19 May 2017

Cost Of Cruising In Florida & The Bahamas | March & April 2017

We track and report every penny we spend living aboard and cruising on Tickety Boo, our Moody 346 sailboat for a couple of reasons.

1 - It helps us see where our money is going, helps us make informed choices about where to spend our money, which in turn helps us stretch our money further so that we can keep adventuring longer.

2 - We found it really useful to check out other people's cost of cruising when we were starting out, so we figure we can return favor by sharing ours.

You can find details of how much we spent cruising in Florida and the Bahamas during March and April 2017 below. Keep in mind that this is what works for us. Everyone has their own budget and priorities and everyone tracks and reports things differently.

You can find links to other cost updates from ourselves (on Tickety Boo, camping across the States and our previous boat in New Zealand) and others on this page, as well as on The Monkey's Fist.

Cost of Cruising In Florida & The Bahamas  | March & April 2017

Overall, we spent $2,012 during March and April which isn't too bad considering the fact that we had to buy Tickety Boo some stuff before we headed off cruising. And it's also a lot less than how much we spent in the previous month.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of what we spent, here are a few things to note:

1 - All costs are in US dollars. The Bahamian dollar is on par with the US dollar, so no conversion was required. It's pretty cool that you can use US currency in the Bahamas. No need to worry about exchanging money.

2 - Not all expenses are included - here's what we've left out:
(a) We don't report how much we spend on alcohol. I remember reading some horrible, judgy comments in a blog post a few years back about how much someone spent on booze, so I left it out when we first started tracking our cruising costs back in New Zealand. For consistency's sake, I've continued to leave it out when tracking our cruising costs.
(b) We've also left out our costs for medical insurance. We didn't think it made sense to include insurance costs as they can vary so widely depending upon your nationality, where you cruise, what level of coverage you want and can afford etc. In case you are curious, while we're back in the States, we do have insurance through the health insurance marketplace (aka ACA/Obamacare), primarily to protect our assets and cover us in case of a catastrophic medical condition.
3 - I've included any shipping and taxes we've paid in what we report. Florida has a 6% sales tax. The Bahamas has a 7.5% VAT.

GROCERIES | Total = $423.17

This category includes everything we put in our bodies in terms of food and drink (excluding booze) that we prepare ourselves. It doesn't include things like paper towels and ziploc bags, which I know some people would classify as groceries. Sure, you could probably eat them, but they wouldn't taste very good.

To be honest, this is more than I had hoped to spend, but we did do some last minute provisioning in Florida before we headed off. We also spent far more time than we would have liked in Marsh Harbour in the Abacos due to weather and other issues. The upside of our time in Marsh Harbour was access to some relatively reasonably priced groceries at Maxwell's which meant we could replenish our supply of eggs, milk, cheese and meat. If we had been able to spend more time anchored in more remote areas of the Bahamas, we probably would have spent less on groceries and made do with the provisions we had on board.

PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $4.28

This is the category where we include household things (like paper towels and ziploc bags) and personal hygiene items (like soap and shampoo). We also capture items for the "home" here - like bug spray.

The $4.28 we did spend was on some last minute paper towels and toilet paper before we left Florida. They're insanely expensive in the Bahamas, so you're better off stocking up before you leave the States.

ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $29.00

In terms of drinks and eating out, this includes everything we don't prepare ourselves, even if we get something to go and eat it back on the boat. We also track how much we spend on books, magazines, DVD rentals and going to the movies in this category, as well as the occasional lottery ticket.

Of the $29 we spent during March and April, $13 of that was on take-away food before we left Indiantown. Once we left Indiantown, we didn't eat out or do take-away for over two months. The last time we cruised in the Bahamas, we ate out a few times, but to be honest, we weren't blown away by the food or the cost of eating out, so we chose to do all of our own cooking on board this time.

COMMUNICATIONS | Total = $174.00

Our cell phone is actually one of our biggest non-boat related expenses. We have a $60 monthly GoPhone plan with AT&T which includes 8GB of data and unlimited calls and texts. We continued with that plan while we were out cruising so that we can keep our US cell phone number.

