The First 6 Months

Wow – I can’t believe it, but it’s been 6 months to the day since we left Waterford Harbor Marina to start our cruising life.  We have been having a blast and have not regretted the decision to quit our jobs and start cruising.  However, it has not all been as we expected, and although we are working on being relaxed retirees, we are still an engineer and an accountant, so we can’t escape our desire for facts and spreadsheets completely!  I thought I would put together a few facts, figures and observations about our first 6 months, which you may find interesting and potentially useful if you are thinking of taking off cruising in the not-too-distant future.

Where we have been

When we set out, we planned to anchor out as much as possible.  At the beginning of our trip, this didn’t work out quite as planned because the outboard for the dinghy wasn’t working, so we had to stay in marinas.  The outboard was eventually fixed while we were in Stuart, FL, and after that we were able to start anchoring much more.  This was great from a financial standpoint, of course, but more important, it gave us the freedom to stop where we wanted and enjoy the scenery and solitude.  When we have stayed in marinas since Stuart, it has been for specific reasons, such as my stay in Halifax, where I didn’t want to be at anchor alone, or Baltimore, to hide from Matthew, or New Bern, to carry out projects on Sol Purpose.  One thing we have learned is to study Active Captain, Cruising Guides, local websites etc. for free places to stay.  It’s amazing how many places there are, and whenever we have used them we have commented in our blog.

Here is the breakdown of how we spent the first 184 nights:

Overnight travel 26
At anchor 62
Free marina/moorings 14
Moorings 11
Marinas 71

When I sat down and read back through the logbook of the first 6 months, I could not believe how far and how many places we have been in such a short time – 5,161 miles, 2 countries, 14 states, 45 different anchorages/marinas.  Each state has something different to offer, and we have enjoyed the changing scenery as we traveled up and down the coast.  However, one thing has been the same wherever we have been and that is the welcome we have received, both from the boating community and the people in the  towns we have visited.   The link below shows the route of Sol Purpose since we left Kemah, TX.

Route so far

The Bottom Line

We really had no idea what we would be spending when we left, but we set up a tentative budget of $3,000 per month.  So far that has proved to be a gross underestimate!

First of all, we have had to make a lot more repairs to the boat than we had anticipated, but we are not too disheartened.  This is the first time that Sol Purpose has really been put through her paces, and it was inevitable that repairs would be needed.  We fully expect that moving forward, we should for the most part be looking at routine maintenance, rather than the major repairs we have had to make so far.  (Fingers crossed, anyway !).

Second, we really need to work on the eating out category!  Unfortunately, we both like to eat well and to hang out in the local bars – it’s a great way to meet people!  As you can see below, we need to curb that spending, but we are working on it.  As time goes on, I am getting better used to cooking in a small galley, and I’m now even baking bread etc!  I’m working on the numbers being much better when I prepare a report in 6 months’ time – who knows, maybe we could even lose a little weight if we eat out less!

The third expense which has been horrendous is the medical insurance.  We’re not sure what that will cost us next year – still checking out the options (see below).

I don’t really like to share details of my expenses, but in the hope that it will help others, here goes:

Category 5/12/16- 6/1/16- 7/1/16- 8/1/16- 9/1/16- 10/1/16- 11/1/16-
5/31/16 6/30/16 7/31/16 8/31/16 9/30/16 10/31/16 11/12/16
Fuel 527.96 317.19 154.65 193.81 381.50 48.91
Insure Boat 2,564.80
Registration 26.00
Other Boat 111.73 1,981.97 1.95 115.26 220.60 929.74 163.32
Dining 171.36 646.18 890.38 787.98 328.21 370.63 148.01
Ent. & leisure 270.51 930.64 812.30 395.57 249.09 650.64
Groceries 533.00 417.52 801.87 806.71 819.51 599.73 422.22
Household 101.78 83.31 256.87 90.12 97.36 560.47 92.00
Medical 1,057.18 701.33 713.51 721.33 691.77
Misc. 137.12 59.00 10.85
Travel to UK 288.09 74.52
Slip fees 709.30 448.90 310.00 746.24 510.00 607.95
Telephone 149.28 69.14 69.21 69.25 76.71 80.24 8.50
TOTAL 2,574.92 6,089.15 6,910.45 4,003.82 3,404.31 4,566.08 834.05

