Another question that we are asked frequently concerns the voyage's expense budget and money-management matters.
BEFORE LEAVING: besides the costs incurred to equip the
boat (see details in the "Budget" page) we also had a
lot of expenses: the Rally fee amounted at 15.000 Euros (10.000 GBP at the 2007
exchange rate), and we also had the cost of some trips to England for
preparatory meetings and training courses (SSB and First-Aid) for a total cost
of about 15.000 Euros. Also the trips to Brittany to prepare the boat for the
voyage amounted to a significant expenditure, at least 10.000 Euros.
A CLASSIC MISTAKE: it's very easy to underestimate the boat preparation expenditure and then leave with too-little spare money, which would not be enough in case of a major problem: NEVER LEAVE WITH NOT ENOUGH SPARE MONEY, especially if the boat is aging. The lack of funds is the first cause of aborted voyages!
DURING THE VOYAGE: alas, the detailed data that we started collecting from the start have been lost together with the computers where it was stored when we capsized and the boat was flooded, and afterwards I lacked the time and the will to resume the data collection; anyway, we can approximate a few figures:
- provisions: basic food items (bread, fruit and vegs, fresh food, fish and poultry) are generally available at prices much lower than in Europe, and also more sophisticated items (pasta, preserved food, meat, canned food) although slightly less easy to find, are normally not outrageously expensive; concerning beverages, local beers are available almost everywhere and are normally moderately priced, while wine and spirits and, oddily enough, sparkling mineral water (or soda water which is the nearest replacement) are much more expensive and often hard to find. In the average, we did not spend in food more than what we would have spent at home.
- eating-out: this has been our most under-estimated
expenditure!! Left to our own devices, we would have just allowed ourselves a
meal out every now and then, but being in a group a dinner ashore was the top
opportunity to socialize, and despite prices were generally lower than in Europe
(except for wine, that is...) we ended-up spending more than 10.000 Euros!
- Fuel: our total diesel-oil consumption amounted at 6.000 liters for an expenditure in the range of 6.000 Euros (diesel price was in most cases slightly lower than in Europe), plus 2.000 Euros of engine oil and filters, that we religiously replaced every 200 hours as recommended by the engine manufacturer (also because diesel was often rather dirty and filters had a tough life!).
- Port and canal fees: marinas are scarce around the world and when they exist they tend to be expensive, even though not as much as in the Mediterranean! We spent in the range of 3.000 Euros, not including Panama- and Suez-canal fees which were included in the Rally price.
- Maintenance: without the capsize, our maintenance
costs would have been limited to about 1.000 Euros for repeatedly replacing the
fridge's control box, plus about 2.000 Euros for an antifouling job done in
Fiji. Just for accuracy, we may add few hundred Euros for the use of few of the
spare parts we were carrying (mostly water pumps).
- Insurance: we had a full-coverage policy which,
albeit expensive, is a must in a voyage where the risk of serious damage (or
even of losing the boat) is not negligible. Not too easy to find a Company
willing to provide world-wide coverage, we were insured by Pantaenius like
several other Rally boats, and we know for a fact that they have paid with no
fuss some serious accidents (including a total loss during the previous Rally).
- Communication: 800 Euros per year for the Iridium subscription (including 500 minutes of pre-paid conversation) plus 250 dollars for the Sailmail subscription, on top of which we spent in average between 100 and 200 Euros per month in phone calls: absolutely essential to buy local SIM-cards (or the full GSM phone) in each country: they usually sell for few dollars, and the price of calls to Europe is a fraction of that of European operators. We could also use GSM phones to call each other, which is very convenient, and GSM coverage was available almost everywhere, even in very poor and desolate areas.
- Sight-seeing: one travels to see places, and this unavoidably leads to additional expenses: car rentals, trips or flights to remote places, hotel stays, entry fees, and so on: hard to define a figure, we spent about 15.000 Euros but we know other crews that spent much more.
TOTAL EXPENDITURE (food not included): about 100.000 EUROS
Very often transactions have to be in cash: only hotels and large supermarkets routinely accept credit cards (Visa and Mastercard only, Amex is much less widely accepted).
Luckily, ATMs have become ubiquitous and we never had to go to
a bank to get cash, but be careful with the Credit Card's fees! In our case, the
italian cash-only cards connected with the Cirrus international circuit were far
cheaper than others and widely accepted by ATMs all around the world.
Well then, sailing around the world is something that only rich people can afford?
That would certainly be the first impression after seeing the figures we published! ....and in the Rally we were among those with the lowest budget!
Is it possible to spend less, without having to become a sort of "sea gypsies"? Certainly yes!!
A first example comes from "Cayuco", one of the Rally boats; a
very old boat, but very sturdy and maintained in a "do-it-yourself" style that
did nothing to improve the boat's appeal compared to the other Rally boats but
still managed to complete the circumnavigation on schedule.
Hats off to both of them, many would have given up at the first difficulties! It must be said, though, that - as they freely admitted - they took risks, and they could not fully enjoy their voyage, not only due to the limited budget, but also due to the time spent to continuously fix the boat!
I believe it was a mistake on their part to embark in a two-year circumnavigation: in a more relaxed timescale, they would have enjoyed the voyage much more. And so, here is the first of the possible SOLUTIONS TO CUT COSTS:
- TRAVEL SLOWLY: as already said before, a fast voyage
requires a large (i.e. fast) boat, new or well-maintained (to avoid wasting time
for repairs), often running under engine to keep the schedule (fuel consumption
and engine wear) and, once in harbour, spending whatever needed to visit the
place in the short time available. Joining a Rally is a further means to enhance
the chances of a successful voyage, but is also a significant expenditure not
needed when travelling slowly.
- LESS EXPENSIVE BOAT: we chose an aluminium-hulled
boat for its strength, and equipped it with all the gear we felt was useful to
maximise comfort and minimize risks in a short-crewed navigation; choosing a
good second-hand GRP boat (maybe an Hallberg-Rassy, but a Jeanneau would do as
well) one may save a lot; let's say that between 150 and 200.000 Euros would be enough to
get a perfectly adequate 35/40-footer.
- SMALLER BOAT: sure, especially for a small crew and
sailing at a leisurely pace, any boat between 9 and 11 meters (30-35 feet) would
be suitable, although I would recommend against: in my opinion comfort at sea
and, more importantly, storage capacity are inadequate.
To confirm the above point, several Rally crews bought a large boat specifically for the circumnavigation, and sold it as soon as back in Europe.
- SELL THE HOUSE: well, I would never sell the house in
order to raise the money to buy the boat! After few years, the boat will have
depreciated (unlike houses!) and the money would have disappeared into thin air.
- WORK WHILE TRAVELLING: not everybody could easily
find a temporary job in the visited Countries: it's certainly easier for a
diesel engineer or a nurse than for a lawyer!...
An entirely different story for those lucky ones whose job can be performed anywhere (e.g. painters, or writers) or whose job allows for long interruptions (seasonal shop- or hotel-owners?).
Managing a business remotely is usually very hard, as those
Rally skippers who tried it can testify: their boats sailed around the world,
but they didn't, as they were continuously flying back home to fix things at
Last Update: 11/11/2014
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