Cruising Budget 2008-2009

The Budget 2008-2009

After years of research we decided that budget of $500/week1 was an appropriate cruising budget for a 45' sailboat with a crew of two. We found some information on this topic in many sources, but it mostly lacked the level of detail that we wanted. So we have been tracking our budget for our own planning and for the benefit of others. We divided our budget as follows:

  1. Boat Maintenance : $250/week = $13,000/annual
  2. Provisioning: $100/week = $5,200/annual
  3. Petty Cash: $50/week = $2,600/annual
  4. Miscellaneous: $100/week = $5,200/annual

Our budget year was May 15, 2008 (the day we left Victoria) to May 14, 2009. During that time we traveled about 6,000 nautical miles. We spent:

  1. 118 days in Canada
  2. 80 days in the USA
  3. 165 days in Mexico
  4. 2 days in El Salvador

The Actuals







Petty Cash



Boat Maintenance






















  1. All figures are Canadian dollars. US$ costs are billed at par, Mexican costs at 1/10. Neither of these exchange rates is accurate, but they are close enough for our purposes and their errors are opposing.
  2. In the year before we left we spent over 15% of the purchase price of Scream on getting her ready to leave. These sums are not included here. Furthermore, Scream was in excellent condition when we purchased her: most boats will probably need more than 15% of their purchase price spent on upgrades and repairs before they leave.
    However, there are some costs in Boat Maintenance (other) that reflect upgrades, additions, and other preparations incurred during the budget year.
  3. Provisioning costs were highest in Canada. This is not surprising for two reasons: first we provisioned mostly in remote locations, and second alcohol is much cheaper outside Canada. US and Mexican provisioning costs were similar at about C$13 per diem. We eat a mostly-vegetarian diet which helps to reduce costs, but we do buy expensive groceries, like imported cheese, regularly.
  4. Insurance costs were $750/year in Canada and $2,700/year outside Canada (about 1.8% of the purchase price with a 10% of purchase price deductible). The numbers don't add exactly due to our Canadian coverage covering the first week we were in the US.
  5. Our fuel costs were about $0.44/mile over all of the distance we have covered, including time under sail. I recommend that coastal sailors budget more, perhaps $0.015/Horsepower/mile (i.e. if you have a 50HP engine, budget $0.75/mile). Those going offshore should budget for whatever it will cost to fill their tanks at every place where fuel is available, which doubtlessly will result in a much lower per mile cost. We feel that our fuel costs are not indicative of the fuel costs of others for the following reasons:
    • We frequently sail in conditions where others motor. We often sail at 3 knots or less in winds less than 8 knots true. The median wind speed that we have encountered in our 6,000 miles this year is about 4 knots true.
    • We motor at low RPM which gives us better mileage. We know this isn't good for the motor but the engine noise at higher RPM is very annoying to us.
    • Motor oil which probably ought to be budgeted here but it is in "other". We spent another few hundred dollars on oil.
    • Petroleum prices were unusually low in 2008-9 and should be expected to rise.
    • We have an electric outboard and therefore have no dinghy fuel costs
  6. We did not haul Scream during this budget year. We hauled shortly before and will haul again shortly after. This is another $1,500 that others might want to add to their budgets. We assume that it will work out.
  7. We dislike spending time at docks, yet managed to spend an average of $8/day (or $0.18/foot/day) on moorage. Most boats spend much more, you can get by on less:
    • In Canada we took a dock almost once a week to do laundry. And we took docks twice to hold parties. In general, though, we incurred discomfort to avoid docks.
    • Along the US pacific coast anchorages are few and far between. We were forced to take docks repeatedly to wait out foul weather in regions that lacked any secure anchorages. We paid for moorage more than half of the days that we were in the US.
    • Once in Mexico it was possible to avoid docks again. We spent 23 of 165 days on docks, three times going more than a month between tying up for the night.
    • We spent 14 nights at a resort in Mazatlan as we had guests visiting. This accounts for most of the time we were at dock in Mexico and about 1/3 of the total moorage cost.
  8. Restaurants are a difficult topic. We enjoy eating out, but we have been successful in dramatically reducing our restaurant costs in comparison to previous years. On average we eat out about twice a week, often out of petty cash. We chose cheaper restaurants and never order the expensive menu items. Restaurants are cheaper in Mexico than in Canada. In the US happy hour specials in pubs can be very cheap, so averages are hard to determine. I'm not sure what to recommend for the budgets of others.
  9. We inhabited the boat for the full year and so did not travel home. Costs for our trip home this year will probably be $2,000/each.

4 thoughts on “Cruising Budget 2008-2009

  1. dad ensslen says:

    wow, that is interesting.

    boat maintenance you did not explain enough. $12,111 for what? that is enough to buy a sailboat.

    this is amazing accounting work you did, congratulations! And thanks for the sharing, this should be interesting and useful for sailors and dreamers. I will half my costs by halfing the size of my around the world sail boat and going solo and even more by just heading out to sea to loop the world.


    as alcohol and dairy products are bad for you, you can save on both.

  2. Thanks for this one. Very helpful!

  3. Dave Sherman says:

    Thanks for the info. It has been somewhat difficult to find information about current cruising costs. I spent $1000 a month on boat stuff 10 years ago during my circumnavigation - (and about $2000 a month total, two adults and 2 young children)

    I am about to leave on a 2nd try and I know things will be much more expensive, especially since the US dollar is not nearly as strong,

    I estimate that we will need at least $2500 a month not including health insurance. I am worried that it might be more.

    Dave Sherman

  4. Laura says:

    Thanks this was very helpful! I'm sure our costs will be more once we go, but this is a great guideline from someone who's actually done it. Everyone is different, but there are some costs, that everyone will incur, fuel, provisions, etc. It's the luxuries you splurge on that can kill your cruising kitty. Thanks for sharing!!

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