On our second year sailing, we kept the 2017 target of a 2000€ monthly budget for the three of us and also the boat maintenance, marinas, etc.
Of course, we are not silly and know that we could hardly achieve this target this year due to the travelling we did on the offseason in the beginning and end of the year but we still wanted the pressure to try and keep the expenses more controlled.
There was also the case of the works we had requested to be done on the canvas for the Bimini, Sprayhood, Lazy bag and sails service. Although we had a quote for these services the company we choose to use, North Sails, didn’t do neither a good job neither on time, charged us as extras for items that had been discussed during the quotes preparation to be inclusive and took advantage of our condition of having to leave the country by a specific time frame due to the limitations of the Schengen rules for John and the boat.
This increased our costs immensely, but lessons were learned and another company added to our NO GO list.
Still, we had a very good winter plan to try and bring the yearly average expenses closer to the target values if we excluded this big slide on the canvas works.
We were going to winter in Tunisia (6 months), a much cheaper destination this was a place where we could focus on the maintenance works and reducing our budget.
So let’s look at how we organise the 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 5 years old. It was already fully equipped for ocean sailing and what was missing was installed by us the year before. So at this point, there’s not much to be done on the repair department (knock on wood) only cosmetic repairs, general maintenance and some improvements resulting from our living experience of this boat (stuff like extra shelves and lighting upgrades, nothing really needed but desired).
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 2018 budget and try to break down some of those categories for a better understanding of the potential costs of sailing.
This years budget was greatly affected by the canvas works as mentioned before, the job ended up much more expensive than originally planned by a few thousand euros (Shame on North Sails) It only ended reaching a 90% completion stage in Tunisia by a local company and once the cockpit cushions were finally made but there are still some details and errors from North Sails outstanding.
In the end and although not fully completed it was worth the investment.
The canvas works were included in the Boat Maintenance category and that’s what skyrocketed that category, other minor purchases like the purchase of a portable air conditioning unit and a portable generator are included.
There were a few trips to IKEA to buy some boxes and to complete my carpet project, plus a few other bits and bobs at the hardware shop.
We have a continuous effort on stocking for spare parts, etc.
Bit by bit this is still our biggest category but I guess there’s only so many spare parts you need to carry and I hope a constant restock as needed will eventually get the number down.
Note for the future, Italian prices were just ridiculous and a total rip off.
A surprise item this year was the Boat Fuel, we were expecting to sail a lot more than we did but when we did our end of the year reconciliation we discovered we had motored as much as the previous year. This was quite surprising but the crazy Mediterranean weather we felt in 2018 dictated that.
On the other hand, we were quite spoiled the previous year with the much cheaper price of fuel in Gibraltar, the fuel prices in the Balearics and in Italy were just insane!
Marina fees in the western Mediterranean are just outrageous during summer (summer season seems to extend until the middle of October in Sicily?!?) but we managed to dodge the bullet quite efficiently I would say except when we had to wait for Ella’s food to be delivered for extra 5 days than planned.
The 2018 crazy Mediterranean weather also forced us to seek protection on two occasions in a paid mooring area, hopefully, we will get better at reading the weather besides the weather forecasts.
The Travel category reflects our travellings in the offseason in the beginning and end of the year so not much to say there, there were no surprises but for 2019 we expect to bring this category way down.
We both flew from Portugal to Australia for two months in the beginning and then John flew from Tunisia to Australia while I flew from Tunisia to Portugal, both for 10 days at the end of the 2018 year.
Dining is still our guilty pleasure, unfortunately, this year we confess there’s not much to show or talk about from our culinary experiences besides saying that the quality ‘vs’ price ‘vs’ variety was exceptionally disappointing.
Food in general in the Balearics was a tourist trap on a very bad note, the menus are the same boring pizzas and sandwiches everywhere which we found to be poor quality.
Where was the local food?! The traditional dishes?!
Gone out the window with the intention of boring the tourists to death with the same old same we can find at any beachside development in Europe while emptying our pockets with poor quality produce.
We could count this year the exceptions and wonderful experiences with the fingers on one hand.
Italy, on the other hand, delivered the expected. Sardinia was the best, the rest was quite acceptable and reasonably priced.
Provisioning was also disappointing in the Balearics but luckily we had left Lisbon with The Dream fully stocked up with produce from my mum's farm, so at least for olive oil and dry grains we were very well taken care and stocked and we still have plenty. We had also stocked up for six months while in Lisbon of rice, pasta and all other long shelf-life products taking advantage of having access to a car.
2019 will see the budget reduced we hope, and reflect better the costs of sailing.