travel fridge. Also paid for a lifetime membership to the Monk Owners Association (MOA).
  • Boat Repairs/Maint Tons of small projects and finishing up the big projects noted in the previous months. Also parts to repair the outboard carburetor (it became fouled up with old gas despite taking all precautions).
  • Clothing No new clothes this month.
  • Sporting Goods This is pretty much what we spend on toys and fancy clothes, usually at REI. Nothing this month. 
  • Everything Else This month we paid to get the boat and the dinghy registered, parking in Seattle, internet fees, and issuance fees for our captain’s licenses.

 


May 2017, Washington, boatyard, making repairs – Total $5,265 (out of a planned budget of $3,000)


  • Fuel – Boat This is for topping up propane for cooking and kerosene for heating.
  • Fuel – Car Where we are located is kind of out of the way and we have been making regular trips into the nearest bigger town (20 miles) to go grocery shopping, and into Seattle (50 miles) to shop for the boat.
  • Bills & Utilities Since most everything is 12 volt this would be for one space heater, charging the laptops, water heater, fridge and running the battery charger.
  • Coffee Shops  We hardly ever go to coffee shops anymore but sometimes it’s nice to treat ourselves.
  • Groceries We’ve been stocking up and filling the boat with non-perishables. We like to buy all the bulky heavy stuff when we still have a car. We are very picky about what we eat so most of our food is organic, grass-fed, etc and our food expenses tend to be fairly high. Since this category includes Costco trips there are some non-food items but I try to separate it out. I only spent about $100 of this total on non-food items.
  • Restaurants Only one restaurant outing this month when Mike’s grandpa was in town. And one lunch at the Co-op salad bar.
  • Showers Marina showers cost $1.25 per 5 minutes.
  • Boat Moorage This is our monthly rent at North Harbor Diesel Boat Yard in Anacortes, WA. More info on how we store our boat in this post.
  • Mortgage & Rent This is our trailer storage fee. We have 30 foot RV space where we keep our storage trailer and when we are cruising the minivan fits in front of the trailer.
  • Personal Care This month it consists entirely of laundry. Usually includes things like shampoo, soap, haircuts, mani/pedi, Target runs, etc.
  • Boat Gear/Outfitting New things we add to the boat. Decorative items are included. This month a new sewing machine and a fancy crab pot.
  • Boat Repairs/Maint Tons of small projects and finishing up the big projects noted in the two previous months.
  • Clothing Just a couple new tops.
  • Sporting Goods This is pretty much what we spend on toys and fancy clothes, usually at REI. Actually only made a return this month. 
  • Everything Else This month we paid for our bi-annual auto insurance, internet fees, and the big chunk is for our physicals for the renewal of our captain’s licenses.

 


April 2017, Washington, boatyard, making repairs – Total $3,870 (out of a planned budget of $3,000)


