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How much does it cost to sail our world

When I was doing my research in 2015 I found only a few articles that gave me somewhat of a clear idea of what sailing actually cost. What i got out of the article was an average of $3,500 per month for a family of 4. After sailing for a half a year I have my breakdown.

My cost after 6 months of sailing from Aug 2016 to Feb 2017 was $18,600. This equates to $3,100/month or $95/day. In the 6 months I crossed Mediterranean, Atlantic and East Caribbean. Price of the boat and initial updates are not included.

From time to time I had crew-mates but I adjusted the spending to properly reflect the cost a solo sailor. If you want to calculate cost for more people add $10 per person per day. The reason why it’s not low is because you are adding only food and personal spending, all other costs are the same.

Here is how it breaks down for me:
Food: $833/m – This is a combination of grocery, eating in a restaurant and coffee. Coffee proves to be a big expense for me. I need wifi and so I buy coffee when i don’t have a data-plan. On average I eat in a restaurant only 2 to 3 times a week. In cheaper countries I go out more. I do like to eat fruits, those are usually more expensive to buy. I started fishing so I do spend less money on meat.
Non-Food: $617/m – For me this includes mainly data plans and customs charges :). They can go up to $300 (Bahamas). Others include insurance, travel tickets, some clothing and rentals. I run a digital agency so a big chunk, ~$100/month went to data plans. When I traveled on land I usually took public transportation, only rarely taxi. I did fly to EU for a week and bought music festival tickets but didn’t really buy any new clothing or tech.
Marinas: $283/m – In Europe I stayed in marinas and harbors most of the time because there was no other option. The prices get more expensive the more west you get. I have a 45ft mono-sail. If I would have a catamaran these costs would double. I didn’t buy a cat because I thought my total cost would double but now, after talking to number of cat owners this would be the main added cost. You still spend the same on diesel and repairs. Even though you have two of everything you use it half as much so it balances out.
Diesel: $417/m – I average 3.5 litter of diesel per hour of motoring. I used to motor most of the time. Its because I wanted had set myself a hard deadline to cross Atlantic and I was starting. Now, that I have more loose deadlines its about 10% of the time. I spent $84 in diesel crossing the Atlantic :)
Boat: $950/m – I didn’t count the boat purchase price nor the add ons (in my case ~$120K) but i did count all the repairs. In general, older and bigger the boat is, the more repairs it will require. My boat is 7yo and has been taken care of very well plus I continue with regular maintenance, mostly myself. I was lucky and have not had anything major break (this changed in March when i destroyed my anchor holder and had to drop my anchor and chain, still need to get new). Most of the money went to additions: whisker pole, sat phone, sails. Some are more of a ‘nice to have’ than requirements, in reality I use half of the updates I got. It’s fine to be safe but also good to keep things simple.

I project that my next 6 months will be a bit more. I will spend less on diesel and marinas because I sail more and anchor more. But I will do a big yearly maintenance and plan to keep the boat in dry dock for 4 months while I go to europe.

Don’t let your life’s dream fade away. The costs are not huge. Set a date, list your roadblocks and how to overcome them. Follow your dream!

I can give you more specific info or validate your estimates if you reach out.

Here is a link to a new article I wrote: How much does it cost to drive through South America

27 thoughts on “How much does it cost to sail our world”

  1. Au is dreadfully expensive
    marinas worst in QLD Mooloolaba 61 for yours a night
    food s very exp.
    nz has many and good anchorages but really exp food
    anchorages worl wide become fewer
    i am abt to cruise eu waterways, most nights will tie on to river bank, diesel france1.10, food is cheaper and cheaper again in De.

    1. True that… some places are more expensive others less. That is why i waited half a year before publishing this, to get a realistic average.

  2. A very nice article about the average monthly expense. I am glad to see it, I was looking for one. Please continue to publish your sailing tips and routes.

  3. Good on you Daniel for sharing all these with us if you had a diary or photo will be nice to see you if you’d like to share I enjoy reading your article thanks again

  4. Wow it’s a clear overview.but we 2 people and 2dogs ad also sailing now in the Mediterranean. We don’t spend more than 1800 euro.and it can go down if your on a budget. We anchor .And avoid harbours. If you want to life on less its absolute posible. We are enjoying sailing. For us a way too continue with sailing.

    1. Totally, there were a few things that kept my price high:
      1. deadlines – wanted to get to canary islands in time for ARC
      2. newbiness – just started sailing and didn’t know all the tricks yet

      On the other hand, my available budget when I got in was 3500/m so i didn’t mind the 3k because it was still under what I estimated.
      I got to say that i have been lucky. Nothing major broke on the boat. If it did, i would spend the extra budget quickly.

      My luck turned when making it from Turks to Bahamas. I had to dispose of my anchor and chain. I also destroyed the anchor holder while trying to pull the chain out. So now I have to buy a new anchor and chain and am paying for marinas till I get to Miami (in a few days). I will definitely go over $3k for march.

    1. I know, it was not the best choice. I wanted to illustrate that people think its expensive to travel around the world where in fact its not… and i wanted to give that boat some recognition, poor thing is anchored off of San Juan PR and dying. I am changing it :)

  5. Thanks Daniel This makes really interesting reading. Just a couple of questions and thoughts. I guess you will be transiting the Panama Canal. What is the cost of that these days? Also I think you will find you will anchor a lot more in the Pacific. I hope you add New Zealand to your countries to visit
    Cheers
    Philip
    Bay of Islands NZ

    1. I do plan to cross but I am not there yet, just getting to Miami. I would like to make it to New Zealand. Always enjoyed the documentaries from down under.

    1. Cost of sailing varries on the location but these will keep the costs down everywhere:
      – dont set tight deadlines. They will make you waste diesel or do stupid things like run aground, and break things.
      – stick with basics: You dont need expensive electronics or fancy gadgets to sail. I seldomly use my radar and other things and would be totally fine without them. Depth sounder and autopilot is all i need. (I use my phone for navigation)

      Dan

  6. Squares with my experience, spent about 3000$ a month for two people in the Bahamas in three months (but including 4000$ for boat purchase (bought and sold a boat, that was the difference), but it was only a 30ft boat and it was missing a few bits for more extensive cruising.

    1. Each place is different. I would have spent less in Bahamas if I wasn’t a fool and didn’t have to ditch my anchor in middle of nowhere :)

  7. Great article, thanks for posting! Great comments too. Im a racer for the time being, but plan to cruise in the future. I would love to see some photos of your journeys. Sent you a friend request on Facebook. Cheers!

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