Friday, September 14, 2012

Cost Control While You Cruise: A Review

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. 


  1. Sounds like my kind of film.

    Maybe throughout your posts you can give us examples of what you are doing to control cost.

    I am a penny counter in our land life. Each and every thing we buy has serious consideration behind it. Even $5.

    I'm hoping you learned enough to keep you out there cruising at least another 3 years:D. In time to meet up with us.

  2. Thanks for the info! I wish we had The Sailing Channel on our cable ...

    Like Dani, we're penny pinchers and we THINK about every purchase. I'm thinking our frugal ways will be a big help when cruising. Going to watch this video!

  3. The thing they leave out of their books and DVD's is all the money they rake in from the above and appearance fees. We flew to Annapolis last year for the Sail show. We were in coach, they were in First class! I met Capt' Fatty there. He is the real thing, a Sea Gypsy.

  4. Just sat down with Lin & Larry Pardey to get ready for the 2012 U.S. Sailboat Show here in Annapolis, MD. We'll be in Section F, booth 25 or thereabouts. Like last year, the Pardeys have made the trek to Annapolis via their "land Yacht," a small camper that sits atop a pickup truck. Lin & Larry prefer the camper as it fits their modest lifestyle of going small, going simple, and going now. Last year, they drove their camper cross country from California - no first class air flights for them. These are two lovely people who managed to escape to the sea for adventure and romance. They've supported their 40 years of frugal cruising by writing magazine articles then graduating to books and finally how-to sailing videos. The only thing the Pardey's "rake in" is admiration and thank you's from sailors around the globe. They are regular people who go out of their way to greet and talk with sailors wherever they travel. Don't know who Colin saw on an airplane last year, but it wasn't the Pardeys who were on the road 30,000 feet below as they navigated their camper to Annapolis. If you are looking for "the real thing," then let me introduce you to Lin and Larry Pardey. You'll find them hanging out on the harbor wall just in front of our 8x6 booth at the Annapolis Sailboat Show, Oct 4 - 8.

  5. We pre-ordered their DVD through their website and had a 'date night' together watching it. There are a number of good ideas, especially when it comes to the social costs of cruising. That adds up mighty quick. We had the good fortune several years ago to meet the Pardeys and see their boat at the wooden boat festival up in Port Townsend. Talk about a learning experience! Pretty amazing all the stuff that was packaged in that small boat.