  • Fuel – Boat This is for one propane refill and kerosene for our diesel heater which we are using less and less every day.
  • Fuel – Car Where we are located is kind of out of the way and we have been making regular trips into the nearest bigger town (20 miles) to go grocery shopping, and into Seattle (50 miles) to shop for the boat.
  • Bills & Utilities Since most everything is 12 volt this would be for one space heater, charging the laptops, water heater, fridge and running the battery charger.
  • Coffee Shops We hardly ever go to coffee shops anymore but sometimes it’s nice to treat ourselves.
  • Groceries We are very picky about what we eat so most of our food is organic, grass-fed, etc and our food expenses tend to be fairly high. Since this category includes Costco trips there are some non-food items but I try to separate it out.
  • Restaurants This month was my birthday so there is a big chunk that went to that. The rest was eating out when we had the boat so torn apart that we could not cook.
  • Showers This month we bought a 10-pass to a yoga studio ($120) and a 10-pass to the community center ($50). The rest was spent on showers that cost $1.25 per 5 minutes.
  • Boat Moorage This is our monthly rent at North Harbor Diesel Boat Yard in Anacortes, WA. More info on how we store our boat in this post.
  • Mortgage & Rent This is our trailer storage fee. We have 30 foot RV space where we keep our storage trailer and when we are cruising the minivan fits in front of the trailer.
  • Personal Care Shampoo, soap, haircuts, mani/pedi, laundry, etc. I made a few trips to Target this month to stock up on things.
  • Boat Gear/Outfitting New things we add to the boat. Decorative items are included. A new mattress topper this month.
  • Boat Repairs/Maint Things we fix and maintain on the boat. We are still in the boatyard and working on various projects. All new thru-hulls and seacocks, replacing and rerouting head hoses, adding vented loops, new fwd bilge pump and alarm, an additional water-tank, refurbishing the anchor windlass, and lots of other smaller projects. And we stocked up on oil ($200).
  • Clothing Just some new tops and T-shirts this month.
  • Sporting Goods This is pretty much what we spend on toys and fancy clothes, usually at REI. We had a nice dividend and picked up some new rain boots
  • Everything Else Parking in Seattle. Domain fees. Mike’s iPhone screen repair (pricey!).

 


March 2017, Washington, boatyard, making repairs – Total $7,040 (out of a planned budget of $3,000)


  • Gas & Fuel At the beginning of the month we drove back to the boat in Washington after spending 6 months in San Diego. This explains our huge (car) gas bill!
  • Bills & Utilities No electric bill yet for March — we are running the heaters a lot so this will be interesting!
  • Food & Dining Groceries, Wine, Coffee Shops, and Restaurants. We are very picky about what we eat so most of our food is organic, grass-fed, etc and our food expenses tend to be fairly high. We average $1,500 per month in this category of which about $300 is eating out. This category also includes Costco trips. This month about $400 is non-food items because we purchased a Dyson vacuum at Costco. Best purchase ever!
  • Health & Fitness This is for showering at the marina ($1.25 for 5min) or the Community Center ($3 unlimited). Sometimes it includes a yoga class ($7 including shower) at the community center.
  • Boat Moorage This is our monthly rent at North Harbor Diesel Boat Yard in Anacortes, WA. More info on how we store our boat in this post.
  • Mortgage & Rent This is our trailer storage fee. We have 30 foot RV space where we keep our storage trailer and when we are cruising our car fits in front of the trailer.
  • Personal Care Shampoo, soap, haircuts, mani/pedi, etc
  • Boat Gear/Outfitting New things we add to the boat. Trips to Target for pretty things are included. Also a new (longer) swim ladder and another kayak rack.
  • Boat Repairs/Maint Things we fix and maintain on the boat. This month’s big expense is replacing all of our thru-hulls and seacocks, along with all the head hoses, while still on the hard. Also had our windlass motor repaired and bought some more parts for the new engine raw water pump we picked up last month ($500).
  • Sporting Goods This is pretty much what we spend on toys and clothes, usually at REI. This month I sold my old inflatable kayak via craigslist (+$1,100) and bought a new Hobie inflatable kayak (-$2,149).  We also bought a new waterproof video camera.
  • Everything Else On our drive north, we took the long route first inland and then along the coast and took a bit of a vacation.

 

Expenses Aboard Camille

TOTAL COSTS for 16 months: $35,547 (average of $2,222 per month)

Not included are three months spent in Ensenada, Mexico getting Camille ready to cruise. We spent about $20,000 in upgrades before heading further south (watermaker, solar, dinghy, etc). Plus roughly another $10,000 in non-installed gear that we took off the boat and are now using on the new boat. When we bought Camille we made sure she wasn’t a fixer upper and would have a good resale value (more on those decision here). When we sold Camille, after nearly three years of ownership, we made enough to get our money back including the gear we had put into her. So, basically the boat was free and all we had to pay for were our normal expenses and boat maintenance.

