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Old 11-04-2015, 10:34 AM   #1
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Trawlering vs Camping costs

I'm a sailor. My wife is not. In another thread I went over this issue.

We went to an RV show this weekend. She likes the trailer idea, if I promise to not be constantly camping, but to come back to the house from time to time.

So I was wondering if anyone out there has both a trawler and camper and can speak to the costs of extended trips in each.

As for my self, I have sailed across the Carribean on an Ericson 32. 1200 miles and the whole trip cost me about $500 maybe. Most of that was port fees.

I have driven across the US and through Europe, the US trips cost around $1000 round trip. I think Europe cost around $800, since I was traveling alone. Most of that was hotels which are expensive in Amsterdam particularly.

Thanks in advance

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Old 11-04-2015, 10:40 AM   #2
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Looks like you already did your cost analysis, the bigger question is, would you rather be out on the water or in a camp ground.

Grew up camping/traveling with my family, when married had a 19' boat and a slide on pickup camper, found we went to most locations on the water, sold all three (boat, truck and camper) and bought a bigger boat to go cruising. Soooo much happier, for you its about what works.

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Old 11-04-2015, 10:55 AM   #3
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We live on the boat 5 months and the motor home 7 months. We find it costs about the same. The big advantage is with the motor home you can covet a wider range. My advise is to keep the wife happy. My wife likes the motor home better as we see more areas. It was my wife that wants to be a live a board which is better than the dirt as we can move around.

We tend stay at parks close to the water. We are pulling a Suv, but we miss having a boat. We have a 19 ft run about that we can pull, but for our present traveling the US the Suv is better.
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Old 11-04-2015, 12:41 PM   #4
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We have both a boat and a camping trailer. Cost comparison? Well, there really is no way. The boat is so much more expensive than camping it is not even close.

We got the camper to get to places not on the water such as out west. Also, it is for going to my grandson's football games. He plays in the SEC. You can cover a lot of ground towing a camper at 12 to 14 mpg, or you can set up for a few days. Out west there is a lot of BLM land free to camp with just an annual permit. That is similar to anchoring without marinas. I like to do both.

I have as much in my dinghy, davits, and hoist as I do in my trailer. No way around it boats are expensive.
Don on Moonstruck
Sabre 42 Hardtop Express & Blackfin 25 CC
When cruising life is simpler, but on a grander scale (author unknown)
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Old 11-04-2015, 01:07 PM   #5
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We are returning to camping for our recreation and it is definitely cheaper than boating. Having said that Phil Fill is close when it comes to full time living as far as typical expenses, where I think he's off is boating specific costs. Marina fees, bottom maintenance etc. I can store an rv for less than 10% of berth fees.

We've had great fun with both but only have time for one activity. Happy wife, happy life.

It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they've been fooled - Mark Twain
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Old 11-04-2015, 01:26 PM   #6
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You need to give more info as to what you mean by camping and cruising. I have boated in a Catalina 22 staying on the hook every night in Florida. Pretty cheap, VERY primitive! But I was young, didn't have much money and I had a ball and learned a lot. I have also "cruised" the N.E. USA as paid captain of a 57 ft. sailboat. Stayed dockside a lot, moorings a lot and on the hook very seldom. The cost of that summer aboard plus the annual haul out would have paid for about 2 years of luxury RV living plus fuel to circumnavigate the USA! IMHO at a level of comfort that the wife would enjoy on the water VS on land figure about a 4-1 ratio of expense.
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Old 11-04-2015, 01:33 PM   #7
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My moorage is $300 mo and that only buys me three nights in a motel. And 300miles at 12mpg isn't cheap either. The only thing that is actually cheap is a very small car and a tent. I don't mind .. even like .. tents .. but finding a place to pitch it can be difficult a lot of the time.

It depends hugely on who you ask and what kind of cruising and/or camping you intend. My boat burns a gallon an hour so jumping into a 12mpg Suburban pulling a 24' trailer is apples and trophy pumpkins. But a trailer wouldn't cost $300 mo moorage either.

We're having thoughts about trailer life. One nice thing about the trailer is if you equate road fuel for moorage is that road fuel stops whenever the tow vehicle does. Fuel is about $100 a day so if you were on the road for a month you'd burn about $3000.00. Not cheap. My boat would burn about $250.00. But most boats here would burn two or three times as much. But those skippers would have a $200,000.00 motor home that would burn $3000 fuel a month.

