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|:: Money Saving Ideas ::
| Cruising America's Great Loop or sailing the seven seas for that matter; the type and size of boat, the distance traveled,
the time it takes, the amenities on board, and the final cost demands you remain in your comfort zone. The major expense of which,
always boils down to your own individual lifestyle, boating philosophy, and your pocket book.
We are all creatures of habit. There are simply some comforts we all have that we are not willing to give up. These are the
things that keep and make us happy. They don't change when you move onto your boat! On land or sea, we all have our "comfort
zone". Our individual needs and wants don't change, not even in Paradise.
So, don't be mislead, when I speak of cruising on a frugal budget, I am NOT speaking of cruising with an improvised or
financial hardship - that will NEVER work. I am speaking strictly about a conscious financial decision between that of being a
consumer or a long-distance cruiser.
For most, it is a question of: "More fuel or More fun?". I choose more Fun. My boating philosophy has always been, "More
Fun than Fuel". It is also "Go small, go now, and stay out longer". For most of us, It's a question of the "dream boat" or the "dream
voyage"? As most of us can't afford both. It is a matter of a "look at me and see how far I've come" boat; or a "I want to discover how
far I can go boat." It is your choice! It is your dream. It is your pocket book!
If you choose the right boat, then your individual choices in lifestyle will be the majority of your
cruising cost. This allows you to spend the majority of your budget on yourself and on what makes
you happy. It is a choice between more fuel or more fun. . .
When cruising America's Great Loop, there is simply so much to see and do, most 'first timers'
are simply taken back by all the amazing destinations along the way. Many of which are among
North America's most wonderful and most popular places to visit. Over looking or not planning to
stop, linger and explore the fantastic on shore experiences along the way is a big mistake. So when
you plan your voyage, leave plenty of money in your cruising kitty to have lots of fun ashore.
When it comes to your boat - bigger is not always better. Like your shoes, your boat should
simply fit comfortably. In many cases, the wrong boat ends up as a vessel of burden, rather than a
vessel of freedom. In all areas along the way, we have (more times than not) come across "Looper
boats" for sale (most at give-away prices), simply because the boat proved too expensive for long
distance cruising, and they remain unsold for that very same reason.
One boater we met along the way had purchased a 'Fast' Trawler to do the Loop. It was a
real beauty for sure. Problem was, he never stopped to calculate his long distance cost of cruising.
Even with his fully paid for vessel (no boat payments) his 50 footer with twin engines were burning
an average of 30 gallons of fuel an hour. This resulted in his spending over $3,000 a week for fuel.
That, in my opinion, is not my idea of having fun!
As you can see, "dream boats" even fully paid for, can be real "dream busters". The wrong
choice of boat can be an overwhelming financial mistake. It this man had of chosen a 'true' Trawler
with a full displacement hull and small single engine; in a 6' shorter boat, his fuel would have been
$500 a week or less.
NOW. . . I'm not saying one is right and one is wrong. All I'm saying is "know what
you are getting into, before you buy that boat!"
Fact of the matter is: Many "bigger" boats, those over 40' are virtually "local" boats. Meaning -
if you go out to a popular Marina on one of those wonderful days that God made just for us
boaters, these are the vessels that are still in or very near their home port Marina. Why? Many of
them cost the owner $500 in fuel just to take them out for an easy cruise around in familiar waters
for the day.
But for those that have more money than they can spend in one lifetime. . . It is all together
a different story. I'm certainly not one of them.
|Your Boating Philosophy:
For the frugal voyager, "More Fun than Fuel" makes for a great plan. This allows you to
spend more of your money on yourself, (eating out, entertainment, stopping to see the sites, etc.)
and having fun; instead of on your boat for more fuel and boat related expenses.
It is a philosophy that understands your boat should be one that gets you where you want
to go safely & comfortably, NOT to show the world how far you've come. As a result, going small
allows a frugal voyager to be a more happy voyager.
While some will tell you a good live aboard boat for cruising will cost you upwards of
$150,000, I say, give me a frugal voyager, and I'll show you someone who can not only buy the
boat, but have enough change left over to go cruising for 2 or 3 years. Again, it is a matter of
lifestyle, philosophy, and pocketbook. Obviously we all have different lifestyles and comfort zones.
This small a budget isn't going to work for everyone. It will work great for those that need or want
Is your dream of a "dream boat" or is your dream of the voyage? There is a big financial
difference in the two. Long-distance cruising does not require a "dream boat", and in fact, the
"dream boat" may be your single biggest obstacle preventing you from living your dream. It
certainly was mine!
