Figuring Out Your Budget

Every long-distance and long-term sailor has a budget—big or small. We all travel the world, witness beautiful sunsets, and spend time hanging out in stunning bays. The difference between budgets is chalked up, mostly, to lifestyle. Therefore, sailor budgets vary widely from person to person, allowing us to tailor finances to meet our specific needs. Before you set sail, however, you should have a rough idea of how much money you’ll spend each month. Here’s what you need to consider before casting off.


Mooring and Marina Fees—Staying in marinas affords a lot of convenience. You’ll have easy access to showers, laundry services, and restaurants. However, the most time you spend in marinas, the higher your bottom line will have to be. Marina fees vary widely based on the location and the size of your boat. You should anticipate spending anywhere from $20 to $350 each night. Look for prices in the areas you’re visiting before setting off.


Food—If you don’t spend a lot of time in marinas, food will be your biggest expense. The easiest way to cut down is to eat on board as much as possible. This will also help you budget—estimating grocery expenses is a lot easier than trying to predict restaurant bills.


Water—If you have a watermaker, this won’t apply to you. Water is generally available free of charge, but some marinas will charge you by the liter. The typical price will be around $0.30/liter, but be smart about it. Look for campsites and quays as much as possible.


Fuel—You’ll need to fuel your boat engine and outboard (if you have one), and how much you spend on these is ultimately up to you and personal preference. How quickly do you want to travel? Are you comfortable sailing for the majority of your adventure? Do you row or use the outboard when riding your dinghy? These factors will determine how much fuel you’ll need.


Phone Bills—Long-distance trips necessitate connection to the outside world. Often, the best and most affordable option will be a phone plan. Phone usage will vary by carrier and location, but aim for around $30-$45 per month.