June 2013, Mexico, Cruising – Total $3,144
The big expense this month was the boat haul-out. Ouch! We also had buy a lot of fuel for the Baja Bash. And since we were in Cabo we just had to eat out. There was also a $100 expense (included in the total but not in the graphic) for staying in the marina in Cabo for two nights while hiding from hurricane Cosme. NOTE: In early July 2013 we arrived back in San Diego and stopped sharing our costs as we got Camille ready to sell and headed back to work for a while.

May 2013, Mexico, Cruising – Total $1,497 (includes return of battery)
We actually did some real cruising this month instead of just taking care of stuff. It’s amazing how much there is always to do when we don’t even work. Right now we are on the hard getting the bottom painted  but that expense will show in June. This month we had the added expense of updating our immigration papers for the next three years (after that we can become permanent residents and no longer have to pay). We actually have a positive number in the Boat Gear category this month! Kind of… Mike’s cousin returned our bad battery to West Marine and we got our money back. Of course we bought a new battery in April so it evens out. Also had to buy our annual fishing licenses ($100) and had a diver clean the bottom ($40). If it wasn’t for some thousand dollar expense every month we’d be well within our budget!

April 2013, Mexico, Cruising – Total $4,372
We left Puerto Vallarta at the end of March and headed for Mazatlan for a quick stopover before crossing the Sea of Cortez to La Paz. We ended up staying in Mazatlan three weeks because our 1,000 hour engine service took much longer than anticipated. See our post on what happened. We also had to buy a new house battery (large 4D gel) for the boat as our one year old battery seems have been a bad apple (luckily still under warranty so we should get our money back). Groceries were a bit high because Mike was able to do some shopping in the states on his impromptu trip to LA.

March 2013, Mexico, Cruising – Total $5,470
We had planned on spending hurricane season (August through November) in a slip in Paradise Village Marina but we ended up having to stay until the end of March due to some personal issues. We finally escaped Paradise the end of March and are roaming the seas once again! Before leaving we stocked up on groceries and fuel, got a bit obsessive with the airconditioning at Starbucks, and paid our international health insurance for the next four months. Boat Gear money was spent on our SPOT tracker annual fee, a new WiFi antenna (the bearExtender for our Mac), and some miscellaneous stuff from Home Depot.

February 2013, Mexico, Cruising – Total $1,320
Not shown below (but in the total) is $600 in parts Mike’s parents brought with them from the US.

January 2013, Mexico, Cruising – Total $1,535
We had quite a few things break this month (GPS antenna, frige thermostat, interior light switch, deck plate, door stopper, lost some sunglasses, etc) but luckily Mike’s parents were flying out in early February and were able to bring most of the parts. Also ordered some some more spare parts like a macerator and a carb rebuilt kit for the outboard. And a Kindle! We cruised down Mexico’s Gold Coast and spent most of the month away from the dock. On a side note: Check out my post on how to get free Kindle books from your library!

December 2012, Mexico, Cruising – Total $1,353
This would have been a good month had it not been for the Boat/Gear Outfitting category – we had some canvas work done. We filled up Camille’s tanks in anticipation of getting out of here soon. Oh, and the entertainment category: We went to the movies! We saw The Hobbit in 3D on Christmas day – in english. Drinks, popcorn, stadium seating and digital sound. At 45 pesos each (US$3.50) going to the movies is still affordable in Mexico.

November 2012, Mexico, Cruising – Total $1,857
Back on the boat for all of November after a crazy October. Good to be home and it certainly is a lot cheaper to live in Mexico on our own boat than to tour California in a rented mini-van. We did, however, have to pay for our annual boat insurance this month. We had some boat expenditures like a new galley faucet, bottom cleaning and a new rug. We bought ourselves some new shorts and bathing suits (it’s amazing how fast they get ruined when you go swimming every day). And it looks like we were really good this month and avoided the coffee shops!

