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Old 03-08-2022, 10:49 AM   #1
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Longterm Cruisers: What do you spend???

On the back of several threads asking about impact of rising fuel costs: For longterm cruisers/liveaboards, what are your average monthly costs over a sustained period? A guy on CruisersForum with a 41-foot Hunter HERE has been cruising Florida/Bahamas for almost 5-years and posts his total costs. He is not a beans/rice cruiser - splits time between marinas and anchor-out, goes out to eat, travels inland, etc. For him, fuel/propane is around 3% of his ~$3250/mo average.

Is it fair to generalize that since sailboats operate under power about 50% of the time, that a powerboat at displacement speed would be 2x the fuel expense? Maybe 6%-7% of total costs? With fuel increase, maybe double that to 12%-13% of total costs?

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Old 03-08-2022, 11:02 AM   #2
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Is it fair to generalize that since sailboats operate under power about 50% of the time, that a powerboat at displacement speed would be 2x the fuel expense? Maybe 6%-7% of total costs? With fuel increase, maybe double that to 12%-13% of total costs?

I'd figure triple the fuel use, as even relatively efficient powerboats are typically less efficient than a sailboat motoring around.


I also have a really hard time considering food, etc. as a "boat" cost. You'd be spending money on that without the boat as well, so unless the boat makes that cost higher, I'd exclude it. Basically look just at the costs that are there or increased due to the boat, not total cost of living.
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Old 03-08-2022, 11:43 AM   #3
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I'd figure triple the fuel use, as even relatively efficient powerboats are typically less efficient than a sailboat motoring around.
I actually think sailboat under power is less efficient. They often have folding props that are not optimized for powering. At displacement speeds, likely doesn't make a big difference.

Separately, wondering what many people budget. For us, $3500-$4000 per month over the long haul seems about right. We live a modest but not austere lifestyle - enjoy happy hours, travel to museums and activities, etc. A good friend with a $1.5m glitzy powercat would consider that slumming - his bar tab probably rivals that budget.

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Old 03-08-2022, 11:46 AM   #4
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I actually think sailboat under power is less efficient. They often have folding props that are not optimized for powering. At displacement speeds, likely doesn't make a big difference.

The hull shape is generally more slippery at low speeds unless you're comparing to the most efficient of trawlers (like your Willard). For a 40 foot sailboat, 5 - 6+ mpg while motoring is not uncommon. Many 40 foot trawlers won't achieve better than half that unless going much slower than a knot below hull speed.
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Old 03-08-2022, 12:00 PM   #5
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I also have a really hard time considering food, etc. as a "boat" cost. You'd be spending money on that without the boat as well, so unless the boat makes that cost higher, I'd exclude it. Basically look just at the costs that are there or increased due to the boat, not total cost of living.
Yeah, I second these thoughts. The cost of boating is tangentially related to location, and has nothing to do with the cost of food, for instance. What the cost of boating-related items in the Bahamas and Florida has absolutely nothing to do with what I pay here in the PNW. So the CruiserForum guy's absolute expenses are meaningless.

But in general his percentages are somewhat meaningful. In particular, it indicates the well-known paradigm that the cost of fuel is lost in the noise for the vast majority of us recreational boaters.

To survive multiple decades of operation of powerboats (and sailboats before that), I've done my due diligence in estimating ALL the costs of ownership (including the cost of money, salvage value of my boat, fuel, moorage, etc.). Then, I've examined my disposable income (obviously a personal and highly individualized amount), adjusted my boating choices accordingly, and had at it.

So mvweebles, with all due respect, what is the relevance to your original question? To think there are universal life's lessons and conclusions to be drawn from anecdotal information posted by some guy hanging around the Bahamas (a sample size of one) is fanciful.

Regards,

Pete

ps-met a guy on the fuel dock in San Diego about 30 years ago. His sportfisher had multiple fuel barrels in the cockpit, and was obviously returning from Cabo. I asked him how the fishing was, and he answered "...great. I've gotten the cost of tuna down to $2200 a pound!" And he was loving life. Whatever floats your boat.
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Old 03-08-2022, 12:10 PM   #6
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Thank you for posting the information. I personally feel ( unlike someone else) that it is totally relevant. It is information, albeit one persons carefully plotted out expenses that can serve as an example of what it costs to cruise Florida and the Bahamas for an extended time period. So often this question is asked and this is actual information compiled over a period of time. I do feel the fuel costs will be around 3X for a typical displacement trawler, at a minimum.
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Old 03-08-2022, 12:25 PM   #7
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We just returned from 7 or 8 weeks out in the islands. Yep, sailed about half the possible transits, and that is in the middle of "winter". Which did include 2 gales...
1120 nm trip, 150 gallons diesel total for both motors (180 hrs). Food was high, even fresh veggies ($5 for two tomatoes, beef out of site, chicken/pork not too bad, local bread $5), and that's a local market, not yachtty market. OTOH, two cleaned conch at $3. Made it out as fuel was going up. Port Canaveral was higher $/g than even the high end marinas east. Soon to change tho.
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Old 03-08-2022, 12:26 PM   #8
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Sorry, his fuel number is totally irrelevant without knowing how many miles he cruised in an average month. Fuel is one of my higher costs inspite of averaging over 3.5 MPG. I average over 5,000 miles per year. It will certainly be my highest single expense this year.

Ted
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Old 03-08-2022, 12:29 PM   #9
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Sorry, his fuel number is totally irrelevant without knowing how many miles he cruised in an average month. Fuel is one of my higher costs inspite of averaging over 3.5 MPG. I average over 5,000 miles per year. It will certainly be my highest single expense this year.

Ted

That's exactly it. If you're covering a significant distance relative to your time spent cruising (and not just moving a few miles once a week), fuel is significant. And in that situation, fuel is also the expense you have the least ability to reduce (you can choose cheaper dockage, anchor out more, etc. but you can only slow down and reduce fuel burn so much).
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Old 03-08-2022, 12:48 PM   #10
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Yeah, I second these thoughts. The cost of boating is tangentially related to location, and has nothing to do with the cost of food, for instance. What the cost of boating-related items in the Bahamas and Florida has absolutely nothing to do with what I pay here in the PNW. So the CruiserForum guy's absolute expenses are meaningless.

But in general his percentages are somewhat meaningful. In particular, it indicates the well-known paradigm that the cost of fuel is lost in the noise for the vast majority of us recreational boaters.

To survive multiple decades of operation of powerboats (and sailboats before that), I've done my due diligence in estimating ALL the costs of ownership (including the cost of money, salvage value of my boat, fuel, moorage, etc.). Then, I've examined my disposable income (obviously a personal and highly individualized amount), adjusted my boating choices accordingly, and had at it.

So mvweebles, with all due respect, what is the relevance to your original question? To think there are universal life's lessons and conclusions to be drawn from anecdotal information posted by some guy hanging around the Bahamas (a sample size of one) is fanciful.

Regards,

Pete

ps-met a guy on the fuel dock in San Diego about 30 years ago. His sportfisher had multiple fuel barrels in the cockpit, and was obviously returning from Cabo. I asked him how the fishing was, and he answered "...great. I've gotten the cost of tuna down to $2200 a pound!" And he was loving life. Whatever floats your boat.
Especially amongst the sail-cruiser crowd, estimating cruising costs falls into one of two camps: #1 - "It depends" or some flavor of there are too many variables so any answer would be meaningless. #2 is some flavor of super-cheap if you do it right (the beans/rice crowd). With due respect back to jungpeter, the response falls into bucket #1.

From my perspective, it's much easier to start with some base information such as the spreadsheet from the CruiserForum-wonk I posted, then adjust for your type of cruising, which is fairly easy to estimate. Comparing living aboard a boat between two locations - even disparate ones - has more similarities than, say, comparing living ashore to living on a boat.

Peter
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Old 03-08-2022, 12:52 PM   #11
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We did 4,300 nm this year, averaging 3.8 nmpg. Fuel cost $3,600 - second highest expense after moorage.
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Old 03-08-2022, 12:55 PM   #12
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Sorry, his fuel number is totally irrelevant without knowing how many miles he cruised in an average month. Fuel is one of my higher costs inspite of averaging over 3.5 MPG. I average over 5,000 miles per year. It will certainly be my highest single expense this year.

Ted
Wifey B: And we average over 15000 and don't average 3.5 MPG. You probably cruise more hours than we do, but we do so faster.

While I think the CF dude's numbers are interesting and I do applaud his diligence and that he doesn't cheat or make excuses so his numbers are trustworthy. I think his numbers and methods are useful to some as a starting place but now I'm going to sound like hubby as he's taught me. By having someone else do your budget rather than doing it yourself, you lose one of the greatest values of it. Developing the numbers, knowing how you came up with them, then being able to track where you were on target and where off are the real keys.

Need to know the context of CF Dude too as his was a realistic response to many on CF who talk about $500 a month and $1000 a month. The traveling the world on a dollar a day crowd.
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Old 03-08-2022, 01:01 PM   #13
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I actually think sailboat under power is less efficient. They often have folding props that are not optimized for powering. At displacement speeds, likely doesn't make a big difference.
While I imagine this is the case for a sailboat-like FD hull with a sailboat-like diesel engine, I've found my SD 41' trawler w/ twins uses a good amount more fuel in practice than my 40.5' sailboat. 4gph vs .75gph roughly, even with a 2-blade folding prop.

Granted I cruise at 8.5kts with the trawler and 6.5kts with the sailboat... but in practice I think we probably burn 4x the fuel at a minimum versus a sailboat, and even more if you give credit for using the sails. So I do think it makes a more material impact for powerboats.

Our options for reducing burn are more limited, too. I doubt I could get much better than 2-3nmpg even reducing speed, whereas on my sailboat I could do better by sailing more, motorsailing, or reducing speed.
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Old 03-08-2022, 01:06 PM   #14
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Sorry, his fuel number is totally irrelevant without knowing how many miles he cruised in an average month. Fuel is one of my higher costs inspite of averaging over 3.5 MPG. I average over 5,000 miles per year. It will certainly be my highest single expense this year.