Too many variables. Staying home and eating cereal is also an option.
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Old 11-04-2015, 01:35 PM   #8
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Well...there is camping, then there is CAMPING. There is cruising in a boat then there is get my drift. My experience with land yachting covers about 13 years in buses from 40ft to 45ft (all diesel pushers...5 different ones). My boating experience covers many more years and boats up to 53ft. I agree with Don if comparing apples to apples. If my boat was a 26ft cabin cruiser and I could store it on a trailer on my property I would say that would be cheaper than acquiring and running my 45ft 525HP bus that gets 6mpg with a good tailwind and costs me $140 to store in a covered shed including 30amp service. But, the last large boat we owned was a 37ft Bertram sportfisher that burned about 10gph at 10 knots, had a 8kw onan genset that required more maintenance than the 12kw genset in my current bus. Fuel for the boat was more costly, at the time, than truck stop fuel. When items break on the bus I can find replacement parts relatively cheap compared to marine grade items and corrosion is not a constant chase on the bus. I am selling the bus and getting back into large boating soon and I expect to spend about $5K per month on amortized care/feeding/maintenance on a boat in the 50ft range. My current bus costs are much less than that amortizing out the costs over a year. I don't mean to sound discouraging...just make sure you understand all the costs (not just purchase price) prior to diving in.
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Old 11-04-2015, 02:51 PM   #9
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We do both and have a Mainship Pilot 34 and a lightweight 19' travel trailer with about the same interior room as the boat. Here is a comparison of costs:

Initial purchase price:

Boat 2003 bought in 2012 for $130,000
Trailer bought new in 2014 for $27,000

Fixed Costs:

Boat- moorage, winter storage, insurance- $3,500 per year in Connecticut
Trailer- Year round storage, insurance- $1,000 per year

Annual maintenance costs:

Boat- I do 100% myself so it is just parts, oil, antifreeze in the winter- about $200.
Trailer- I also do 100% myself- about $50

Variable Fuel Costs:

Boat- 2 1/2 gph diesel at 8 mph for a total of 90 cents per mile
Trailer- 13 mpg gasoline while towing for a total of 18 cents per mile

Variable marina/camping fees:

Boat- Marinas about $75 per day, but 80% of our time it is free anchoring
Trailer- State, NFS or USPS campgrounds are about $30 per day, no power or sewer

So even with a couple of thousand miles a year towing the trailer vs maybe 300 miles a year on the boat our annual costs are roughly $4,000 for the boat and less than $2,000 for the trailer.

Which do we like the best? Well my wife says trailer and I say boat. Everyone is happy.

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Old 11-04-2015, 05:27 PM   #10
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We did the camping route to see the interior of the country plus visit a lot of national parks. It was great BUT we missed the friendliness of boaters, impromto dock parties and boater get togethers. RV'ers tend to keep to themselves, we found the closest thing to a get together for RV'ers was the waiting line at the dump stations.
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Old 11-04-2015, 05:30 PM   #11
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Who cares? Do what you enjoy more! I have never been camping in my life, and probably won't. I have been" camp cruising" plenty of times on small boats and always enjoyed it. Of course I was younger, slimmer and didn't know any better.....
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Old 11-04-2015, 05:41 PM   #12
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We are in the process of going full time boat and RV. A direct comparison of the two are not possible because the nature of use is not the same. A boat is more about the trip than the destination and most RV'ing is more about the destination.
The main difference will be with regard to fuel costs.
Another big variable will be "parking" / "docking" fees. When getting too a destination in the RV we usually do not pay for camping. We WalMart or some other no cost place that is free and there are many to choose from if you look.
Consider this:

I get about 8MPG on a 40ft diesel pusher. A 1000 mile trip would cost about $320.00 for fuel. 21 days @ 35 per day camping $735. Boondocking 7 days.
( If you are over 62 you can get a USPS Senior Pass and your camping will not be more than 12/15 dollars per night for a full hookup). Check the link

America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass

I use about 3GPH at 8 knots. A 1000mile trip would cost $833 for fuel. Anchoring out 21 days and Marina fees $40 x 7 days. $280.

I suggest you set up a hypothetical and apply the costs based on fuel and " lodging " fees; marina or campground.

Most if not all other expenses will be pretty much the same.

If both trips take 30 days then the cost per day for boat vs RV would look like this:

30 day boat trip : 30days/$1113 = 37.10 per day
30 RV trip : 30days/$1055 = 35.16 per day

Here is the difference, to me.
Boating - everyday is a vacation day, enjoying the water and living the life. I can " park " and relax pretty much wherever I wish and enjoy all that that location affords me, islands, beaches, and so much more....
Not to mention, anchoring out is vastly different than being parked in a very busy campground with a gaggle of kids running thru your campsite.

And then, If I want to see mountains.....

Think I am biased?
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Old 11-04-2015, 06:13 PM   #13
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I look at the cost of time and sanity, as well. Where can I get in 6 hours on a boat vs. Where can I get in 6 hours in an RV... and how much will I enjoy either journey. The answer should be self-evident.

We kicked around an RV, but always come back to the boat, though we know it'll cost more in $$.

After 6 hours on the road, I'll be ready to kill somebody, and will maybe have gotten as far as Savannah/Hilton Head (north) or Marathon (south). In a boat, maybe I'll only get to Edgewater (north) or Vero Beach (south)... but how will I feel when I get there?

