Scream's Cruising Budget 2009-2010

Scream's Cruising Budget 2009-2010

Based on last year's results and our previous research we know that $500/week is an appropriate cruising budget for a 45' sailboat with a crew of two. We have been tracking our budget for our own planning and for the benefit of others. We divide 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. Discretionary: $100/week = $5,200/annual

Our budget year was May 15, 2009 to May 14, 2010. This year we covered 5,000 nautical miles to the previous year's 6,000. We spent:

  1. 65 days in El Salvador
  2. 15 days in Nicaragua
  3. 100 days in Costa Rica
  4. 96 days in Ecuador
  5. 12 days in Peru
  6. 9 days in French Polynesia
  7. 42 days in Canada
  8. 26 days in international waters










Petty Cash




Boat Maintenance















Please note that all costs are Canadian Dollars. For comparison the Canadian dollar averaged around $0.95 US during this year, which is at more than 10% higher than in our previous budget year.
Also note that Moorage has been moved to Boat Maintenance from Discretionary, and 2008-9 has been restated to reflect this change.


Provisioning is pretty basic everywhere we have been this year. This has kept our costs down as the luxury items simply haven't been available for sale.

We stocked heavily before crossing the Pacific, and Scream is still heavily laden. Therefore, our actual costs reflected here probably ought to be amortized against our remaining stores, which would reduce the expense by perhaps another $500.

I've read some discussions that US$15-20 per person per day is a typical budget for provisions. The only way I could spend that kind of money would be to generously supply top quality liquor. We only eat meat a couple times a week but we are not cheap in our provisioning: our brie cheese and Bombay Sapphire style of eating is budgeted at $7 per person per day and cost much less this year.

For reference, the best provisioning on the Pacific side of Central America is in Panama City and Playas del Coco, Costa Rica. We advise boats travelling south from Mexico to stock up at Mega in Las Hadas.

Petty Cash

We allocate petty cash every week and spend it freely, so we're always exactly on budget here.

For much of this budget year we have been in cash only economies. So petty cash has been used for more practical expenses than in previous years when it usually was spent entertaining the crew.

Boat Maintenance













Haul Out









When we lived in Canada we insured Scream with an excellent Lloyds-backed policy from BC Yacht. So, despite the expense, we took out an offshore policy from them when we left Canada. We assumed that the high premium was due to the dangerous waters and our lack of experience. So when we went to renew after yet another claim-free year, we expected the premium to drop substantially. It turns out that a premium of 2.25% of the value of the boat with a deductible of 3% of the value of the boat is their standard. After some lengthy discussions we discovered that past claims, experience, and waters travelled are essentially irrelevant to the cost. By our estimation, it is extremely unlikely that we would do over 5% of the value of the boat in damage. So we let our comprehensive insurance lapse during the budget year. We now have liability insurance for the boat and travel health for the crew. Despite all of this, our total insurance cost is up slightly from last year, as we enjoyed several months of cheap insurance in Canada in the previous year.

Scream finally left the desert that stretches uninterrupted from Santa Barbara California to Guatemala. With the return of rain came the return of wind, and a dramatic reduction of our diesel costs. We put 800 hours on our engine last year, for only 7.5 miles for every engine hour, including all of our time under sail. This year we put on only 350 hours, some of which was for power when our solar power failed. This year's ratio is 14 miles per engine hour. Obviously, this makes a huge difference for budget planning. Averaging in this year's result, I'll now recommend budgeting $0.01 per horsepower per mile for fuel.

We spent only a single night attached to shore this budget year, and only another six nights tied up to floating docks. Yet we managed to spend $660 on moorage. We paid for dinghy docks for 120 days, and spend another 8 nights on a mooring.

We heard in Mexico that haul-outs and painting were quite inexpensive in El Salvador and Nicaragua, so we didn't haul the boat in Mexico. It turns out that there aren't many facilities in Central America, and many of those are unreasonably expensive. A light boat of ten metric tonnes or so can be hauled for almost nothing in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, but you'd need to have all of the supplies already on board. Scream weighs 25 tonnes. For a boat of her weight the only haul outs between Puerto Vallarta and Panama City are in Barrillas, El Salvador and Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Barrillas quoted us almost US$4,000, which we thought was too much. So we were hauled in Puntarenas at a total cost of C$3,927. I understand that haulouts are much cheaper in Mexico and Panama, and recommend others use those facilities.

Scream has two 195 Watt Solar panels. On average these provide a about 120 amp-hours at 12 volts every day. This is sufficient, but we'd like a little more. Moreover, we'd like a backup in case our solar power fails, as it did in late October 2009. The wisdom in Canada is against wind generators, as Canadian anchorages have excellent wind shelter as a rule. We experienced very little shelter from the wind in Latin American anchorages, so we bought a wind generator while in Canada. We had to pay for extra baggage allowance to bring this back to the boat in Ecuador, where we we charged 80% duty in US$ on top of the amount that included 11% of Canadian taxes. In short, the wind generator has cost us $3,200 (or more than 10%) of our cruising budget for this year, and it isn't even installed yet.














We had no travel expenses in the previous year's budget. This year we took three inland trips, and flew home.   

Our restaurant expense is down as a result of cheaper costs in Central America and cost cutting changes to our lifestyle in order to better afford the travel.

While we were home in Canada we did not count our entertainment expenses against our cruising budget.

The Future

Despite having been over budget for both years, we are keeping with the $26,000 budget. We expect to overspend the boat maintenance budget again, with another haul out, a new main sail, and a new liferaft as major planned expenses. However, we expect to keep the overall budget on target by reducing discretionary spending by doing less off-boat travel. We expect our provisioning costs to be on budget this coming year.

3 thoughts on “Scream's Cruising Budget 2009-2010

  1. dad ensslen says:

    Harald and Dad here in St Catharines outdoors in the dark at 21h25 local admiring this prodigious work of yours, your wonderful pictures and this wonderful enterprise you two are embarked on.

    very best wishes.

    keep up the great work!




  2. Nobilis Reed says:

    I'm not usually into accounting but I actually found this interesting enough to read.

    I guess that's envy for you.

    Good sailing!

  3. SailLaVie says:

    Thanks for sharing all this information. Excactly what I'm looking for as I'm planning my very own trip

Comments are closed.