The Cost Of Living On A Sailboat? Updated Expenses In 2021

Quick answer for those who have never lived on a sailboat: the cost of living on a sailboat, like on land, can be different. It depends on how much money you have and how you spend it.

The cost of living on a sailboat is from $3000 to more than $4000 per month. Yet, one person can also only lose $1000 per month, but another can waste $4000 for his living.

At Windrider of the Rockies, we will detail nine basic types of expenses for everyone. The article does not mention personal expenses because that amount will change according to each person’s needs.

Let’s start with our cost sheet for last month’s Atlantic cruise. It will help you plan your future trip in detail.

Cost Of Living On A Sailboat Monthly Per Person

Cost of Living on a Sailboat

The Cost Of Living On A Sailboat Monthly

There is a very common myth that only very wealthy people can afford a sailboat trip. It was like this before. It took a lot of time and money to build a wooden ship, and caring for it came out in a round sum. 

With the advent of fiberglass, the cost of building and maintaining a sailboat has dropped dramatically. At the same time, the accompanying infrastructure began to actively develop, which again reduced the cost of parking up to docks near restaurants.

So, what does the cost of living on a sailboat trip consist of? There are nine major cost blocks:

  • Sailboat rental: ranges from $20,000 – $50,000 depending on the destination and size of the boat.
  • Maintenance: $1,000
  • Marinas vs. Anchoring: $346
  • Provisions: $500
  • Dining Out: $300
  • Fuel: $ 2,433
  • Internet: $150
  • Entertainment: About $30
  • Personal Care & Clothing: About $83

Total expenses: $22,555

The calculations do not indicate the services of the captain. And if your team has 6-10 people, you will greatly reduce the total cost.

Then, we divide the cost of boat rental, maintenance, anchoring, and fuel, among 10 people. Let’s do the following four calculations:

  • Renting charge: 20000/10 = 2,000
  • Maintenance: 1000/10 = 100
  • Anchoring: 346/10 = 34.6
  • Fuel: 2,433/10 = 243.3

In total, if you join the cruise with nine other people, the amount you need to prepare for each month will be $3,440.7 per person*.

* Health insurance, business expenses, taxes, and donations or gifts do not come to this overview. These expenses depend on each person, and we excluded them from this article.

Sailboat Rental ($20,000 – $50,000/Month)

Cost of Living on a Sailboat

The Sailboat Rental Varies in a large range

This cost item is mandatory and the same for everyone. So, boat rental consists of the following articles:

The sailboat itself ( $1,600 – $2,600/month)

Here, the range of prices can be very large. We are trying to select options in which the price per crew member is in the range of $1,600 – $2,600 per week. It depends on:

  • Size: The price of a boat depends on its size; the larger, the more expensive it is
  • Type: A catamaran is always more expensive than a boat of the same length.
  • Season: There is an expensive high season with good weather and a cheap low season when the weather conditions deteriorate somewhat. 

Need to understand that you can not buy the weather. And even in the high season, you can get into bad weather and vice versa; in the low season, it is comfortable.

  • Age of the boat: The newer, the more expensive. 

Captain’s Services ($5,100 – $6,000/Month)

Your charter company can provide a captain. The price tag depends only on a specific company and is $170 – $200 per day.

In case of the fact that you have a sufficient number of certified captains in your group, you can eliminate this cost from the total expenses.

Transit Log ($115 – $231/Boat)

A transit log is a document allowing your boat with a crew to be in the state’s territorial waters. The price depends on the country and the specific charter company and is $115 – $231 per boat.

Final Cleaning ($100 – $350/Boat)

It is the cost for cleaning the boat after the previous crew and preparing to move in a new one. It is a mandatory payment, and you will not be able to clean up yourself. The price depends only on the charter company and ranges from $100 to $350 per boat.

Dinghy Motor ($80 – $120/Boat)

The sailboat has a small rubber boat so that you can go ashore in unequipped places, where the yacht itself cannot come close because of the draft. 