Out here, both on the Loop, and on the Seven Seas, most experienced cruisers have
purchased used boats generally 40 feet and under, costing less than $50,000, and are living
their dream. While those dreaming of cruising in a "dream boat" are working every day to pay off
the boat so they can then afford to go cruising.
FACT: Out of almost 130 million recreational boats registered in the USA, fewer then 1% are
over 40 feet.
|It is all about your Lifestyle, Philosophy, and Pocketbook!
How frugal is frugal? And just how frugal can you be?
|The Frugal voyager (continued) - click NEXT
|You can mange your food budget, and eat better and healthier if you plan your meals and plan ahead to obtain your provisions at
area Super-Markets. Trust me, prices for Ice, food & beverage as well as for all the things you need and want at most Marinas, will be
even higher than the highway robbery prices of expensive road side Convenient Stores. Here again, one of the reasons a good Dinghy
will save you money, as in many cases, you can dinghy within a hundred yards of a supermarket or Walmart, where otherwise, you may
be miles away if you have to walk from the nearest Marina.
If you love seafood and like to fish, you're in luck, and you're in for a real money saving treat. I seldom (very seldom) don't have
fresh caught seafood on my 'catch of the day' menu. I almost never have steaks or red meat on my boat, as I reserve that for eating out.
My "boating philosophy" includes "eat to live on the boat and live to eat ashore". So it is easy fast mostly cold finger foods on the boat,
and likewise, I eat out at a places known for their great steaks and scrumptious seafood specialties. (Hurricane Patty's, Bobby's Fish
Camp, Boss Oysters,The Fisherman's Wife, The TImbers, and a hundred more favorite stops along the way.)
Along any route you take, you will discover lots of tempting places to stop and visit. From small town areas to the big city lights, you will
cruise by State and National Parks, Museums, Historical sites, Famous Landmarks, and many more really great waterfront restaurants.
The good news is that a lot of places to stop along the way offer free courtesy docks.
While it is great to cruise on a frugal budget and we encourage it. . . It is all together a different story attempting to cruise if you
don't have enough money. There is a mighty big difference between these two. Cruising with too little or not enough money is
guaranteed to make your voyage miserable.
You can count on temptations along the way to stop and spend money. My most irresistible temptation is eating out, and in fact,
'eating out' accounts for more then half my total annual budget, but that is something I would be doing living on land. So when I speak of
cruising on a 'frugal budget' - I am speaking of it in terms of a conscience financial choice, NOT as a situation of financial hardship or just
not having enough money.
|:: Food - Provisions & Eating Out ::
As we've mentioned, if you are cruising in a live a-board size vessel, a dinghy is vital to cruising
- especially if you are cruising on a frugal budget. Cruising long-distance, your boat is your home.
Your dinghy is your SUV, Taxi, and Pickup truck on the water. Over the course of your journey, it will
save you much more money than you will pay for the purchase of a good dinghy. It can save you a
ton of money in Marina & docking fees, it will also prevent you from having to walk miles farther to
the nearest store for provisions; and it makes for great fun, exploring & fishing in places where your
deeper draft "Main Ship" cannot go. Thee are a lot of FREE Dinghy docks all along the way.
Is another huge money saver. I anchor out an average of 5 nights a week. I only stay
over-night at Marinas in places I want to visit, and plan for doing laundry and buying a lot of
provisions. You can plan your stays at a marina around the things you want and need to do. I have
never paid for a 'mooring' as there are almost always good anchoring locations near mooring fields
and even near most Marinas. Anchoring out of course, is FREE.
Docking your boat over night at a Marina will cost you 'on average' about $1.00 per foot for the
length of your boat. Many charge extra for electric, water, and cable TV and Internet hookups and
pump outs. Information on Marinas such as fees and amenities, can be found in Skipper Bob's
Publications as well as in Cruising Guide Books and Marina Websites. Some of this information
however may be dated or out of date material, so it is a good idea to call ahead for two reasons: 1.
to verify they are still in business, and verify their slip fees. 2. We have discovered (especially of
late) that this is a great time to negotiate your dockage fee. Most (if not all) are eager for your
business, and will quickly drop the advertised price and /or offer you some extras.
Along your route in many areas, it will appear that you are as far away from civilization as Easter
Island is from Hawaii, but never fear - there is almost always a Starbucks and/or a Walmart nearby.
Plan your shopping. Try to avoid buying your provisions at a Marina or Convenient store where you
will pay more.
|Where do you want to spend your money.
For More Fun or More fuel?
|Choosing The Right Boat
|:: The Gulf ICW ::
|:: The Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway ::
|:: The Great Loop Route ::
"Bring Your Own Boat"
and take the voyage of a lifetime
America's Great Loop
|:: Cruising on a frugal budget ::