How much does it cost to live on a sailboat?


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Have you ever dreamed of getting away from dry land and seeking a life full of open water adventures? Many people dream of living on a sailboat, but may be hesitant to make their dreams come true when faced with the price tag. GOBankingRates spoke to several people who embrace a sailing lifestyle and the distribution of the costs of living on a sailboat.

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Two people on a full-time sailboat: $4,000 per month

For four years, Ryan Ellison and Sophie Darsy have lived full time aboard their 40ft boat. The duo form Ryan and Sophie Sailing and are hosts to a popular sailing YouTube channel where they have shared their lifestyle with over 7 million people.

Together they have crossed the Atlantic Ocean three times and are currently planning a North American loop. They also sailed extensively in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, covering nearly 25,000 nautical miles in total.

The couple live on $4,000 a month. They jokingly said that BOAT stands for “burst another thousand”.

Indeed, things often break down on boats due to the salty and corrosive environment. Ellison and Darsy said boat maintenance typically costs about 10% of the boat’s value each year. The sails, which can travel for free thanks to the force of the wind, must be replaced every eight to ten years.

“We have an engine that we use when the wind is non-existent or when we arrive or leave an anchorage or a marina. Because it’s usually only for short periods of time, we can make a $500 tank of fuel last several months,” Ellison and Darsy said. “However, the engine requires maintenance, oil and filters which all need to be changed regularly. Then there’s the cost of fuel for the canoe’s outboard motor, which is basically your car when traveling by boat, which is probably an extra $30 per fortnight.

What about insurance? Ellison and Darsy said insurance varies depending on the age and value of your boat, the experience you have as a skipper and the region of the world you are sailing in. They use the example that if you allow around $1,000 per year for a smaller yacht and up to $5,000 to $8,000 for a boat worth around $400,000 to $600,000, you should to be covered.

Early in their sailing adventure, Ellison and Darsy invested in gear to make them self-sufficient. They also bought a good canoe to take them ashore. This allows the couple to spend most of their time at anchor and avoid marina fees, which depend on location and season.

“Anchoring is free, and honestly, life on the anchor is a lot more fun for us!” Ellison and Darsy said.

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Family of four on a full-time sailboat: approximately $1,300 per month

Sara Rice, her husband and their two teenagers form the Sailing Catalpa family. For five years, they have been living and criss-crossing Southeast Asia aboard a 44-foot monohull. The family lives on 2,000 Australian dollars per month, which currently works out to around 1,259 dollars per month.

Rice said they primarily anchor, so they have no fees. “It’s very rare to pay to anchor in Indonesia, Malaysia or Thailand and we never go to marinas.”

Their overall breakdown of expenses is quite minimal. Food for the family costs around AU$1,000 per month. Internet costs AUD$100 per month and fuel costs AUD$500 per month. There is an annual transport of AUD$2,500 in Malaysia and AUD$500 per month for miscellaneous expenses, including broken parts. Although there are months when nothing breaks, Rice said months when there are broken pieces can be more expensive.

“Living and browsing remotely is cheap, but mostly because you have to fix everything yourself,” Rice said.

One person on a full-time sailboat: $1,000 per month

Brian Kearin grew up on a sailboat. Kearin, who is the founder of BoatEasy, currently owns a 38ft sailboat.

A major cost associated with living aboard is marina slip fees or mooring fees. Kearin said that would probably be the biggest regular expense for someone who wants to live on a sailboat.

“The cost of a boat slip varies by location, but somewhere between $20 and $30 per foot of boat length per month is average for many marinas in the United States,” Kearin said.

It’s cheaper to pay for mooring lines, which Kearin says can cost as little as $10 per foot. There are also areas where individuals on sailboats can anchor for free and use a dinghy to reach a public dock. Keep in mind that this comes with additional gas and maintenance costs.

Besides slip fees, Kearin said there are a few other costs associated with living aboard, especially if you’re traveling with your sailboat instead of using it as a houseboat. Regular bottom cleaning to remove marine growth, for example, will likely be needed once a month or every six weeks. It costs $2 to $3 per foot of boat length.

Those traveling from port to port should expect some costs associated with fuel for their boat’s engine and occasional maintenance of onboard rigging. It could be $200 a month, or closer to $0 if you stay at anchor or in a slip and sail nowhere. Kearin recommends budgeting $200 for canoe maintenance and fuel if you’re anchoring and using the canoe for commuting. If you’re not slipped into a marina and choose to drop anchor, Kearin said you’ll incur costs associated with filling water and pumping out your boat’s tank, typically around $30 per month. .

“All in all, a budget of $1,000 per month should be reasonable assuming you’re not choosing a prime marina in a major metropolitan area,” Kearin said. “If you can do some of the service on board and submerge the hull to clean it yourself, you can reduce some of those costs as well.”

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This article originally appeared on How much does it cost to live on a sailboat?


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