Cutting Costs While Cruising – Part Two

This is the second part of my post on how to save money and cut costs while cruising, which was inspired by Lin Pardey’s seminar at the Strictly Sail boat show in Chicago last week. Part one examines cruising styles, boat length, systems, and insurance. This post will cover health insurance, provisioning, keeping in contact with friends and family, haul-outs, and budget issues with participating in rally’s.

Health Insurance

• Lin says that she has seen very few cruisers have a need for major medical coverage, especially those under 50. Most medical treatments and pharmaceuticals outside of the USA cost about 1/3 of the price. Those traveling without pre-existing or chronic illnesses will most likely find self-insuring a much cheaper option than insurance designed for cruisers.
• For those over 50 or those who feel uncomfortable self insuring, Lin recommended Lifeboat Insurance Co.
• For additional information on insurance while cruising see my previous post on the topic here.

See Your Boat As A Warehouse

• Stock-up on what you like when you see it as you never know when you will be able to find it again.
• Provision from Costco and other warehouse stores when possible as you will get the best deal on bulk products.
• Avoid bulk products that come in one large container – they are too difficult to store and use when underway.
• When in an exotic port, if you see an item that looks similar, but not exactly the same as your favorite product, buy one and try it. It may not be the thing you are used to and if you buy a case, it could go to waste.
• Before you go cruising designate one night a week as canned and packaged good night. This will allow you to experiment with these types of foods and see what you like best.

Email, Radio, and Phone Connections

• Staying in touch every day can cost you not only the price of having those systems available but also the “emotional cost” of being distracted from living in the present
• Electronics such as phones and modems need to be upgraded when the companies upgrade, usually making these short-term investments
• Use internet cafes while in port to stay in touch. The act of going to the café will give you the opportunity to get off of the boat, see new places, and meet new people.
• Lin and Larry made the decision to only stay in contact while in port and to enjoy a sense of freedom from all others while at sea.

Cruise Solo

• Cruising in company is a surefire way to spend more money than cruising as a solo vessel. When you cruise with others it is hard to say no to invitations to go ashore and eat at nice restaurants, to go on shopping adventures, or to hit up the local pub. It is also harder to meet the locals, who will often make it their job to show you their favorite, and most likely cheapest, markets. Locals will often shy away from boats traveling in groups as they assume that you already have company or that entertaining 6 cruisers rather than 2 is too difficult.
• When traveling in a group it is also easy to fall into “keeping up with the joneses” when provisioning. If they have nice wine, you will be more likely to want to get better wine. If they have different or better food than you have found, you will most likely want to venture out and find it.
• When traveling with a group you will spend more on repairs and parts as you will have to rush order materials in order to keep up with the schedule set by the other cruisers. In addition to getting parts you may need to have work done in a more expensive yard because you cannot veer off of the planned course because you would be upsetting everyone else’s plans.
• Lin suggests rendezvousing instead of rallying. Make plans to meet up in future ports in a few weeks or months. This way you can take your time to get there, arrive as a solo ship, and enjoy their company once you arrive on your own schedule.

Avoid Flying Home

• Put away the money that you would use to buy a plane ticket and instead by gifts in exotic ports to send home
• Make phone calls ashore instead of emailing
• Invite people to come and visit you. Offer to pay for ½ of their airfare and get a hotel for them nearby. A boat is a very small place, with little privacy. Make your guests comfortable onshore and take them for day sails or explore the port with them by day. You will both have a better visit if everyone has a comfy bed and a little space.
• If you want to get home sign up for a delivery or as crew on a vessel to your home country. In these circumstances you will get paid to go home and only need to purchase a one-way ticket back to your boat.


• Learn how your boat should be supported when on the hard. Take a good photo study of the hull and keel of your boat so that you can be responsible for choosing your cradle. This will save you big $$$.
• Dive and clean the bottom of your boat before a haul-out. This will save you one day in the yard.

Budget Data

Lin and Larry recently interviewed 30 cruising couples who had been at sea for more than 18 months. The average monthly budget was $1400, with Americans averaging $1500-1600 and Europeans $1200. All of these cruisers spent less money in their first year than in their second. Lin suggested that in the second year out most boats will need at least one major repair and a serious re-provisioning for spares.

“Don’t learn too much before you go – enjoy the adventure of learning along the way” –Lin Pardey

This entry was posted in Home Page, Margaret's Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *