This is a popular yet extremely difficult question to answer. It depends on many factors including the type of lifestyle you want to live (beer or champagne) and whether or not you are capable of doing boat repair work yourself. The numbers below are what we feel is a pretty good estimate for the way we sail on Delos.
Our average over the years has been about $500.00 US per person per month. Sometimes more and sometimes less depending on if were in a cheap place (like SE Asia) or an expensive place (Australia). This covers food costs, a few tasty beverages (we have a still onboard), general fees and travel expenses, fuel for Delos, and other odds and ends. This does not include boat and maintenance costs because those vary so much depending on the age and type of boat you have. But this should give you a ballpark idea of the people expenses. This assumes you buy local foods, provision in bulk when possible, and eat the vast majority of your meals onboard.
Our insurance has ranged from 1.5-2% of boat value per year, depending on where we are cruising. This is for liability, basic medical coverage for the crew, and hull, rig, and machinery coverage. Most remote locations often mean higher insurance, for example our insurance crossing the Indian Ocean was higher than in the Caribbean.
The costs for the repair and maintenance of boats can vary a lot depending on the size and complexity of the systems. For the past few years weve used the following rules and found it to be a pretty good baseline for Delos.
When I think about boat maintenance I like to break it down into two pieces. We set aside 1.5% of our boat value per year for general ongoing repairs and preventive maintenance. For example, if your sweet cruiser is worth about $100,000 US, then figure $1,500 per year for things like pumps, impellers, oil changes, sail repairs, and other routine items that may break along your voyage. Delos is a pretty complicated boat with lots of systems which means there are many things to service. We do 100% of the work ourselves, which means we are paying for parts and the odd expert opinion only. If you dont plan on doing the majority of your own work I think this number will grow by quite a bit.
The second part of boat maintenance to consider is the longer term items such as changing your standing rigging, replacing your dodger, new dinghy engine, new sails, haul out and bottom paint, etc. These things dont happen often, but when they do they are expensive. When we first started sailing this was another 1.5% of boat value per year, however now that Delos is a bit older and we’ve put some miles on her we’ve seen this in the 3% range the last few years. The more expensive the boat, generally the more complicated and therefore the more required to keep her ship-shape.
There are a lot of factors when considering the entire cost of cruising. If youre looking for an excellent book that covers this in detail I would suggest The Voyagers Handbook- Beth A. Leonard.It has some great information on cruising costs.
If youre looking for some blogs on the subject check these out: