In Episode 22 we answered the question How Much does a Bluewater Sailboat Cost? and promised to follow up with more financial information about the ongoing costs of living and traveling aboard a sailboat. Cruising is a dream many share, and understanding the financials are often critical to making the dream a reality.

Before buying our boat, we set a monthly spending goal of less than $3,000 a month / $100 a day. Our plan is to document all our expenses on a monthly basis to provide some insight into what it costs to live, work and cruise aboard a sailboat on a modest budget. We’ll begin each post with a summary of the month’s major events to provide context for the expenses. We’ll also break down the expenses by category to give you a better understanding of what to expect if you’re harboring your own cruising goals.

July | Month 1 – $3,849.99 ($849.99 Over Budget)

We closed on our boat on July 1, in Racine, Wisconsin. July is the first full month in our Monthly Cruising Budget series, and also our first full month of boat ownership. We haven’t included any one-time expenses — like the boat itself, or sales tax (which we detailed in a previous post How Much Does it Cost to Buy a Bluewater Sailboat?). We are including recurring expenses, including insurance, haul out and registration, which are not tied directly to the cost of the boat. (Note: We pulled a few expenses from the end of June we had to pay prior to closing and stuck them in this first report for simplicity’s sake.)

We spent the first month moving aboard, taking a few daysails and getting to know the boat. We wanted to make sure we spent some time aboard before diving into making changes or upgrades. We spent a total of $3,849.99. If we didn’t purchase the boat, and we removed all the large expenses we incurred from buying the boat (haulout, survey & insurance) this would have been a pretty typical month for us.  We’re not big spenders and live comfortably on a pretty reasonable budget. Included below is a pie chart to help visualize just how big those expenses actually were.

Top 5 Expense Categories – First Month of Sailboat Ownership

  1. Professional Services – Includes haul out and survey just prior to closing on the boat
  2. Insurance – Thankfully this is a once-a-year payment
  3. Grocery – When we used to live on land, this was typically our largest expense category behind housing
  4. Supplies – A myriad of little bits & bobs for cleaning and moving onto the boat
  5. Equipment – Includes items to make living aboard more comfortable, and things like appropriate PFDs which we needed before going sailing.

Included below is a chart that breaks down all expenses into their respective categories.

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Keep in mind…

Every person’s experience will be unique. We’ve decided to make long-term travel a lifestyle instead of a long sabbatical. Therefore, we are continuing to work while we travel, and have certain expenses associated with that work. It forces us to do things we otherwise wouldn’t if we were traveling for pure pleasure, but also gives us flexibility in other ways, too. We’re careful to not spend frivolously, but we’re not trying to travel as cheaply as possible. You won’t catch us trying to prove how frugal we are.