The Costs of Cruising

August 2017

A friend of ours recently asked how much it costs to live on a boat, so I did some analysis based on six years of living on Alba.  My expenditure analysis is a little rough and ready, so there might be some Boat Maintenance in New Gear and, because we deal a lot with cash, some additional Boat Maintenance may be included in Daily Living Expenses. However, it gives a good idea of the cost of living on a boat.

Our annual spend averaged over six years is:

Boat Expenditure £23,270 49.3%
Daily Living Expenses £12,302 26.1%
Healthcare £3,194 6.8%
Holidays & UK Trips £6,321 13.4%
Grown Up Toys £1,605 3.4%
Financial Charges £499 1.1%


 The Boat Expenditure breaks down to:

Maintenance £11,684 24.8%
New Boat Gear £5,013 10.6%
Hull Insurance £2,396 5.1%
Marinas and Mooring £2,032 4.3%
Customs Fees £694 1.5%
Fuel £1,019 2.2%
Satellite Phone £433 0.9%


A more detailed PDF is available for download.



We own a Hallberg Rassy 42F, which is worth about £200,000 and we maintain it in very good condition. Hence 35% of our total expenditure is boat maintenance related.  It's interesting to note that Maintenance and New Boat Gear is £16,697 which is about 8.5% of the value of the boat.

We've had some major expenditure:

  • 2011    Bought the boat, so needed new gear.  Dive compressor, new oven, EPIRB, etc
  • 2012    Hauled out in the USA.  Replaced the Standing Rigging.  Had the generator removed and major service done.
  • 2014    Hauled out in the New Zealand.  Had the Hull stripped to the gel coat, applied a protective epoxy coat and anti-fouled. Lots of other jobs - propeller checked, engine turbo refurbished, new anchor, new radar and chart plotter, etc. 
  • 2015   Hauled out in Thailand.  Teak deck replaced.  Topsides painted.  Numerous other small jobs.

I'm sure that some cruisers wouldn't have done some of these jobs, which could have waited, but I like to know that the boat is in tip-top condition. 

We try not to spend any time in marinas, preferring to be at anchor, but in some places there's no choice and whenever we leave the boat (for example to fly to the UK), it goes into a marina.

Some cruisers don't pay for Hull Insurance, but at 1% of the value of the boat, we're prepared to pay it in case of total loss.

Our Daily Living Expenses amount to £1,000 per month.  This includes groceries, eating out, laundry, internet and cash withdrawals.  We don't think that we are particularly extravagant and rarely go out for a meal, but we eat good food and drink wine.  If you only eat local food (Yam and Rice) and drink the local rum, then no doubt this could be reduced.

Healthcare is a significant part of our expenditure and is made up of 40% Health Insurance; 23% Dental; 17% Eyecare; 20% Other Medical.  We've had a few crowns fitted along the way and Glenys used to wear contact lenses and has had cataract surgery on both eyes.  We initially started with comprehensive Private Health Care insurance, but they doubled the premium one year to £2,700, so we now have an Annual Travel Policy with the Divers Alert Network (DAN) which covers us for accident, emergency evacuation and repatriation.  That works out to about £700 per annum.

Holidays and UK Trips.  We try to fly back to the UK to see our families about once per year, so air fares and car hire are a major expense.  We've done some land travel holidays in various parts of the world - sometimes for a few days other times for three weeks.  (We don't travel first class, but we like to be comfortable...)

Grown-up Toys.  This is a catch-all for personal gear - diving gear, cameras, computers, etc.  We like our toys.

Financial Charges.  This covers bank interest and ATM charges.  We were stung for one year by our bank charging for every foreign transaction on our debit card.  When we realised what was happening, we looked at other credit cards and found a Halifax Credit Card that has no charges on foreign transactions.  We do get charged interest on any cash that we withdraw from an ATM, but we pay off the credit card every month, so it costs us about 1.5%.  Some cruisers load cash onto prepaid cards, but we can't be bothered.

Like you, I was surprised by the annual expenditure of £47,000, but it soon adds up.