Tied to the floating guest dock we felt like we had the entire world to our selfs, my crew danced and twirled in the warm glow of the evening sun, I took pictures of her, the boat and my entire world. There were no plans, no destination in mind, just two wanderers for the wind slowly adding little X marks to all the places on our charts that looked worthy of exploring.
Talking about sailing budgets is fun but in reality there is no such thing. Budgets are like diets, they work till they don’t which is more often than not. Right now I’m living more extravagantly than I have all year, my average expenses are about 11 bucks a day. The only bills I have are insurance, $50.00 a month which I just paid for 6 months so I’m broke again and $150.00 a month for slip rent. I spend about 25 bucks a week for food and maybe 20 every other week or less on cheap boxed wine.
Last summer cruising on $100 a week we felt rich and the only time we went without fresh food was when my galley slave was too cheap and rightly so to pay $7.00 for a head for cabbage. We didn’t go to bars or eat out with the exception of the times when very generous and wonderful people would throw a donation our way for a hot burger and fries and an icy cold beer which was pure heaven. Sounds dirt cheap but I’m not telling the whole story, we spent at least a grand stuffing the whole boat before we left for our 75 day journey. Deep in my heart I was secretly going to take the boat all the way to Alaska so every single inch of the boat was stuffed with snacks, beans, onions, potatoes, tortillas which last for months without refrigeration and a ton of cheese which we accidentally illegally smuggled into Canada.
We had no cell phones or internet which is why we didn’t blog much about the trip but I’ve got a dozen articles covering the whole trip it I ever decide to publish them. We left with 4 gallons of fuel but got so freaked out by all the motor boaters on sailboats telling us we couldn’t sail that we bought two cans and added 5 more gallons of fuel. I gave it all away when we returned as we used exactly 4 gallons for the entire trip.
We had a solar shower that was a dream come true for nakey showers in the cockpit and used our candles to save battery power. We set sail with 24 gallons of water and carried 34 on the longer stretches but never used more that 13 between water sources. Nothing broke so we didn’t spend any money on the boat although the boneheaded captian forgot to add a preventer so we had to jury rig one whenever the wind was more than 25 knots from astern.
We met rich people on small boats and poor people on large boats and everything I between including a rad young couple we know from the islands on thier awesome Flicka headed to Alaska.
My plan for this year was a 90 day passage up and eventually around Vancouver island but lack of crew has it looking like my summer will be spent in the islands working and saving to ship Sookie to the east coast for a winter in warm blue water. Flexibility is the name of the game, our lives were dictated by the wind and tide and nothing else.
It’s all about lifestyle, we wanted an adventure and were willing to put up with the cold wet spring to beat the masses, we would have loved to have had more money for treats in town but honestly didn’t spend much time in any towns. Our half sunk dinghy worked fine and I loved rowing even when it was half a mile. My tan calloused hands, strong back and ripped stomach was a great benefit of the dinky and my lack of a windlass. Pulling 55lbs in a hundred feet of water damn near gave me a coronary but it’s all part of the game.
Because we were so minimal on everything going to shore near civilization was always an adventure, a few gallons of water, dump the trash, a few ounces of fuel. We always kept the boat topped off not knowing when or where we might find an opportunity to restock. Our cruising average of about 500 miles was 3.3 knots but that’s because we usually refused to use the engine even when we could get it to run. Most of our passages were fast and comfy. The wet rough ones were exillerating and a great chance to learn the finer aspects of trimming and shaping our sails in those conditions. There was only one occasion where I wished that I could have reduced sail further when running with just our staysail we were becoming a bit over powered. I’m rethinking my new storm jib and think a reef or two in the staysail is a better and simpler option. The new geniker will also take us further and faster again both purchased second hand and in great condition.
The only item I really missed was a steering unit, having just lost out on my wind vane it’s back to the drawing board. Please don’t suggest sheet to tiller unless you have personally and successfully used it for more than 5000 miles :).
I look at other cruising budgets against my own but it’s hard to compare as I spend most of my time in marinas while I’m building the boat but I’m pretty sure that I could voyage full time on 12k a year not only living like a king but also being able to save enough money over the years to replace worn items and add a few small thoughtful upgrades should we decide to. The whole point of the Patreon account I opened was so that hopefully some day soon a can reach that dollar amount without having to sell my soul the the sailing rags and continue to write this blog which is a full time job in itself. I’ve taken a heap of shit for this move but after 11 years of giving it away for free I think I’ve earned the opportunity for a bit of love from people who have enjoyed the journey.
“We didn’t actually overspend our budget. The allocation simply fell short of our expenditure.”
― Keith Davis