Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The secret we never tell

What you think about us? Drinking rum in the Caribbeans under the shade of the coconut tree everyday? Oh yes, I couldn't say no. But we are enjoying more with friends, scenery and moments than only enjoying drinking rum! Many of you still wonder and want to know how we survive during our third year of the sailing. After all it's not just a rum and the shade!

We are family of two adults, one toddler and a pet dog. That means that we consume much more water and food than a couple on a sailing boat. We have scheduled meals and mostly predictable activities on board based on our kid. We choose to visit islands where our dog can go and no issues for my Thai passport. We try to stop everywhere with free anchorages no marina or moorings if avoidable. These help us saving a couple of dollars. If the anchorage is a short dinghy ride, we try to paddle to save some gas. 

We could cruise economically with around 500 dollars a month in the Caribbean, of course excluding boat fixing and maintenance. We have fuel more than half a tank and we would refill more where it's cheaper. Even though we have water maker, we spend more on fresh water because the kid need double quantity than a adult. Plus, we do our own laundry including sheets and towels every two weeks. It's cheaper to buy water and wash on board than sending them to the laundry. The water costs varies from 2-8 dollars for 100 litters.

What about medical care? Our countries don't have social security to cover the medical care outside so everything is on our own. Luckily, we never have major sickness yet. We went to the hospital on French islands in the Caribbean a couple of times, we paid average at 50 euros each time for minor fever and diarrhea but the medicine is not included. In the American territories where the health insurance is necessary, we paid more than 200 dollars for a child vaccine which is free in the Dominican Republic and our countries. We fill up our first aid medicines for basic illness and regularly check the validity dates. Our French Bulldog pet dog doesn't require exercise, he hates heat and he trained to do his business on the boat. We rarely bring him on land, also because of avoiding having contact with local dogs or diseases. We may bring him occasionally to the beach when it's time for his shower. However, the titer test is important in some island and we always keep it up to date just in case. We did it in the American Virgin Islands and Grenada which cost almost the same price, about 200 dollars and take similar time. The deworming pill is our dog top list medicine and we always stock up, it cost vary from island to island. I wrote a post before about the process and the costs to import him to St. Lucia.

The boat maintenance is a pain in our budget. All boat need maintenance, it doesn't matter if it's new or old. We try as much as we can to fix everything by our own and sometimes we are lucky to know some knowledgeable resources from the cruisers we met. If the problem is big that we couldn't fix it, that's the time we really have to be tighten our budget and remove the money from our pocket. For example, we had to pay for a gearbox, second hand, the same brand of the old one, around 900 euros, ouch! And we had to remove and install it by ourselves.

The supermarkets are everywhere and vary in products, it depends on how you choose them. We always compare prices of our staple foods like milk, rice, pasta, flour, egg etc. Choose wisely because sometimes the promotion items are more expensive than the normal one or something in gourmet supermarket may be cheaper than local supermarkets. Local grown doesn't mean always lower price but you will get better and fresher products. Sometimes, for example spices, fruits or vegetables are cheaper in the supermarket than in the local open markets. The supermarket branded products are often cheaper than the well known brands and maybe better quality, just need to be smart to choose. 

After three years in the humid and sunny weather, our cloths also warn out. Boat jobs are always dirty. We have less and less cloths, we just keep them simple, clean and take good care of them. Cotton is the best but have a shorter life. Our girl stops using diapers before turning three years old thus we save a lot of money on it! We started trying just with the afternoon nap then we gave her a week for night time. Some accidents happened sometimes, just try to encourage your kid.

We are travelers but still tourists. We visit free of charge attractions and attend free activities. If we have to visit a fort and pay the entrance fee then we will skip it. In some attractions is unavoidable to pay the local tour guide in order to see it. If that's the case we decide by checking our budget. A lot of places and museums are free as well as churches and other places of cult.

Cruising is not that expensive but you can't just afford to pay the same amount like when you still have a permanent job unless you have a big sponsor or can work and earn money while cruising the same  way like when you were on land. It will be more expensive of course if you still stick with the same kind of lifestyle or behave like people who has long holidays on a charter boat. But full time cruisers know where are the cheaper beers, grow their own foods or catch fresh free meals. And that's how we survive cruising full time for three years.  


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