Since we came back to live around the same city, I’ve met several other women sailors and also read more blogs about other people’s adventures. It’s quite surprising how often the question of the sailing budget comes around the corner with other sailors or just our family. We consider that we live with a lot (largely)) but apparently when we compare with our contact’s budget we are nowhere close to their figures annually. We live with less than 10 000 AUD/year; for both of us.
I made a little spread sheet to explain:
This might seem a lot to you or very little. For the ones who think it’s a lot: yes we are working constantly to reduce our needs and we will bring that figure down on our next trip. The less we spend the farther we can sail before going back to work.
Now, if this seems to you very very low; let me explain and give a few tricks. For starters, we have a light sailing catamaran, built by my talentuous skipper thought out to produce the LOWEST maintenance cost possible while achieving marvelous performance sailing (light light light). Ben and I can repair/fix absolutely everything which is not too electronically complex. Thanks to his incredible cleverness and practicality and a little bit to my engineering degree, we are technically wired, both of us. Inara is made unsinkable and doesn’t have the following: bilge pump and diesels (the main sources of a worry on a boat). Our Philosophy is KEEP IT SIMPLE AND IT WILL BE SAFE.
We also have normal expectations of comfort: no washing machine, no TV, no air con, no complex shower system, no abnormous fridge/freezer (a full 40L Evacool fridge last us 2-3 weeks which is anyway what the fresh food usually last..). We like to do most things ourselves because it makes us happy, the notion of “chores” is overrated. We also have a plethora of toys (light) onboard to entertain ourselves: mountain bikes (very important for shopping and discovering), spearfishing equipment, hiking equipment and of course…. Windsurfing equipment. Believe me we are always super busy, not really a lazy life out there…
Because we are always busy, we buy less… we have the shops in horror.
Which brings me to the next topic: food. We value fresh organic food and I love cooking (especially on the boat). We try to eat red meat once a week only and it’s almost always kangaroo meat. We just found out that we are happier that way, red meat is hard to digest and makes you dozy. We eat chicken a few times a week and fish aplenty when we catch some. This happen often when we cruise, we love fishing. I buy my veggies in farmers markets and I found out that the same amount of veggies cost me half the price that when I get it from Woolies or Coles. AND they last longer! It’s up to you to organize yourselves with farmers markets when you are cruising. I repackage the meat to take less place and it last longer. For example, I would buy a full chook and consume it bits by bits (breast, legs, wings, carcass). A full organic chicken used this way make us 5 meals for the two of us along 10 days. We carry a good assortment of cans and plenty of options for Asian food. I can’t live without cheese so we make sure the fridge always have some and I bake my own sourdough bread with homemade culture, propagate yoghurt from used jars, make anzac bikkies and shortbreads, grow sprouts and herbs… the classic yachtie gal… we carry a massive assortment of sauces, spices and teas.
A few ideas of what we love to eat regurlarly (homemade): Roo burgers, asians stir frys, Indians curries, satays, miso soups, enchiladas, tortillas con frijoles, slow cooked chicken soup, crumbed fish and rice, ratatouille, crepes and the very occasional australian baked dinner. When we are under sail, I make salads sandwishes and toasts. But sometimes, I can as well bake a “tarte aux pommes” while we are flying at 15 knots….
Because we are very busy, exploring everywhere during the day, we tend to eat a massive breakfast (coffee muesli, yoghurt and fruits) and then have a large meal of the above around 4-5 pm, cup of tea and bikkies at night time. That’s it. Less dishes to wash, less haziness to digest and more time to be with the Nature.
We don’t drink much alcohol; a 6 pack every couple of weeks, sometime per month. This can lead to funny situations: while invited for sundowners we turn up with 1 L of fresh green coconut water harvested by Ben. We tend to share a drink (a can of cider or beer) at sunset because we found out that we were enjoying more the symbolic than the drink in itself. Unless after a hard day of windsurfing: a Mojito with fresh mint from the boat garden is mandatory!
What else? Our gas consumption is quite typical. And our fuel consumption is mainly for the dinghy! We never motor anywhere else than arriving and leaving anchorage. We tend to do more and more under sail anchoring and leaving procedures because we hate the sound of fuel being burned. It’s a lot less hassle to just sail everywhere!
We don’t go to marinas because there is nothing there we want: we don’t need water, electricity, fuel or social status. Also, because we are confident in the way to manage our boat, we save on the insurance: why spending so much money when we can just be careful, anchor responsibly far from everyone and fix everything ourselves? In the worst case scenario (gale at 50+ knots), we can beach Inara in a corner somewhere or tie her in the mangrove. Ben has been living for twenty years on his own, with his boats, without any insurance. For many of boats owners, those thoughts are frightening. It’s quite a risk.
Anyway, marinas are bad: they are expensive and your boat is locked into a slot baking in the sun. It damages the paint, the sail covers, wooden decks, the ropes, everything… so it makes your boat age faster and therefore cost money also in the long term in terms of additional maintenance cost. And seriously? Who wants to live just next to others people, able to hear them when they go to the toilet or put music and pay more than for an apartment on top of this? Anyway, plenty of people live in marinas and it’s fine. It’s just not for us, Inara and the BenAnna team like to be free to swing at anchor, enjoying a 270 degres view…. (and 360 sometimes…. Inara….!!!)
We get books at book exchanges and clothes at op shops. Most of my clothes have an average of 5 year turnover because I only get things I really like of durable quality….
Finally, there are the phones and internet…. I didn’t realize until I did the exercise but that’s way too much! Hopefully when we cruise oversea next time we might be able to bring down that expense. But it will probably be replaced by satellite phone bills for weather forecasting and cruising permits….
All of this goes with a philosophy too: the more frugal we get, the more we can explore everywhere and spend days living our life properly instead of laboring for someone else. We don’t believe there will be any system of retirement living in 20+ years. We don’t understand the material acquisition race that everyone else seems to be having. We don’t want to spend the best years of our life paying for the system, the banks, the rates, just to be able to go somewhere warm when we are 60 and our health is not so good anymore. So we retire on the go: 2 years on, 2 years off, 1 year on, 1 year off, depending of our mood. We don’t need any kind of center link support and we don’t use any; our only objective is to stay in a good health, be free and be happy.