When we got to the Bahamas, we bought a BTC SIM card ($15) and a 30-day data plan ($35). The data plan we bought was billed as "Limitless" which the woman at BTC assured us had no data cap, nor would it choke down our speed after we used a certain amount of data. Turns out that was rather misleading. Once you use 15GB of data, they shut you down without warning. Fortunately, we didn't use up our data allowance, but I know other people who did. To be fair, the cost per GB is actually pretty good compared to our AT&T plan.

BOAT FUEL | Total = $157.72

We spent $143.72 on diesel for our inboard engine. We topped up our tank in Lake Worth ($2.73 per gallon) before we crossed to the Bahamas and then again at the Conch Inn Marina in Marsh Harbour ($4.05 per gallon). We also spent $14 on gas for our outboard motor at Abaco Dorado Boat Rentals in Marsh Harbour ($5 per gallon). The upside of buying fuel at Abaco Dorado Boat Rentals is that you get free water (we filled up a couple of jerry cans for free in addition to the 22 gallons we had bought previously).

LPG & BUTANE | Total = $101.43

We have a LPG (or propane) cooker on our boat. Not long after we left Indiantown Marina, our stove broke while we were cruising in Florida. Fortunately our oven still worked, so between that and our BBQ, we were able to get by cooking-wise until we got back to Indiantown Marina and picked up our butane camping stove. The camping stove works fine as a temporary solution until we're able to replace the cooker sometime this summer, but butane cartridges are pretty expensive, especially compared to LPG.

Here's how the expenditure broke down:

  • In the States, we spent $23 filling up both of our LPG tanks in Indiantown and $56 on 19 butane cartridges at Walmart.
  • In the Bahamas, we spent  $7 filling up our smaller LPG tank at the Corner Value in Marsh Harbour and $15 on 4 butane cartridges at Vernon's in Hope Town. (Random side note: I had had a dream about finding relatively inexpensive butane cartridges at a tiny store in the Bahamas. It was really strange to stumble across these cartridges at Vernon's.)

MARINA COSTS | Total = $46.64

Anchoring out is one of the things we love about cruising. Not only is it nice to relax on the boat in a quiet anchorage and fall asleep to the waves gently lapping against the side of your boat, it's also free. We like free! Of course, anchoring out isn't always all that it's cracked up to be - we've been in our share of roly-poly anchorages and not been able to sleep at night wondering if we're going to drag anchor, but it's still free!

While our goal was to anchor every night, we ended up having to come back to Indiantown Marina for a couple of days (you can read about it here). The first night we stayed there was free as they couldn't lift our boat out due to the weather. The second night cost us $36.04 ($1 a foot without electricity). We also got our holding tank pumped out twice - once before we headed off the first time and once when we returned.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $809.24

This category is for all the stuff we've been buying for the boat, as well as repairs and maintenance costs. The bulk of our spending was on a new solar panel and connectors ($163), a new MPPT solar controller ($100) and a new zinc ($100). We also hauled Tickety Boo out to check out her bottom while we were back at Indiantown Marina. Fortunately, everything was fine and we splashed again right away, but the process costs us $252.

We also spent $4 on 22 gallons of water in Marsh Harbour at Abaco Dorado Boat Rentals. They sell city water for 18 cents a gallon. You can buy RO (reverse osmosis water) at the marinas for around 40-50 cents a gallon. Of course, we went the cheap route and chose the city water over the RO water. This was perhaps a mistake. While it was fine in our tanks (which we only use for washing up, we store our drinking water in jerry cans), it tasted kind of funny. It wasn't horrible, it just wasn't great. 

TRANSPORT | Total = $84.61

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to keep it going and drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands. We put $42.21 worth of gas into it before we headed off. We also pay $21.20 a month to store our vehicle at Indiantown Marina while we're off cruising.


This category includes medical expenses outside of our monthly insurance premium (which aren't included here - see section on exclusions above), like over the counter medications, prescriptions and things for our medical kit. It also includes the costs of doctors visits and medical tests which aren't covered by our insurance.