Formally, you don’t need to take it, but paddling, especially on the waves, is so-so a pleasure, so we consider it a must. The price is $80 – $120 per boat.

Bed Linen And Towels ($6 – $23/Person)

It is an additional option, and formally you can refuse it and bring your own. But the savings will be $6 – $23 per person, and it is not worth it for me.

Maintenance Expenses ($1,000/Boat)

Cost of Living on a Sailboat

Routine boat maintenance

Maintenance, Parts & Tools ($687)

Once a year or depending on the fouling of the underwater part of the boat with shells and algae. It’s recommended to lift the sailboat ashore, clean it, and then paint it with special antifouling paint. 

If you paint yourself – as, for example, we did it on the Canary island of El Hierro, the cost of lifting/lowering with a special crane and paint is about $600. This charge includes a month of parking on the ground and ascent and decent cost.

The largest repair to date cost us about $2,000. It’s about replacing the heat exchanger with repeated engine flushing from the seawater that got inside the cylinders. We repaired it in Alicante, Spain.

Insurance ($233/Boat)

All charter boats are insured but with a deductible. It is exactly the amount you need to pay on deposit in case of minor breakdowns on the sailboat. 

If there are no breakdowns, the boat owner will refund that deposit to you at the end of the boat rental. As a rule, charter companies allow you to block a deposit on a credit card. 

But you need to be prepared. If you break something on the boat, you have to pay for it. If the charter company requires a cash deposit, the owner may throw the entire crew off, but this is a very rare case.

Marinas Vs. Anchoring ($346/Boat)

Cost of Living on a Sailboat

An Anchorage Area

In the Mediterranean, we anchored on the Columbretes Islands, Spain. In Corsica, we were off the coast of Sicily or the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. 

In the Canaries, we anchored in Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarotta and El Hierro. Here we even managed to break the anchor winch. We bought a new one. We stood for free in the Gambia, in the riverbed in Senegal and Cape Verde. 

The most expensive parking is in the Galapagos. There are, in principle, only five places where you can stand. And to stand for three weeks in one of them costs from $ 1000, including visas.

The cost of daily parking in Europe varies from $6 to $230. If you pay in advance for a month/six months/a year, you can get quite rather discounts. 

The rate depends on the season. In winter it is cheaper. It’s also cheaper without water and electricity.

The lowest price per day that we saw was in Almerimar, southern Spain, in winter. It’s 7 euros without water and electricity and 10 euros with them. 

It is guaranteed that you can only anchor free of charge, but this somewhat reduces comfort. So during the hike, we try to alternate anchorage with anchorages in marinas or on berths near cafes. 

Here, too, it is widespread. The anchoring charge depends on the size of the boat and the type. A catamaran is always more expensive, even if the boat is shorter. 

Provisions ($500/Month)

Cost of Living on a Sailboat

Provision For An Ocean Crossing

Groceries

On purchasing food in different countries, a family of 4 people can spend from $300 to $600 per month. When preparing for a long transition, costs depend on the size of the reserve-food fund.

In Panama, we spent 1000 $ on purchasing food for the Pacific Ocean. We can only last four months on stocks alone if it squeezes.

The price of food rises with the distance from southern Europe to the west. On the islands, it is more expensive than on the continent because almost everything is imported. If you buy local fruits instead of European apples, you will save money.

In Latin America, the lowest prices in supermarkets are in mainland Mexico and Cuba. In Colombia, it is somewhat more expensive. 

Next, the islands of the Pacific Ocean are the places where prices tend to increase as they move away from the mainland.

There is nothing unusual about the basic diet:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables in abundance
  • milk and eggs
  • bread when not in transition
  • cheese and chicken once a month
  • canned fruit, vegetable, and fish
  • fish: we catch ourselves
  • sweets-cookies for tea
  • flour, pasta, cereals
  • packaged juices
  • vegetable oil

Furthermore, you can combine the meals on a sailboat trip. We partly eat in cafes, partly buy food and cook by ourselves. On the sailboat, there are all the conditions for this. 

