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