Although there were a few cuts and bruises while we were cruising, neither of us needed medical attention. Well, come to think about it, Scott did have a cut that probably could have used stitches, but that's a story for another day.

OTHER | Total = $182.80

In this category, we break out how much we spend on clothes and travel expenses. We also include a catch-all miscellaneous group for stuff that doesn't fit neatly anywhere else - things like laundry ($2.50 for a wash at the Classic Coin Wash in Marsh Harbour).

The big expenditure during March and April was $150 to clear into the Bahamas. This covers our cruising permit and fishing license while we're in the Bahamas. We're lucky that our boat is under 35' long and that we only have to pay $150. Boats over 35' have to pay $300.

Do you track your monthly expenditure? What are your cost saving tips and tricks? What's the longest you've gone without eating out or getting take-away?

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  1. I think the max between take-outs has been about one month. The lure of having someone else shop, cook, and do the dishes is just too strong! I had no idea Marsh Habour had city water. Fancy!

    1. When we were back in Indiantown we fell off the wagon and more than a few takeouts. So much easier than cooking :-)

  2. I think it is amazing how frugally you all live. I really don't know if I could pull it off.
    I think retirement is going to be a 'problem' for me ;)
    - Lisa

    1. We have frugal months and then there's the months we spend a ton more. It probably all evens out in the end.

  3. That's cool that you can use US currency. I get take out waaaaaaaaaay too often. Sometimes we'll go grocery shopping and then get take out for dinner because I'm too tired from shopping to cook!

    1. When I was working full-time there was a lot more eating out and take out in our lives. Way easier than trying to cook after a long day.

  4. Less than five bucks on household stuff. That's amazing.

    1. That's only because we were well stocked up before we left.

  5. Love it! We'll have a small budget, so I'm glad to see such a low total for the 2 months.

  6. I've never done a precise budget accounting like this and that's nothing to brag about, but I think I would be horrified if I realized exactly how much I spend on food and kids' toys. Ignorance is bliss, right?

  7. I'm dying to know what you spent the other $16 on in the entertainment category. :-)

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

  8. I love your fuel cost, or lack thereof. When we fuel we spend $500.00 plus each time. That's what happens when you have twin engines. Bugger.

    We have a budget and we follow our budget. It's always good to know where you money is going. Many folks really don't know.

    Eating out is very expensive and we don't eat out very often. We can cook great meals right here on our boat. Just as good as at home.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. Saving on diesel is one huge advantage of a sailboat, that's for sure.

  9. I'm super impressed by your cost sheet and how well you've managed the money end of sailing. My hubs is a fan of a computerized budget ... that's on his machine, which I don't check enough. So... I really should start keeping better track.

    1. Some people enjoy doing it, like me and it sounds like your hubby too. It isn't for everyone.

  10. I thought cruising would be more expensive, you know, with the whole "a boat is a hole in the water you throw money into" saying. I think you do great on your budgeting. It's good to hear you have insurance, too. Have a lovely weekend!

    1. Trust me, we'll be throwing a lot of money into the water this summer as we work through our project list :-(

  11. I wish I was as dedicated to writing down expenses, and budgeting as you are. I'm sure it makes life easier in the long run. I'll keep trying, thanks for the inspiration.

    1. I enjoy it so it doesn't feel like a chore which helps a lot.

  12. The only category that seems relatively high is the propane/butane one. Our highest category was usually boat expenses as well. We pretty much always anchored out. And, we were fortunate in the Bahamas as well with our 35' length. Cruising permits add up when you are longer, which most cruising boats are. Yes, we keep track of our expenses, and we rarely eat out for the same reasons you mention. It's expensive, often not of great quality and when you cook yourself, you know what you get. Quite important when you are on a healthy diet. :-)

    1. Using a butane camping cooker is really making that category sky rocket. If we were just using propane it would be a lot less.

  13. Glad to see these numbers for two months .. pretty good!

    1. That's only because the months before it were pretty bad :-)


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