Updated on April 8, 2017
Cost to Cruise: March
So, before we begin with the money, let’s just say: we are currently at anchor in Portobelo, Panama, after a very good five-day passage from Jamaica. This morning, sitting in the cockpit, listening to howler monkeys, eating excellent local pastry and sipping Blue Mountain coffee we brought from Jamaica, I felt like there were no circumstances possible where I could be more happy. More about our passage, and Panama, later; for now:
Boilerplate Disclaimer: People’s constant advice, discussing cruising finances, always seems to be: It’ll cost what you have. We did not find this helpful in our planning, however true it may be. What we’re trying to show is the cost to us, more or less, for one month to go cruising. We’re going for monthly expenses, because they’re easier for us to track; so you won’t see the boat insurance amortized, you’ll just see that expense when we pay it. It won’t be what you’ll spend, but it was the kind of information that helped us out when we were trying to wrap our heads around that magical number for our cruising kitty.
Jamaica is expensive, man! We didn’t realize this at all when we arrived. Groceries are considerably more costly than in the US, even in the open-air fruit and vegetable markets. Despite the expenses, the nominal GDP per capita in Jamaica is around $6000, and unemployment is around 20%; I’m not really sure how the average Jamaican makes ends meet. It’s very easy to understand, though, how tourists equal cash, and why it’s so hard to walk down the street without being approached for services.
Our numbers for March:
Boat Parts: $374.59
Fuel: $119.92 diesel; $43.53 stove fuel
Services, including boat work: $450
Grand Total: $3794.26
Some notes on unusual expenditures:
- We spent a lot of time in Port Antonio and Montego Bay. In order to have access to a secure dinghy dock (and showers, pool, laundry and the finer things of life), we paid between $20 and $25 a day, even when we were anchored out. That adds up fast.
- Groceries are expensive. We’d run through almost all of our back stock from our massive Florida provision; and we were so excited to see real grocery stores filled with exciting luxuries like Pringles, we may have lost our heads a bit in this category. Totally worth it.
- “Services” is an amorphous category for us here—it includes some industrial boat cleaning (to get stubborn spots off our deck) and accounting work from our tax preparer. I realized this morning that I haven’t been including expenses associated with our house rental in Madison; they’re reported every month, and I just kind of ignore them in favor of the exciting rental income. Sorry for being so deceptive, everyone. My larger point is this: we love having “people”—accountants and property managers, professionally handling the financial aspects of our life. Tax prep, for us, ended up being a breeze; Tricia, you rock.
- Did you see that number for laundry? Isn’t that nuts? We’d been doing pretty much bucket laundry since Christmas, and everything was stinky. Laundry, like everything else in Jamaica, was not cheap.