Our first year of sailing started officially only on the 1st of June, the first day that we no longer had jobs and were getting ready to move back to Europe.
The budget records start obsessively on that date but they also include all previous spending on The Dream, like the dry dock fees from late 2016 until June 2017, the maintenance services that were done during that period and all related purchases, the first trip to Gibraltar to complete the export procedure after the purchase of The Dream, but it doesn’t include the expenses related to the purchase itself.
Doesn’t include our flights back to Europe but includes all costs since we’ve landed in Paris (Ella and I) until we arrived to Lisbon, hotels included.
Might be a bit confusing but it made sense to me to track down these costs. So the final result is not a real reflection of the Sailing costs but the costs related to starting this lifestyle.
On this first year besides the costs already mentioned above, there was also a lot of money invested in upgrades we wanted and also on equipping The Dream as a home. We had sold most of our cooking and dining stuff so new things that fitted the available space had to be purchased.
We targeted originally to have a 2000€ monthly budget for the three of us and also for the boat maintenance, marinas, etc. but obviously we ended way out of that amount in year 1. The budget was set to start creating the habit of thinking about our expenses more often. We had decided against having a budget for the upgrades and would buy what we wanted and needed regardless of the budget but with some common sense, after all, we didn’t have jobs any more.
During the season 0, we did a big shakedown sail, covering a couple of thousand nautical miles while still installing some equipment, this meant staying in marinas all of the time so the costs were quite high.
The hope was that on the 2018 season this would change and we would stay at anchor a lot more.
So let’s look at how we organise our budget and understand the costs of sailing and the pitfalls that can and do occur.
It’s important to understand that one thing is the lifestyle costs, another is the actual sailing costs. And these do change considerably depending on the boat size, age, how much of the maintenance are you willing and know how to do.
A multihull will in principle be more expensive than the same length monohull in Marina costs for example and an older boat will probably require more maintenance than a more recent one, you have two engines to maintain not one as in a monohull.
But of course, each case is different.
The sailing grounds can also make a huge difference when it comes to costs (marina prices, fuel price, cruising fees) differ quite a lot even within the Mediterranean Sea.
We tried to track all our spendings obsessively on a spreadsheet I created, therefore very few expenses are outstanding or missing.
By using different categories for each expenses type and with the help of some graphics we can see the overall budget distribution by month and by year.
So what goes in each of our categories for easier understanding and extrapolation of costs:
Boat Maintenance - spare parts (anything from fuel filters to screws and zip ties), tools, gadgets, services done by technicians, haul outs, my IKEA outings, etc.
Boat fuel - this includes besides the obvious diesel for The Dream, the gasoline for the dinghies.
Mooring/Marina - any time we need to go to a port, dock, or paid for mooring balls, etc.
Safety gear - this could have been considered under boat maintenance but when we started the spreadsheet we had to invest or were planning to spend serious money on EPIRB, personal AIS beacons, lifejackets, Sailing weather gear, so we decided it was best for us to consider a category on itself for these.
Insurance - this one is obvious with the detail that because we are doing a very slow around the world adventure we need different policies for different situations and periods of time.
Visas & fees - includes any cruising fees, passport visas, passport renewals, etc
Clothing - any clothing item that is not sailing foul weather gear.
Dining - we used to eat out a lot, so we decided this was an important category to understand our spendings. So anytime we dine out or just go for drinks will be reflected here.
Ella - any expense related to our dog. Food, toys, veterinary, etc.
Entertainment - all tours, and real toys we buy, stuff like the paddle boards, fishing and spear gear because we also do it for fun.
Medical - any medical expenses or trips to the pharmacy.
Provisioning - all food matters purchased to stock up the boat and day to day meal preparation, onboard drinks included.
Technology - we love personal gadgets and cameras. Our website fees also go on this category.
Travel - all trips that are not done on The Dream. Plane, train, ferry tickets (unless part of a tour and in that case will be part of entertainment) taxi, Uber rides, etc.
Utilities - SIM cards, internet and John’s occasional haircut.
So The Dream is a 50ft monohull and is now 4 years old.
It was already fully equipped for ocean sailing, but in this first year, there was quite a lot of stuff to be bought to make it a home, a few repairs and big upgrades installed by us to make The Dream ready for our slow around the world adventure.
The crew composes of John, Myself and then there’s Ella.
I’m a pescatarian, John has a normal diet and is an easy mouth to feed, Ella eats a special diet kibble.
These choices also change the costs from one crew to another.
So let’s check the 2017 budget and try to break down some of those categories for a better understanding of the potential costs of sailing.
Boat Maintenance was our biggest expense, with good reasons. From late 2016 up to July 2017 The Dream made acquaintance with the travel lift a handful of times, we purchased an 85lb Mantus anchor, a new foldable fibreglass bottom dinghy, a dinghy 20hp outboard, a 60 L Digital watermaker from Schenker, a Hydrovane, a spare Raymarine autopilot, a mini chart plotter/depth sounder to be fitted on the dinghy, we paid a 50% deposit for the canvas works, sails clean and servicing, and a nice stock of the necessary spare parts.
We also equipped The Dream to become our home with many IKEA trips.
Mooring/Marina related expenses were quite high, from the moment we left Lisbon we completed an extensive shakedown sail going from marina to marina while installing some of these upgrades. At the end of the year, we left The Dream in Cascais Marina for the winter while we travelled to Australia on the firsts days of 2018.
The travelling costs were mostly related with returning to Europe to come and live on The Dream although the actual flights are not covered, the car and hotel related costs of John driving from Lisbon to Paris and back to pick me and Ella are included.
In sum, the 2017 year budget doesn’t give an image of Sailing costs but it gives a good idea of what could be the costs of starting this lifestyle.