Based on experience, we can say that we spent on average about $100 per week. But, of course, everything depends a lot on the range of products.

Drinking-Water

The boat has additional water filters, so we didn’t buy bottled water. After leaving Panama for the Pacific Ocean, we started to use a desalination watermaker. 

We no longer buy water at all. But the cost of the desalination plant is from approximately $3,500 to $11,000. See the details about installing a watermaker on a sailboat and its feasibility in this video:

Dining Out ($300/Person)

Cost of Living on a Sailboat

Dining Out In Tulum

Enjoying local cuisine is one of the joys of traveling. It’s hard to resist the Mediterranean Spanakopita or the Caribbean Trinidad & Tobago: Crab & Callaloo.

Therefore, you cannot avoid spending money on dining out. Visit this video to discover popular beachside restaurants along the Tulum coast.

Fuel ($2,433/Month)

Cost of Living on a Sailboat

Petrol Engines Vs. Diesel Engines

We wait for the wind we need in strength and direction and go our way with enough time and patience. The main engine is the sails. In this instance, the fuel cost is zero.

But, even a sailboat needs diesel fuel. 

  • Firstly, entry and exit from the marina are always carried out on the engine. 
  • Secondly, the wind does not always exist, and it makes no sense to stand still and wait out the calm, like ancient sailors.
  • Thirdly, the wind, unfortunately, does not always blow there, where necessary.
  • Finally, the sailing route against the wind will be 2-3 times longer in time, which, as you know, is also money. 

The cost of diesel fuel, which our rather gluttonous engine loves, is $3.38 per gallon in the United States and $6.045 per gallon in Spain. 

Typically, an average sailboat consumes from 1 to 2 gallons per hour. The smaller motors will consume about 0.5 – 1 gallon per hour. 

Most motoring sailboats can travel 4 – 8 nautical miles for an hour. If you run the engine 24 hours a day, you will spend $2,433 in a month on 720 gallons of diesel. So, we tried to use the engine to a minimum.

Internet And Satellite Connection ($150/Month)

Cost of Living on a Sailboat

Satellite Communications

The information from this article will help you save around the amount of money that you could spend on paying for satellite communications

Inmarsat BGAN

Monthly Inmarsat BGAN Cost varies from $139.99 to $2,840.00. Check more details out here! When connected to a modem, an ordinary handset turns into a satellite phone.

Xgate

We have it installed on iPad, Android smartphones, and Macbook. We used the iPad all the way. 

Xgate interacts with RedPort Optimizer and accepts and sends only allowed Internet traffic. In our case, this is an email. There are no unauthorized connections that do not occur.

It is clear that the costs in this case directly depend on the traffic passing through the modem. We tried to reduce it to the maximum. Correctly configured forwarding from the main email address allows you to pass only the necessary mail.

In our Atlantic crossing, which lasted 23 days, we used satellite communication every two days. We downloaded weather forecasts, received and sent 3-8 letters, and sent a post to the site. As a result, we spent 650 Kilobytes, less than a megabyte, which costs $3 on our tariff plan.

Our total costs for satellite Internet in the Atlantic Passage include:

  • Equipment: Inmarsat BGAN modem (used) and handset: $475. Report Optimiser: $202
  • Annual subscription fee: We chose Inmarsat BGAN Flex Airtime Plan, which offers us 20MB per month and costs $79.99.
  • Traffic in 23 days: $3

We use coastal Wi-Fi whenever possible. We have installed an antenna on the mast – an amplifier of the coastal signal. 

But lately, it has been doing little to enhance, despite its working condition. The Internet has risen in price after Europe. 

Entertainment ($30/Month)

Cost of Living on a Sailboat

Our On-Board Entertainment System 

Music, movies, and books are consumable entertainment for everyone. 

