Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cost to Cruise – February 2012, and a bit of a summary.

Here are our costs for February.  This was a month of transition for us as we left Friday Harbor and resumed the ‘wandering’ ways.  Well, almost.  February expenses were dominated by three key themes:

  1. Get ready to leave Friday Harbor – provisioning, taking care of any bills we had, and getting in those ‘Last Chance’ Coffee House visits and boat maintenance tasks done.
  2. Filling up the Fuel tanks after a long winter of heating (more about that in a bit)
  3. Being successfully bribed by a February $20/night special at Bell Harbor in Seattle.  (Again, more about that in a bit)

Look to prior postings for details on the rest of the '8-month average'

Kristi and I really enjoyed Friday Harbor.  It is a great combination of Small Town with just enough size to have most of what is needed.  All within walking range!  But just as much as that were the People.  From the 1st day we felt so welcomed and invited.  The staff at the Port, members of Friday Harbor Power Squadron and Yacht Club, Saint David’s Church.  Coffee shops (Anne!), and the local shops.  All had a kind of relaxed – recharging feel about them as they recovered from the Summers craziness.  And though people were concerned about us being ‘On the Break Water’ we really enjoyed our spot as it allowed us to keep tabs on the coming and going of the ferry fleet, as well as unobstructed views of the Sun Rises.

Yes, we enjoyed Friday Harbor and intend to return there next Winter.

Fueling. We had topped off our tanks in mid October before heading to Friday Harbor.  Then again in early February just after leaving.  And it was a big one.  320 gallons!  I did some figuring (will save everyone the details) and came up with 230 gallons consumed by our beloved Dickinson heater…  Or, about 2.2 gallons / heating day.   We had the stove turned down about as low as it could go (before it starts to act up – ala: excess soot) and I had hoped for a figure more along the 1.3 Gal/day  low-burn spec.   Oh Well, to be honest we would not have been able to ‘survive’ on the boat over the Winter using only a 30A shore power cord; the Dickinson is So Warm and So Dry and SO NICE.  It is a price of entry I guess.  Over the summer I will be playing with other ideas to try and cut down the winter-over costs – as one of the biggest issues with the Dickinson is it likes to run 7/24, day in and day out.  No turning it off at night and restarting in the morning.  But at close to  $10/day we may have to reassess that!

February also had a surprise for us in that Bell Harbor right in downtown Seattle offered a $20/night special.  So Kristi and I motored on down and spent 10 nights total there.  Hence the ‘high’ Moorage Costs, Dining Out Costs, Personal Costs.  But we did enjoy our time – and to be honest would not have done it without this special.

The Big Question - Looking Back.

We have 8 months of ‘data’ now with a mix of Wintering, Traveling, and Bumming Around the Islands.  This month I added a % of spending column to see where our money is going.  And Wow 28% of our expenditures were for Medical.  This again continues to be such a large number I am shocked (though not amazed).  True, it will decline as we amortize over the coming months (we loaded up on Doctor visits over the Winter in Friday Harbor), but still.  It is 2x the next highest bucket – Groceries.  Some might say ‘Well, you need better insurance’.  Perhaps, but a Full Ride insurance policy (like we had when working) would cost $1,400-$1,700/ month for the two of us.  Well over what we are paying now.  There is some truth we could have saved a bit by either shopping around better (gone off-island), or just not going.  Here our limited transportation options, and perhaps just good common sense won out.   I will still point out:  Almost 1/3 of our expenditures are for Health and Insurance.  Welcome to America….

If we add up the Boat Costs (maintenance, fuel, Moorage) we come to 30% - perhaps this is in line with what one can expect on shore?    1/3 of our ‘costs’ for Housing?  Will be interesting to see how this trends over time – After all a 50 year old Wood Boat, POWER boat, is supposed to be cost prohibitive, right?  (Will be watching this closely as my experience over the past 10+ years does not hold that a Wood Boat costs SOOO much more to operate then a glass one, and to be honest we would not be in this life style if we had a boat that cost us 3-4x what we have into Viking Star)

However, we are still a ways from our $2,000 -  $3,000/mo goal.  Likely over the summer we will get closer with lower moorage and heating costs – plus staying away from Towns!  Even so this Morning Kristi and I talked about what we could do to get even closer to our idea.  Here seems the potential list:

  1. Cut out all Alcohol – No Wine, no Brown Stuff, no Lime Vodka’s at Sunset
  2. Cut out outside meals:  No Lunches, no Coffee Shops
  3. Cut back personal:  No Books, No Hair Cuts, even less clothes (PURCHASES, not wearing)

That could  save around $600 / month and put us on the $3,000/mo goal.  There is perhaps another option that MOST cruisers take:  Go South.  We would dramatically cut our Fuel (heating) bill, and also dramatically cut our medical costs.  In fact, just moving South would likely get us well under the $2,000/mo point – easily.  Perhaps down the road we will do this.  Until then we are enjoying our time here, and looking forward to exploring more north over the coming years.  And unless we have to, we likely will not enable 1, 2, or 3 above.  After all – we are supposed to be Enjoying Life!

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