Thursday, January 15, 2015

Going home

Today Kristi and I will be moving back to the boat - as the 'house sitting' gig is up.  It has been a little less than one year for me, and a little more than one year for Kristi when we 'moved away' from what had been our home for going on 5 years or more.  Looking back, July 1st 2009 is when I moved 'full time' aboard, with Kristi following a month later as she wrapped up her job.  And during that time it was the end of many many years of dreaming, working, preparing - all culminating in the day we went from Land Folks to Boat Folks - to full-time cruisers. And with that came the feelings of the time, feelings of leaving jobs, houses, families. Feelings of fear, excitement, wonder; of embarking on a dream, a 'Wish I could do that' adventure.  It in itself was a dream, or at least the realization of a dream.

They say one is made of one's experiences in life - and to some extent I am sure that is true. As Kristi and I look to go home again we have a new set of experiences to integrate into our souls.  The time with Maynard and Ellen, Minnesota, the people of SW Minnesota.  All are new and powerful experiences.

And as a result of our experiences - we are different people now.

We are returning to Viking Star with a totally different set of feelings, expectations, a different reality.  We are not realizing a dream, that has been realized.  We are not here to discover what is unknown about the lifestyle, we have discovered it.  We are not, and can not, re-enter this life in the same way as we did 6 years ago.

We can not view moving to a boat in the same way - we are different people now.

As Spring unfolds and we revisit the South Sound again, how will it be?  Will we find new meanings while sitting at anchor?  Will we desire to seek deeper into nature, or deeper into society?  Will we still seek out Burgers, Coffee, or become Tea people?  Will we fall back into the old patterns we had, or will we be able to find new meanings, new insights, new interpretations of experiences?

Whatever it is, I am sure it will be different - for we are different now.

So stay tuned as this new/old chapter of our lives unfolds.

(To see someone at the beginning of the experience, take a look at one couple we have been following for some time as they just pulled the plug - so to speak: )

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Back at it...

Kristi and I have been spending the past two weeks cleaning and refitting Viking Star.  Mostly it has gone well with few surprises.  A couple of drawers needed to be cleaned, items washed, and drawer scrubbed out with Vinegar.  Am having issues with corrosion / damaged seats on the hydronic heaters's couples, and the house battery was not very happy with being left alone for a year.  But we are slowly getting it done.

And we are getting back into the Coffee shop mode!  Visited 3 or 4 of our favorites, catching up on what has changed (not much), and good coffee.  Even made it out to Roche Harbor for a few of their cake doughnuts:

With all this we lucked out getting a house-sitting gig (which is code for:  taking care of our old pet while we are away) so have been able to do all this while not living on the boat at the same time.  Plus we get to 'borrow' someone's kitty :-)

Thursday we are back on the boat, figuring out where to stuff things we carried back from Minnesota, and start getting ready for a new year of cruising.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

"It's so much cheaper to live on a boat", or is it??

We have been collecting and publishing our living expenses for going on 4 years now (just follow the 'Costs' label to see them all).  And when Kristi and I took a year off to help out her folks, we continued our tracking - as a way to allow comparison between costs for us to live on land vs. on boat. Now that we have resumed the water-life, let's take a look at the two sets of numbers:

2014:  - A year on Land
Viking Star Cost to Not Cruise December 2014
(Click for larger view)

2013: - A year of Cruising
Viking Star, Cost to Cruise December 2013

At first blush they look somewhat alike:  $35K vs. $37K, with the life-afloat being slightly more costly.  But as is often the truth, the devil is in the details.  Before that, perhaps a review of the 'ground rules' we use is in order.  In short, we work to include all costs associated with the 'life style', but do reserve some items that are not really directly related, or perhaps a more of a personal choice.

We include all costs with the following exceptions:
  • Income and business taxes (Sales taxes are included as they are 'built into' the price of items)
  • Business-related travel (Airfare, auto rentals, etc)
    • Though I do report meals (Still got to eat)
    • We include costs for moorage of Viking Star during travel - Kristi often gets the place to her self :-)
    • We include 'personal' travel, example the trips Kristi took back to Minnesota, as well as my travel back to Viking Star last August.
  • Gifts given - such a personal choice.
  • Others - Always an others - and case-by-case.

A comment on the 'Others'.   It seems Others is just a way to account for poor-planning, or a way to hide details one would not wish to be known.  So far we have not excluded anything outside what is noted above, but in 2015 we will.   We are intending on doing a charter trip to the BVI, and will be handling its costs much like we have business travel:  include costs for Viking Star, meals, and such - but not airfare, boat rental, fees.  Cruisers often travel, but what value does a read gain when that travel can be $10,000 to France for a month vs. $500 to a friends beach cabin?  IT is a judgment call, and one we will make case-by case, as well as rarely.  (BTW, to further mix things up - our BVI airfare costs will be under $100, using up flyer miles..  So there!)

