04 March 2019

Cost Of Living Aboard A Broken Boat | January & February 2019

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.

While we had hoped to be in the Bahamas by now for the season, we're currently at Indiantown Marina in south Florida on the hard in the workyard due to a crack in our hull. We hauled out mid-December, discovered the issue, and then spent the next couple of months going through the insurance process, finally coming to a resolution at the end of February.

While we were sorting everything out with insurance, we basically put everything else on hold, so this cost report is going to be a bit dull as there was very little spending on anything besides workyard fees and food.

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.

Living Aboard Costs | January & February 2019

Overall, we spent >>$3,539<< during January and February.

When you look at the nitty-gritty details of what we spent below, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1 - All costs are in US dollars.

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, whether you get subsidies etc. In case you are curious, while we're back in the States, we do have a high deductible/high out-of-pocket expenses insurance through the health insurance marketplace (aka the Affordable Care Act), primarily to protect our assets and cover us in case of a catastrophic medical condition.
(c) I haven't included any expenses related to my writing projects (e.g., editor, book cover design, publishing expenses, author website).

3 - I've included any shipping and taxes we've paid in what we report - Florida has a 6% sales tax.

All right, now that we've got that out of the way, let's dive into the numbers.

GROCERIES | Total = $651

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.

Although we don't budget (you can read more about that here), I'm happiest when we keep our monthly grocery spend per person under $200.


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.

ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $205

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.

When I looked back at our numbers, I noticed that we only spent $34 eating out during January, but a whopping $143 during February. We got really lazy last month and hit the "easy button" a few too many times, opting for fast food when we should have cooked something healthier and cheaper back on the boat. Let's see if we can do better in this department over the next couple of months.


Our cell phone is actually one of our biggest non-boat related expenses. We have a monthly prepaid plan with AT&T which includes 8GB of data and unlimited calls and texts.

BOAT FUEL | Total = Nil

Tickety Boo has been sitting in the workyard so we haven't needed to get any diesel or gas.

PROPANE  | Total = $6

We have a propane/LPG cooker on our boat, which we need to replace as the stove no longer works and replacement parts aren't available. While we're at Indiantown Marina, we use an electric hotplate and a crockpot for cooking, so we haven't had to spend any money on filling our propane tanks.

However, we did buy two 1-gallon propane tanks for use with a BBQ grill. Not for our boat mind you, but for a friend's boat which Scott is helping bring down to the Bahamas.

MARINA COSTS | Total = $1,810

The workyard isn't cheap -- $30 a day which includes water an electric. If you pay for a month in advance, you get a small discount.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $312

This category is for all the stuff we buy for the boat, as well as  repair and maintenance costs. Since we've put boat projects on hold for now, the expenditure in this category has been on necessary things only, like freon to get our fridge back in working order, plus a boat insurance payment.

TRANSPORT | Total = $66

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands. We filled up the tank once and had the local garage fix a squeaky belt.


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.

A medical issue arose in February for me which has resulted in some co-pays for doctor's appointments and tests.

OTHER | Total = $99

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, Amazon Prime, presents, computer parts, postage etc.

Over the past couple of months, I bought some reef shoes on sale at West Marine, new earbuds for both of us, food for the adorable marina cats, a sieve (essential for making butter chicken curry), and an impulse buy of Star Wars stickers.

Any money saving tips to share? What do you spend the most on each month? Are there any areas you're trying to cut back on?

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  1. Groceries is a big expense and I think it varies a lot even within one place. When I lived in Oakland, people complained about the cost of living but I found fresh groceries really cheap in Chinatown. In Tucson, I go to the 99cent only store first because they have fresh fruit/veggies cheap and then what I can't get I got to the regular store -- although sometimes the regular grocery store has better prices on sale. In San Jose, I found the 99 cent only store which helped a lot when I was staying there. It does amaze me how much the same thing like garlic can vary from store to store. I can eat pretty cheap once I know a place (initially my food prices are higher until I find discount but fresh places) but my biggest costs is actually cats -- their food and litter. I haven't really found bargains on their stuff no matter how long I stay someplace. I don't know how it is in Florida.

  2. Sorry the insurance put everything on hold, but looks like that did keep expenses down the past two months.

  3. I hope you can get back in the water soon. Being on the hard isn't fun. Not one bit.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Ellen. ♥

  4. Glad the insurance is now sorted - hope you can get the repair done quickly and set sail again.

  5. When it comes to cutting costs of eating out, don't tell me, tell my husband. He's the one that wants to go out a lot.

    It helps to have one or two recipes up your sleeve that are simple and that you keep the ingredients available at all times to combat the "it's easier to hit the fast food place" idea. In a pinch, i can put a vegetarian spaghetti dinner with salad and garlic bread on the table faster than someone can figure out what everyone wants at the fast food place, go there, get it, and get back.

  6. Glad the insurance is finally smoothed out, and I hope you can hit the water again soon.

  7. I should do this, though I fear I already know where the money goes. To my kids!

  8. Interesting break-down of expensese! For years we’ve been tracking food costs (a lot more than yours, especially right now when we are feeing a son and an extra with a huge appetite), but we haven’t tracked other expenses much. My husband is, I think, keeping a pretty good record of our travel costs, which might be interesting to compare to the boat costs!

  9. I can't blame you for eating out. You know my opinion about living like you've been forced. Room service, please. :) Stay safe climbing up and down.

  10. That’s pretty good, Ellen! Especially now that you have two people aboard again. The monthly fee for the boat yard sounds comparable to the marina slip, or aim I wrong? I guess it’s a bit more, at $900 a month. But, it sure is less fun to be on the hard. I remember those days in the yard, where money just keeps adding up, while work wasn’t happening fast enough.

    I hope the projects are going well and you can splash soon! I also hope that your medical issue was nothing serious! All the best.

  11. I'm trying to cut back on unnecessary spending, as it's becoming my entertainment. It's so easy to, when working on the new book, drift over to an online shopping site and spend far too much time coveting.

    At least living on a boat forces you to be minimalist. That's a good thing.


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