Useful information (I hope)

Healthcare:  we both worked  for the first quarter of the year, and so weren’t eligible for premium tax credits against the cost of health insurance.  That’s the way it is, so I wasn’t too bothered.  But when I discovered that I could not use my insurance anywhere outside Texas, I wasn’t best pleased.  My fault, as I should have studied the policy better before signing up.  However, I thought that things would improve in 2017, when we could buy a multi-state policy, and would be eligible for premium tax credits.  Now we run into one of the disadvantages of leaving when still of “working age” and being Texas residents – as we are living off savings, we have very little actual income, so fall below the income threshold to get credits.  Texas doesn’t give Medicaid to people of working age who have no children, so basically, we have to pay the full premium.  Added to that, the so-called Multi-state policies rarely cover you in more than one state (yes, please explain that to me!)  Ah well, at least we are exempt from the tax penalty if we don’t have coverage!  Now, no political discussion is being invited here – I’m just setting out the facts in case anyone is thinking of taking off and hasn’t thought about the healthcare implications.

Fuel:  we had romantic dreams of lazy days, with the sails set and just speeding along.  Yep – not so much!  Most days there has been not enough wind, too much wind, or just the right amount but blowing in the wrong direction!  On talking with other cruisers, we find that we were not alone in this discovery.  It’s not too bad, as we are rarely in a huge hurry to get anywhere, but please be aware, future cruisers, that you will need to factor in a larger budget for fuel than you probably were thinking.

Relationships:  I don’t care how close you think your relationship is, be aware that a sailboat is a very small space to live in!  The smallest, most trivial matter can get blown up out of all proportion when there is no way of walking away.  Take every opportunity to have some alone time or, even better, some “with someone other than each other” time!  I am not a big shopper, but I have been very fortunate to have cruising friends to have a “girls’ day out” with from time to time!  Remember why you chose to live this life, with this particular person, and you’ll realize just how lucky you are.

Well, on that note, I’ll sign off.  More baking to be done…..


8 thoughts on “The First 6 Months

  1. David Cochrun

    Morray and Debbie, Sounds like you are having a great time. Thanks you so much for your six month report! My daughter and her husband want to retire early – about ten years in the future. They have asked me about cruising costs and since Kathy and I had no real cruising experience on Indigo Moon I didn’t have much to offer. Your report is the real thing! Please keep them coming!
    Fair winds my friends!
    Dave Cochrun & Kathy Sparks (s/v Indigo Moon Pier 13/Slip 38 when we had our boat)

    1. solpurpose Post author

      I had hoped that a real world set of numbers would be of use to someone. We had found it hard to find that sort of information when we were investigating cruising.

  2. Joy Merritt

    You hit it right on the nose. We don’t have the insurance problems thanks to Tom for serving our country 23 years grants us TriCare.
    We are never in a hurry anywhere. We move when it’s too hot or too cold and the wind cooperates when Mother Nature allows.
    Girls day out is very important. Everyone needs time away from their spouse or main squeeze. I have met so many new friends and feel true kinship with the ones I met from Kemah, TX.
    We are so happy we were able to spend time with you two happy, fun and crazy people. Life is good.

  3. Philip Austin

    Moray & Debbie, thanks for sharing. This is the type of info Sharon & I have been looking for while trying to plan our cruising years. We are always looking forward to the next post.

  4. miles harper

    hey if you get bored we have lots of tax returns to work on! Hang in there and you will be across the pond in no time.

    1. solpurpose Post author

      It’s so tough to resist that offer, but resist I must. I have managed to get my CRI fix by walking past the offices in Belhaven and New Bern! Have a wonderful Christmas!


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