October 2012, California, Camping – Total $5,563
Ever wonder what it might cost to spend a month in California to go shopping for the boat, upgrade a couple of captain’s licenses, and do some sight-seeing? During record breaking gas prices!? We spent most nights in our rented “land-yacht” (a mini-van with the seats folded down to make a bed) and cooked a lot of meals on our jet-boil camp stove. We bought a hammock, new flip-flops and some Keens – aka the cruising-boat-shoe EVER – at REI (Sporting Goods category) and Mike rented a SUP surfboard for a week (Entertainment category). Needless to say we are happy to be back in Mexico where groceries are about half of what they cost in the US!

September 2012, Mexico, Cruising – Total $1,057
We flew to California at the end of September to buy things for the boat and to renew our captain’s licenses. We pre-ordered some gear (sunglasses, etc) from REI (Sporting Goods category) and bought our plane tickets with airline miles. (We will be in California for much of October and the budget is already not looking good!)

August 2012, Mexico, Cruising – Total $1199
We took a little road trip this month so we had some hotel and rental car expenses. Also succumbed to the pleasures of coffee shops and restaurants quite a few times. At least some of the cash from this month will over into September. Oh well, at least we had fun! And our total average is going down!

July 2012, Mexico, Cruising – Total $770
The first half of July was spent hightailing it south. We had a few early hurricanes and with that added push we motored a lot on our way from the Loreto area to Puerto Vallarta. We are now safely ensconced in Paradise Village Marina. Of course with being in a big city come the added expenses of restaurants and entertainment (such as a scuba trip for Mike listed under “Everything Else”) but so far we have only succumbed to Starbucks twice!

 

June 2012, Mexico, Cruising – Total $610
June was an amazing month. Both from a financial standpoint and the fun-factor was high. We had one marina stay before we left La Paz to do last minute provisioning. The Cash we took out hasn’t even been spent yet (we wanted to take advantage of a good exchange rate). The PO Box Rental is an annual expense.
But don’t be fooled by the low numbers – if you look back at the previous months you will see the real cost. The only groceries we bought this month were perishables which we supplemented with the non-perishables we had on board. We’re on our way back to Puerto Vallarta for hurricane season so I doubt July will look this good.

 

May 2012, Mexico, Cruising – Total $2,315
May was spent around La Paz since we had to take care of our Mexican immigration status so we don’t have to worry about a tourist visa every six month – this took up most of our cash this month. We also stocked up on non-perishables and hope to have to buy only fresh fruits, vegetables and meat for the next few months. Mike’s parents came to visit, so we rented a car to go to and from the airport in Cabo San Jose.

APRIL 2012, Mexico, Cruising – Total $1,405
April was my birthday so we spent a few nights dining out. We also prepared for Mike’s parents visit by making Amazon and West Marine orders which they could bring in their luggage. We spent most of our time on the hook except for a few days at Marina de La Paz to wash the boat and re-provision.

March 2012, Mexico, Cruising – Total $2,080
March was spent entirely in Mexico – no more trips to West Marine! The van was sold at the end of February which was a nice addition to the cruising kitty. We finally got out of Ensenada and sailed to Turtle Bay and Cabo San Lucas where we anchored. The last two weeks of March were spent in a marina in La Cruz to spend time with my parents. We still had some cash from last month which was spent on eating out and smaller random purchases. We paid for one year of international health insurance this month as well as the annual fee for our Spot locator beacon and a rig inspection, rig tuning and two new rigging wires  (Boat Gear).

 

 

2 Responses

  1. I’m going to envy that dyson vacuum you bought. I’ve wanted one of those for ages! I love the one we have at home. What I’m learning from this’ budget’ page is that budgets get broken all the time! I wonder how long we’ll be able to go without working.

    1. The Dyson is great! But I find I’m just using it as a hand-held, not using it like an upright. The budget is also way under when we are out cruising and can’t spend any money. It all evens out in the end. Kind of…

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