Most people's first question when contemplating a long-term cruise is “How much will it cost?” And invariably the answer is a “How much do you have?” But a new film - Cost Control While You Cruise by veteran cruisers Lin and Larry Pardey - gives a more constructive answer to the ever present cash question. They detail how to sail on a budget - tips that range from having an unstoppable boat to how to get the most out of your sails.
They go through a ton of categories - insurance, communication, haul outs, grocery shopping, buddy boating - but I think their two main points are having a solidly built boat with backup systems in place and enjoying life aboard. If you have backup systems, when your windlass breaks you can still get the anchor up, and if your boat is a comfy home that’s easy to cook, sleep and shower in, then you will save money by not being tempted to head to the marina every time you get a little stinky. They also conducted a 2009 survey of two dozen or so cruising couples and found that budgets ranged from $3,000 all the way down to $700 a month. The average cruising budget was between $1,200 and $1,500 depending on whether the cruiser was American (hint: Americans are the big spenders).
If you've ever seen any of the Pardeys' other work, this film is of a similar fashion. Lin and Larry give advice on how to trim your costs, interspersed with gorgeous shots of them sailing in exotic locales. My only suggestion for them would be to include Skype within their discussion of communication costs. Most cruisers we know use it regularly to call home, and it's either free or ridiculously cheap. We pay $5 a month and are able to make phone calls anywhere in the U.S., which is great especially if you have less tech savvy family members (I'm talking to you, Dad!) who are more comfortable on a phone than on a computer.
Vlad and I have really been working on getting our budget on track, spending less so that we can see more of this wide world, and Cost Control While You Cruise enlightened us on several ways to save while sailing. But more importantly, it reminded us to pay attention. If we focus on the little details, we can remain, for the most part, in control of our costs. We can choose to go to places off the usual path that are beautiful and amazing with the added bonus of having nothing to buy. We can track down good bulk food at good prices. We can choose to spend money on entertainment or eating out, or we can pick the cheaper option of going to the beach or cooking for ourselves instead.
I'd like to give a huge thank you to The Sailing Channel for letting us watch this film. It definitely helped with our budgetary woes. If any of you are interested in seeing it, here's a link to download the film or purchase the dvd.