How much does circumnavigation cost? We asked ourselves the same question in the beginning. Now we see ourselves contacted with this question by other people who also plan such a voyage. There is little up-to-date information about the cost of a circumnavigating, because it is very individual and people don’t like to talk about money. We have listed our costs from the last 10 months in detail and broken down by month and category. We are a family with two small kids on the barefoot route and our standard of living is a good average of all the families we met on the way. Our table covers the costs from the start in France until and including the Panama Canal.
Provisioning on a circumnavigation
On our trip, we made three major provisionings, namely in France, the Canary Islands and Panama. There we bought heavy and long-life food. Either we have the stuff delivered to the dock or taken a taxi. Otherwise we only bought fresh things like fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat and of course just what was missing. In small harbours or at anchor, it can be tedious to get food and transport it. The small shops nearby are mostly overpriced. Shopping with the wagon was convenient, especially the kids had fun. Portugal and Spain was cheap, especially fruits and vegetables. By the way, the “Mercado Abastos” in Panama was great. The Caribbean, however, was quite different. Many products are imported from the mainland and therefore expensive. We always tried to buy local products which were usually at a good price.
Boat maintenance costs on a circumnavigation
Most of the money in this category was spent on the installation (screws, aluminum profiles, cables, etc …) of the additional equipment and spare parts, as our Bajka was not yet quite ready for blue water. In June we installed the already purchased solar panels, wind generator, watermaker and wind pilot. On the way there was new equipment like: davits (500 €), mobile solar panel (400 €), lock and chain for dinghy (200 €), diesel filter (100 €), jerry cans for diesel and for water (100 €), inverter ( 150 €) and flags (200 €). Typical maintenance costs were antifouling (800 €), hauling out (600 €), engine oil (300 €), Liferaft service (500 €) and sailing books and guides (300 €). The list is still long. So far we didn’t have any major repairs, only halyards for main and staysail, which was around 300€ each. Our recommendation is to buy as much as possible in Europe before you leave, preferably at the place where you prepare your boat. There you have enough time to wait for deliveries and sometimes you’ll get discount at the local ship chandler. Once underway everything is expensive and difficult to get in time. We often heard that people were waiting for weeks for some parts to be delivered.
Marina and mooring fees on a circumnavigation
In Europe (West Coast France, Spain, Portugal) we were almost always in the Marinas. The kids can play on the dock and it’s easier to go for a walk, move around or play football. In the Caribbean, we spent most nights at anchor. There you can jump out of the boat into the water and swim. So the kids were tired enough in the evening too. Only if we wanted to clean the boat more thoroughly, we went to one of the few marinas. There are some places where you are not allowed to anchor and you have to take a mooring (for example Bonaire). But then there are places where you are allowed to anchor, theoretically, but the locals expect you to rent a mooring at 20$ or so. The marina prices were very different and went from 10 € (in Portugal) to 150 $ (Panama City). Of course you can save money if you rarely go to the marina. We wanted to make life easy on this point, especially with the kids.
Circumnavigating and eating out
We have always tried the local dishes in each country. So we also learned to prepare the local vegetables, fruits and fish ourselves. When we were on the road for a whole day, we sometimes ate in the restaurant. Mostly these were simple and cheap meals around 50 € for the whole family. In the last 10 months we have spent nearly 2000 € in restaurants. We met other sailors who often eat out and have higher costs in this category.
Exploring the world
Since we can’t use our Bajka ashore, we often had to take the bus or taxi or even rent a car. Sometimes we were hitch hiking. Meanwhile, our boys know how to get the cars stopped ☺. When exploring the world you also go to a museum, a park or a cave. Together with transport costs we spend 1000€ for it.
This category comprises clothes, shoes, electronic devices and many other small things. The most expensive was a tablet and an iPhone. These devices don’t like saltwater too much. 🙂
Detailed costs of a circumnavigation
Our monthly costs for the whole family were about 3000€. This is still below the amount you would pay for two kids in a daycare in Switzerland. We met other families who spent less money than we, but also families who spent more. It depends on the living standard and the place you are.
Insurance for boat and health are not included in the table because they are very individual.
We will spend the next ten months in the Pacific and then we can make the second part of the costs of a circumnavigation. People say that costs are lower. Let’s see…