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Tom and I often wonder about the cost of cruising when we think about sailing our CT41 around the world. We really want to do it on a budget, so we have money to do other things like fly home to see family, buy and maintain scuba gear, etc. We are hoping to set a budget minimum of $40 per day for both of us, which would amount to $1,200 per month and about $15,000 per year. Super cheap way of living, right?
Sometimes that type of sailing budget seems impossible, but then I stumbled upon a European couple who try to stick to 500 British pounds per month, which is about $660 usd, and $8,000 per year! It’s simply amazing that the cost of cruising can be so low.
It’s way, way, way cheaper than paying rent/mortgage for a house or an apartment, and allows you to travel and see the world in your own tiny floating home. I don’t know what could be better.
Meet Elena and Ryan
Elena Manighetti and Ryan Osborne have been cruising onboard their 26′ Heavenly Twins Catamaran for about five months now. They bought the boat for under $12,000 back in August of 2016, and are her third owners. According to their website, Sailing Kittawake, they chose the boat because she is a strong and sturdy sea boat, but can be a bit slow.
The two met in England, and decided to take off to cruise as their 30th birthdays rapidly approached.
“We thought there was more to life than working into our old age to pay for a house and cars,” Elena said.”We wanted a life of adventure and travel where we could work less and spend more time doing the things we love to do. Ryan is from south-east England and I’m from northern Italy, near the mountains.”'We thought there was more to life than working to pay for a house and cars.' Click To Tweet
Their plan so far is to sail from the United Kingdom to Malta, filling their days with snorkeling, hiking, rock climbing, free diving, camping and scuba diving.
The cost of cruising according to Elena and Ryan
The couple’s goal is to cruise on 500 pounds per month, but if they earn more money in any given month, they bump that up to 650, which they use to pay for boat upgrades and luxuries like eating out.
They keep costs down in a number of different ways, which they talk about in a post called, “9 tips to sail the world on a budget.”
- Anchor instead of using a marina.
- Get a simple boat. Elena said: “Go for a ’70s or ’80s heavily-built fiberglass boat, which will be more forgiving of your mistakes. There’s plenty out there in the low price range and it’s really easy to get a good simple cruiser. The cost of a surveyor is easily made back by negotiating on the faults they find – it’s the best money you can spend on a second-hand boat. They’ll also show you any show stoppers.”
- Work while you’re cruising
- Research the cost of living of the countries you plan on visiting
- Eat and drink in. “When you’re sat on a boat in a beautiful anchorage, you don’t feel the need to go out much, so we only go to restaurants occasionally. We’re not huge drinkers, but we usually stick with canner beers, which are super cheap,” said Elena.
- Fish and forage
- Sail rather than motor
- Get a good cell phone plan (I use Google’s Project Fi, which can be used internationally)
- DIY maintenance “As we do all of our boat maintenance ourselves, we tend to keep maintenance costs down and we try to put aside a bit of money for the winter, when we get most of our jobs done,” said Elena.
Elena said there aren’t really many disadvantages of cruising on a budget, except for one: “We can’t spend money on attractions or renting cars, which sometimes prevents us from exploring on land.”
But the best is this: “We’re usually always anchored in stunning places.”
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How they afford their life on the water
Both Ryan and Elena work on the go. Right now, Ryan is concentrating on the journey and videos for their website, while Elena is doing online marketing work. She said she’s busier than she’d like to be, and Ryan plans on finding some design and boat work in the future to help supplement their income.
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She said its really important to know sailing on a budget is possible.
“Sailing on a budget opens up the possibility of setting off into a more adventurous way of life when you’re still young enough to make the most of it,” she said. “Many people plan to wait until they’re older and better off, but life gets in the way of their dreams. Sailing on a budget also makes this way of life possible for people who are retiring early or retiring on a smaller income.”
She said the best advice she heard is summarized by the famous sailing couple, the Pardeys: “Go small, go simple, go now.”'Go small, go simple, go now.'Click To Tweet
The cost of cruising is millennials’ biggest hurdle
Elena and Ryan have figured out to sail on the cheap, something many millennials don’t even know is possible. According to a study by Boat US, boat ownership among young people is way down, and one reason is that they are afraid of the cost. A lot of time, it’s assumed that cruising is something only retirees and the super rich can do, with visions of fancy sailboats or gigantic yachts.
But the good news is this: Cruising is accessible to anyone.
Elena said there are so many things that make this lifestyle worth it.
“We love warm evenings at anchor with a beautiful sunset, we love the moment the sails fill and you turn the engine off to be silently pulled along the calm ocean, we love dark star-filled nights with bioluminescent dolphins shooting around Kittiwake’s bows like torpeedos, we love being free to explore the world around us at our own pace. Most of our favourite places are islands, as they always have a special feeling to them. Some highlights have been St Agnes (Isles of Scilly), Houat (Brittany), Saint Nicolas (Iles de Glenan) and St Martin (Cies Islands). But next year we plan to cruise around islands in the Mediterranean most of the time, so we feel the best has yet to come.”
Elena and Ryan’s story is so inspiring to me! If they can do it on 500 euros per month, then Tom and I can definitely do it on $40 per day. I hope!
Question: How much do you spend on cruising?