A common sense look at expenses in the first three months of cruising.

Today I’ll discuss some of the generalities of how much money and effort it took to finally untie the docklines and roll out of San Diego, down the coast of Baja and into our first three months of cruising.  I closely watched our finances before we left…cause we were pretty low on funding due to factors out of our control.  I won’t rehash all that, but I’ve included some of those factors (for context) for a family that’s prepping to leave…then going into their first couple months of cruising.

Three months from leaving:

August, September and October were crunch months for us. We already had a plan that we were working from (Nov 4th backwards) and we had put together a list of “Shit We Still Needed to Buy or Do” in addition to that plan. The need to get our engine taken out, rebuilt, then put back into the boat definitely threw a wrench into our overall plan. We had already planned to sell and get rid of both of our cars but I had not anticipated that the money would have to go straight toward “progress payments” for the engine. We had also hoped that insurance would cover the cost of the rebuild. It didn’t. But, insurance did cover the entire cost of “discovery” and diagnosis of the actual engine problem.  In our case, this meant we needed to have the engine removed as our mechanics indicated we had thrown a bearing in the 6th Cylinder (and we had).  After diagnosis of the problem insurance indicated they would not pay for the rest of the repair. Another challenge was that we could not find out how much the final cost of the rebuild was gonna be and we didn’t have tons of available cash all at once, but we did closely estimate how much the 2nd boatyard stay was going to be (to have the engine put back in).  Knowing we were gonna need additional funds, we were forced into using our precious “income” stocks. This took care of the engine and getting off the dock and on Nov 4th we were finally away.

Coming Down Baja:

Coming down Baja from Nov 4th on…there’s not much you can spend money on unless you are forced to buy fuel in Turtle Bay at $7 per gallon from the Panga Fleet.  We spent a few dollars in Turtle Bay on salsa, chorizo and tortillas but we didn’t go out to eat and we didn’t spend much time in the town (we felt it was dirty compared to other Mexican towns).  There’s nothing to spend money on in Bahia Santa Maria,,,(but we did spend $15 dollars on the fish dinner at the Baha Ha-Ha surreal beach party).  Inside Mag Bay at Man O’ War Cove, where we spent more than a week…we bought some fuel at $6 per gallon and spent a few dollars at the tienda in town for some eggs and a few tacos and beer, but didn’t hang out there every day.  But if you sail the entire way down Baja, you’ll certainly lower your fuel costs (only about six boats in the whole Ha-Ha sailed the entire way).

Cabo San Lucas:

Getting into Cabo is a whole another matter. You’re faced with several choices in lodging…ie: putting your boat in a slip, anchoring out or moving on. We anchored the whole time with a plan to get a slip, but the marina is crazy and our big girl (Tulum) isn’t made for maneuvering.  So we never got a slip.  That will eat into anyone’s pocketbook.  But the fuel is more reasonable and there’s easy access to the fuel dock.  We also re-provisioned here…look out for the Costco and Walmart traps. They got us…in the sense that we had not seen a store in awhile and we probably provisioned a bit too much…watch this pocketbook trap. The other trap in Cabo is obvious: LOTS of great restaurants and bars to hit up if you’re into the party scene. We did go to a few restaurants while we were here, but we watched our spending and found some great places off the beaten path that were cheap (we were the only gringos). But I do suggest you provision here: Frailes and Muertos have no provisions and you may choose to go directly to the islands like we did instead of going directly into La Paz…a good choice for us.  Lesson Learned: After a $14 cab trip to Walmart, another cruiser told us we were crazy not to use Uber. This cut down trip costs to $3. Use Uber in Cabo and La Paz, much cheaper than any cabs.

November and December:

So November was “leaving the dock and coming down Baja”. November was a pretty cheap month but not likely to be replicated until we cross an ocean. December hasn’t been a cheap month but we anticipated these costs with our list of “La Pazism’s”.  La Pazism’s is our list of things we needed to do or get done in La Paz.  Our list included: fixing engine problems, fixing our bilge pumps, having someone look at our electrical backbone and allowing me time to do jobs around the boat. We’re about a ¼ of the way through that list as I write. We knew that December was going to suck (as far as spending goes) because we needed to be in a slip to get these things done and we needed to get professionals on the boat to take a look at some of the major items. Anytime and anywhere you’ve got to hire electricians or diesel mechanics…there’s going to be a higher cost. We also knew that when we had our electrical backbone and energy usage checked out in La Paz…they might tell us that our batteries were trashed. This is one of the things we were going to work through “off the dock” in September; but of course that didn’t work out. Getting to La Paz confirmed my fears about our house battery bank and we had to buy six new AGM batteries. This was one of those unexpected costs that made December so expensive. We also had to spend 3 weeks on the dock but that’s ok. All the girls on board needed a bit of a break (think hot showers and manicures) which has brought their happiness reserve back up to normal. I’m ok with this dock time too…as I get to do an oil change without pitching and rolling and we’re going to be able to see Star Wars!
So yep, November was cheap and December is going to be really expensive…so they will probably balance out. We’ve not had an average cruising month yet (in terms of costs) so I can’t benchmark that monthly spending yet. I will keep track of the first normal month of our cruising spending and keep you up to date on it.

Jumping to January:

I wrote most of this story in December while we were docked in La Paz, not realizing that we would have to take the boat into the yards here (in La Cruz, PV) for a week on the hard (ie: I had not figured that into my costs).  We had wanted to look into new canvas for the boat and a new sail, but decided that would have to wait.  Now that we’re back in the water and have dropped the slip for awhile, we’re going to look into that new sail.  I’ve grown confident enough in our getting paid income monthly instead of bi-monthly to be able to predict some of our spending….so I’ve started to VERY slowly start getting tiny bits of money back into our REITS (income stocks) and next month after the sail purchase I’ll start figuring out how to buy index funds.  Life on a sailboat isn’t predictable and isn’t the Corona commercial everyone thinks it is…but it has some really, really cool things that most folks only dream about.  Now that we think we’ve had most of our major repairs done (that we know about), we’ll strive to have a few months of average spending so I can baseline the costs.  We’re balancing between life on the boat, paying down (off) expenses and starting to slowly put money back into our depleted income stocks so we can eventually start living off that income while we’re still here on the boat.  On a sailboat you can certainly influence how much you spend and how grand you live….cause you can make your own power, make your own water and control where and when you go places and how much you eat out.

While we’re out here, I’m trying to find income through Patreon and income stocks.  I’ll work on building up our income stocks again very slowly. This will be a painful process as I had to drain our dividend stocks (to pay for the engine rebuild), but this time I may go for a varied mix that includes index funds.  Index Funds are the clarion call of the celebrated Mr. Money Moustache and one of the ways the FIRE Movement seems to make some of their hard-earned money. Here at LF2SF, we have no one who levies expectations on us except ourselves. We have not started to dive into YouTube yet because it takes a lot of work and expertise that we simply don’t have (yet) and I’m pretty comfortable with the website (that just turned five).  If you want to buy us a nice cold beer or buy Quincy some Kirkland brand dogfood, please consider taking a look at our Patreon Site and definitely follow our website. 

Disclaimer…we have used some free sunscreen from Raw Elements to test out full time living on the boat and we love it….thus we do feature it on the website.


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