  • Netflix: Monthly plans vary from $8.99 to $17.99
  • Spotify Premium: $9.99 per month
  • Amazon Kindle: From $49.99 to $249.99

To reduce this cost, you can share your account with others or enjoy free services. Here are a few free apps for movie watching on your smartphone:

  • Showbox
  • Mobdro
  • ThopTV
  • Cimabox
  • Hulu

Personal Care & Clothing ($83/Month)

Cost of Living on a Sailboat

Hair And Skin Care 

Hair And Skin Care For Sailors 

The sailboat does not have a backup power source for the use of hairdryers and straighteners. So, you will save a lot of costs compared to living on the mainland.

However, it would help if you thought about several bottles of sunscreen to protect your skin from the harsh sun. Tinted moisturizers with SPF are the optimal choice in this case.

Short hair will help you reduce the cost of hair care and convenience in daily life: the less equipment and cosmetics you use, the more time, space, and money you save.

Laundry

Cost of Living on a Sailboat

Laundry On A Boat 

Easy-to-wash, easy-to-dry clothes are ideal for minimizing laundry on the boat. It’s recommended to wear clothing that uses UPF synthetic material and is hand washable. Meanwhile, merino wool is suitable for winter clothing.

We also did bedding, sleeping bags, and towels every time we anchored the boat on a certain island.

The cost of the laundry service varies depending on the area. For example, it ranges from $1.50 to $4.00 per laundry bag in the USA, while we spent $9 on laundry service in the Canary Islands.

Household Chemicals

Cost of Living on a Sailboat

Household Chemicals 

We rarely use detergents for washing dishes, plumbing, and everything else. You can perfectly wash the dishes with saltwater.

For life on a sailboat, installing a foot pump for supplying seawater to the galley is necessary. It allows you to save money and not to poison the marine flora and fauna.

The exception is washing powder. We use it a little because of our unwillingness to pour soapy lye into the sea. We try to buy it with the label “bio”. 

In especially severe cases, baking soda saves. It’s an extremely useful product on a yacht that replaces all cleaning agents, baker’s yeast and baking powder, as well as a dozen medicines. 

In addition, soda is the enemy of mold, which inevitably appears in various “weak” places of the yacht in a warm, humid climate. With an aqueous solution of soda, you can treat these wettest places.

Tips: How do we reduce the cost of living on a sailboat?

  • We hardly eat meat
  • Do not buy promoted soda and sweets
  • Do not smoke, practically do not drink alcohol,
  • No fashionable gadgets and clothes 
  • Internet calls are significantly cheaper than telephone lines
  • Self-driving boat
  • Self-repair

How To Calculate The Budget For A Sailboat Trip?

To calculate the budget for a sailboat trip, we have to consider all the nuances that a beginner may encounter.

Where To Go?

As with any big trip, you should plan your trip and choose the right place and time. The most accessible countries are traditionally Chicago, Edgartown, and Newport, Atlantic City, some of America’s best yachting destinations. 

There are many boats in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. The rental price is low, with an abundance of inexpensive marinas and rolling routes. 

In addition, there are many low-cost direct flights to South America. And the average bill for restaurants, cafes, and food is slightly lower than the average in Northern countries.

When To Go?

Choosing a low season for a budget trip is best: May or September (Montenegro), late October, or even early November (Turkey and Greece).

How Many People Are In The Crew?

The most budgetary and correct way to charter a boat is to gather a group of ten friends. Ideal if there is a yacht captain among them. Then the rent for a good boat at the end of the season.

Very often, after the first sailing trip, people start to study as a captain. For many, it becomes a discovery that is not at all difficult. 

After that, you can take the boat and recruit the crew yourself. It means that you can save a lot.

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Final Thoughts

In our experience, if you don’t get too chic or renovated, the cost of living on a sailboat is $3,000 – $4,000 per person per month.

Whether it is expensive or not, everyone decides for himself. But, we can say that the price is comparable to the offers of travel agencies. 

On a sailboat trip, you will change your anchorage every day, explore new sights and swim in the purest seawater, which is very different from the one next to the hotel’s beach.

Leave a message if you have any other charges. Thank you for reading!

 

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