Ted
FUel number is irrelevant, but the overall model isn't. For example, if you take the same layout and assume 5000 nms @ 3 nm/gal at $4.50/gal, average fuel cost goes to $625/mo, average total cost goes to $3772/mo. Fuel is 17% of the total cost.

In my work, I do a lot of speculative business cases - first cut of go/no-go decisions for large projects. Interestingly, when I was a management consultant, the bulk of my work was because I would build an assumption-based model that gave enough information to make an informed decision. Any given line-item could be off - perhaps by a lot, but they almost always compensated. One was high, one was low, so the end result was remarkably accurate.

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Old 03-08-2022, 01:32 PM   #15
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I don't have a current budget just yet. Spending more effort just now riding herd on cleaning, repairing, replacing, and upgrading... a neglected boat. As it's turning out, with some luck, I'll hold our going-in costs down to under $100K. (Gak!)

When I DO have a current operating budget, it doesn't include Food/Living, most forms of insurance (except boat insurance) or Medical. I consider those to be costs I'd incur whether I boat or not.

I do know our boat insurance increased by about 5x over the previous boat, almost 95% of that due to buying a dead boat in Florida during the hurricane season. I also know that our slip fees increase, partly because we moved to a higher priced marina and partly because the boat is bigger.

I also know that our "get out of Dodge" (Florida) fuel bill was about 3x higher than a trip from Ft. Myers would have normally cost us. Almost entirely due to that pesky hurricane threat, thunderstorm threat (actual reality, several times)... and especially due to my Admiral's anxiety over all that stuff. IOW, we beat feet, no stopping to smell a rose or some coffee or whatever... and that's a whole different float plan compared to our more typical leisurely "trawler speed" meanderings up and down the coast.

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Old 03-08-2022, 01:46 PM   #16
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FUel number is irrelevant, but the overall model isn't. For example, if you take the same layout and assume 5000 nms @ 3 nm/gal at $4.50/gal, average fuel cost goes to $625/mo, average total cost goes to $3772/mo. Fuel is 17% of the total cost.

In my work, I do a lot of speculative business cases - first cut of go/no-go decisions for large projects. Interestingly, when I was a management consultant, the bulk of my work was because I would build an assumption-based model that gave enough information to make an informed decision. Any given line-item could be off - perhaps by a lot, but they almost always compensated. One was high, one was low, so the end result was remarkably accurate.

Peter
Sorry, the overall model is garbage. Without explanations, the numbers are meaningless garbage.

The form shows insurance / medical. Is this boat insurance or health insurance? Does he have health insurance or if retired, supplemental health insurance? Useless without contextual information.

Maintenance and upgrades? How is anyone supposed to understand if the guy does any maintenance or spent $15,000 on new electronics?

While this may have made sense to the cruiser, it's meaningless gibberish to anyone looking for factual cruising costs.

Ted
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Old 03-08-2022, 02:02 PM   #17
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Sorry, the overall model is garbage. Without explanations, the numbers are meaningless garbage.



The form shows insurance / medical. Is this boat insurance or health insurance? Does he have health insurance or if retired, supplemental health insurance? Useless without contextual information.



Maintenance and upgrades? How is anyone supposed to understand if the guy does any maintenance or spent $15,000 on new electronics?



While this may have made sense to the cruiser, it's meaningless gibberish to anyone looking for factual cruising costs.



Ted
In all fairness, this is month 57. The OP on CF posts every month with those explanations. My only point was that over the long haul, the costs become fairly predictable and fuel is not as big as expected.
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Old 03-08-2022, 02:11 PM   #18
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Thank you

Thanks for your post that started this thread. This gives me another perspective.

Cheers!
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Old 03-08-2022, 03:39 PM   #19
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At $5 per gal it’s only about $20-30 more per travel day. Not enough to change travel plans, for us anyway.
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Old 03-08-2022, 04:55 PM   #20
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That guy was 2 slips over from me when we used cove haven barrington RI for a summer. Ran into him again getting ready for passage in Bluewater Hampton . He’s a great guy but I don’t think typical of the average cruiser (if there such a thing). He has land based family along his way. Last I knew was still working. Has school age kids. To my last knowledge doesn’t do passages having fun wandering up/down US east coast. So his transportation costs are different as is food. He changes locale less frequently then many which may impact on maintenance and fuel.

Problem is with any of these expense breakdowns is:
Doing what?
Doing it where?
On what boat?

Outfitting your boat for blue water passage can double that cost.
You just about always anchor in the leewards so slip fees are way less. Perhaps a tenth of someone primarily using slips on the US east coast.
A bunch of kids is expensive.
And so on.

Think all you can say about these expense sheets is he’s done a great job delineating his costs. They probably aren’t yours nor will be if you go full time cruising.
Think everyone is different and cruises differently. Got friendly with about 12-15 owners of sister ships to my outbound. About 6-8 were doing the same as us. Caribbean for winter. Mid Atlantic to New England for hurricane season. Same boat. Same cruising grounds. Have good reason to believe for some annual cost was twice that of others.
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