Friday, December 29, 2006

Cruising: Full Time or Not

Vero Beach Public Library

I've written before about how the cruising life can be partially financed by the money one saves by non needing to support a landlubber's life. We don't pay for a house, or a car, or home insurance, or car insurance. We don't pay property taxes. We don't need a health club. Our energy footprint is small so our annual budget for fuel and heat is only a small fraction of what we would pay on land.

On the other hand, one thing I underestimated is how much more expensive it is to maintain a boat if you are living aboard. Consider our current problem with the engine. If we were not living aboard, and if Tarwathie was up on the hard. we could take several months to complete the re-powering project. We could shop more for a bargain in buying an engine. I could do more of the work myself. It would cost thousands of dollars less. But we can't do that unless we were willing to live in a motel for those months, or to find a way to mooch off family or friends, while the work on the boat was done. It would cost thousands of dollars to live in a motel for several months.

I have a similar problem with our anchor chain. We have one anchor with 220 feet of 5/16 BBB chain. The chain is old and rusty. Every time we prepare to anchor, the rust stains get all over the deck. I've been looking for a way to get it re-galvanized. It is not easy. There are only a few places in the country who do that work. The nearest to me is in Tampa. It weighs more than 300 pounds so I can't just drop it in the mail. If we had a car and if we could afford to be without our anchor for a month or two, I could drive it over and get the work done. If we need our anchor every month for years on end, then re-galvalnizing is harder to accomplish. It pushes me toward the more expensive solution of buying new chain.

I've come to realize that not living aboard continuously would simplify a lot of the boat maintenance and make it less expensive. That doesn't fit with our chosen life style.

I think that the practical solution might be to get out of the country. Several books that we have read mention putting up for six months or so of boat maintenance and restoration, but the cruisers find less expensive places in the world to do it.

I know that several readers of our blog dream about living the cruising life themselves some day. To them I say consider this factor. Truly full time cruising has a cost.

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