Assuming no breakdowns, you already know the answer
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Old 11-04-2015, 06:35 PM   #14
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Rented a 27' motorhome for a week-end and did not like it. Drivin' the thing was a chore, and when we got to the campground, we had the "great unwashed" on both sides. No thanks, I'll stick to trawlerin'.
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Old 11-04-2015, 07:01 PM   #15
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Just like cruising, camping can be all over the map for costs and comparisons.

If you wanted to cover the same grounds in about the same comfort and stay in similar places luxury resorts (boat or rv) or anchor out and stay in low cost no frills parks....

I would say caming is way cheaper based on my experience with my 29 foot fifth wheeL and rv rental.
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Old 11-04-2015, 07:03 PM   #16
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Rent an RV and see how it goes for one summer's road trip. If you can manage/afford to do both, that would be the perfect scenario.
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Old 11-04-2015, 07:32 PM   #17
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I suspect I could buy a brand new,"Cadillac" of an RV for the price of my 30 year old KK42. I spent about $19,000 on it this year, all expenses and maintenance, with me doing all the work except the electronics, Webasto and the dingy engine service. I budget for about $19,000. I suspect that would get me a lot of RVing.

We enjoyed renting an RV to travel from Whitehorse to Inuvik along the Dempster. It was a trip of a lifetime. We spent $2500 in fuel (2008) including fuel in our TDI wagon to Whitehorse. It was a 3 week trip with 9 days in the motor home. By comparison, we traveled 2 trips last fall and for 10 weeks this summer to Prince Rupert and back and fueled once: $1,800.

I suspect you could do a lot more RVing than cruising for the same $ spent. But then there is this...
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I'd RV again but I wouldn't trade it straight across.

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Old 11-04-2015, 08:35 PM   #18
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Bought the trawler 21 yrs ago for $150k. Joined a good Yacht club a few years earlier. The kids had a blast till they were too old to get away for the summer vacations. Stuff you could never do in an RV. Now that we are greying, still have the boat, still enjoy the summer cruising a lot. Still paying for annual moorage, club fees, etc, but still consider it to be worth every cent.

Bought the RV 5 yrs ago for $58k. Went to a variety of different "campgrounds". Learned what kinds we liked and what to avoid. (some I am sure I heard the banjos playing). Learned that we didn't want to RV in the summer, as that is when boating claims our time, so found a place we like and we keep going back for the winters. Bought a bigger RV, and a lot in a high end RV Park. Most of the people there own the lots at $150k average and a relatively new, high end Diesel Pusher $250k avg. We enjoy the regular people, similar to the Yacht club crowd. We will do this till it no longer feels right.

Both are costly to do it right, but both are worth it.
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Old 11-04-2015, 09:22 PM   #19
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I don't RV but my parents were full time RVers for a bit over 20 years (until my step-dad was about 83-84). Their costs were pretty small if you exclude the purchase price of the RVs (more on that below). After the first couple of years they mostly made two trips a year. They summered just outside Port Townsend, WA and spent winters in Arizona. So they drove perhaps 2,500 miles per year. They had a 45' fifth wheel that they towed with a 1 ton diesel pickup. Typically mileage was around 5 mpg, so 500 gallons of gas per year. Except when they were on the road they stayed in membership parks that cost them about $10K each to join (in Port Townsend and in Yuma, AZ) plus small annual membership fees ($1200 or o then). They were in the Escapees RV club, which gave them discounted stays in RV parks when they were on the road. They found that full time RVing was quite a bit cheaper than maintaining a house. Back in the late 90s my step-dad said they spent less than $3K per year for everything except food, clothing etc. They found that joining a coop and the RV club gave them an instant community. They had lots of friends in the two coops. When they quit RVing they sold the two coop spaces back to the coop for a bit more than they paid for them. So the cost of the coop membership was a wash.

Now, as far as equipment goes, their fifth wheel trailer cost about $80K back in 1985. The truck was newer and cost about $35K. So they had about $115K in their rig as of about 1990. When they quit in about 2003, the RV was sold after a year on the market for about $15K. I think they got about $5K for the truck. So their major cost of RVing was depreciation of their rig (about 95K) of about $5K per year.

For comparison, I spend about $10K per year to maintain my boat (marina, winter storage, insurance, maintenance and upgrades, fuel, etc.). My boat is very fuel efficient, so fuel is less than $300 a year. When I sell the boat I expect to recover most of what I paid for it. So basically, my costs are comparable to what my parents spent as full time RVers.

If you like the people you meet and don't mind driving, the RV lifestyle can be quite pleasant. I think full time RVing is similar to being a live aboard.

Incidentally, my parents had a Blackfin 25 they kept in Port Townsend that they used for fishing in the summer. They stored it at the RV park when they went south.
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Old 11-04-2015, 10:19 PM   #20
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All I got to say is it is awfully hard to catch rockfish, halibut, crab, shrimp, grouper, snapper, and salmon from a camper. Own one but it receives very little use. Well worth the additional cost.

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