The Details:

In comparing the two years one must also keep in mind a major detail:
  1. We own Viking Star free and clear.  There is no boat-payment, but there is insurance and maintenance.
  2. While in Minnesota this past year we had NO housing costs.  No rent, insurance, nor maintenance.   We did however split groceries, and Kristi and I covered utilities the last few months (placed under the Misc category).
  3. Likewise we had no car expenses (though we did pay for Gas when we took long trips)
These details can make a bit of a difference.  Even if we owned our own home there would be taxes, maintenance, and insurance, as well as utilities.  Depending on where one lives perhaps $5-6K or more depending on needed maintenance.  Add on mortgage payments and we are easily in the $15-20K range, maybe more.  Even renting would be in the $10-15K range or more (again, depending on where one lives).  Toss in another $1,000 operating costs for an auto (and auto payments if one does not own their car).   Utilities brings in another $4K or so for water, power, garbage, internet, etc.  But as we would be boat-less take out the maintenance and moorage (about $5K) and that leaves us with at least an additional $10-25K, or even more on top of the 'land spending'.

Even using the bottom $10K of this range, our land costs are now adjusted from $35K/year to $45K/year.   Vs. the $37K for the boat life.

It is fun to look at 'data', but that is often not information.  Kristi and I talked a bit about the differences, and here are some of our thoughts:
  • Groceries is interesting - it appears to be half the cost on land vs. water, some factors to consider:
    • While on a Boat we can not drive to Winco or other discount stores - food costs us more.  Maybe 30% more.
    • We tended to have a (eahm) larger Booze Budget on the boat than on land.  Sundowners vs. the mostly 'dry' prairies.
  • Dining Out / Entertainment - also appears lower on land
    • Kind of the same as above.  Hard to get a burger for under $20 at waterside establishments.
    • Plus, we had little to no access to coffee shops on the prairies!
  • Personal - MUCH more costly on land than water
    • Access = opportunity = action.  
    • Kristi and I learned a long time ago to keep costs down, stay out of the cities while boating.
    • However on land there are lots of services (UPS, Fed-Ex, etc) who are more than happy to 'bring the city to you'.  (Yes, we could have stuff brought in via Beaver plane - but come on)
  • Medical and Insurance:  About the same.  We were after all still in the USA.
  • Transportation:  Kind of a wash - but remember the above re: automobile
  • Communication:
    • A bit unfair data shown on land as we did not pay for communications outside of our personal cell phone. 
    • What is a typical monthly bill for internet and TV these days?  $100?  $150?
  • Misc:
    • Here is where we tossed in items that we had not created a category for, example:  Utilities, purchasing a new appliances for the household, etc.  

So what is the bottom line?  I would say:  Overall all it is less expensive for Kristi and I to live on our boat.  Maybe by $10-15K a year, once making all the adjustments talked about above.   And remember, that is comparing things to costs in rural / farmland Minnesota; not the 'cities' (which are sure to be even higher)
Plus, we get to vacation 8+ months out of the year!

We do hope our efforts to collect and share this is helpful to some.  I know when we first started looking into this life, cost data was hard to come by.  And we looked to break that trend over the past years.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Cost to Not Cruise Dec 2014 - And a Transition. . . .

December 2014 has come and gone.  And for us it represents a transition month on oh-so-many fronts.  We transition from Care Givers to Memory Holders, from Minnesotans to Washingtonians,   from 'Farmers' to 'Boaters', from Dirt Dwellers to Nautical Nomads - from Not Cruisers back to Cruisers.  It was quite a year for us and everyone.  And one that Kristi and I would not trade for anything.  "The whole idea is freedom..." starts that quote, and we are so glad we HAD the freedom to chose the life we did this past year - hmm:  Maybe we were still 'cruisers' in 2014 after all?

So with December of 2014 comes the last of the 'Cost to Not Cruise' posts - going forward we will still track our costs under the flag of Cost to Cruise.  (and the background will change back to Ocean Blue from the Grass Green of the past year).  But before we get to that, here is December:

Viking Star Cost to Not Cruise December 2014
(Click for larger view)

First thing one might notice is WOW!  Almost $6,000 for the month, way to end the year with a Bang!   Well, bang it kind of was.  Three highlights in there that pumped up the sum:
  1. Our slow driving trip back 'home'.  Transportation (gas) and Misc (hotels) getting the bulk of that - but also some dining out.
  2. Kristi got some presents for Christmas:  Some Bling, and a new computer - into Personal.
  3. We did eat out a LOT while in Portland, it is the American Way to socialize. . .
And it all adds up.  One of the secrets for Kristi and I being able to enjoy this lifestyle so relatively early in our lives is being somewhat conservative in the way we do things.  (I know, there are many who would not see the conservation in our spending, but then there are also many who would call us paupers).  December 2014 was a 'pull out the stops' month.  One we will not repeat often I am sure. 

Soon will do a post comparing our lifestyle on land vs. on water.  To address that question:  it is really oh-so-cheap to live on a boat?


And now here is the standard explanation: If this is your 1st time looking at costs on our blog, and want some more background on why we are reporting what it costs to not-cruise on a cruising blog - well, we took a break by moving back to Minnesota to help out Kristi's folks January of 2014.  And we thought it would be interesting to be able to compare our costs on Land vs. on Sea., see more here:

For reference here is a summary of what it did cost us to cruise last year:

For Reference, Costs for Cruising in 2013
Again, following the link above will give you access to more details, or you can click on the Costs label to the right for even more cost data.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hello Old Friend!

Now let's get to work on that Happy New Year!!!