Budgeting for a circumnavigation

Let’s talk about money and budgeting for a circumnavigation … There are stories of folks sailing on a dime. Although empowering these are not very realistic for what we’re trying to accomplish. In her book “The Voyager’s Handbook” Beth Leonard presents three reasonable case studies. The budget varies to buy and refit a boat varies from $30,000 to $500,000. To this, one must add the ongoing costs to support the boat: insurance, berth fees, maintenance, fuel, etc.

Sponsored circumnavigations live on budgets that are significantly higher, in the multi-million dollars. For us, it’s fairly simple. We have what we have, which is about $150,000 for everything, from beginning to end. How would we spend this?

Owning the boat

For this campaign we expect to keep the boat for about 3 years. During those years we will incur costs for the following:

  • Insurance premium: about $3,000/year
  • Berth fees: about $500/month
  • Consumables (water, electricity, fuel): about $25/month

After 3 years that’s $27,900, just to own the boat.

Refitting the boat

Most boats on the market are old, with aging, inadequate, dated or simply dead equipment. A six months or so circumnavigation will require much than that. Here are some of the typical items that will require an upgrade for any sailboat:

  • Standing rigging & spars: the mast, the boom and everything that keeps the mast up. Let’s budget $25,000.
  • Running rigging: all the ropes used on the boat. Another $5,000.
  • The engine: it’s a sailboat but the engine is used heavily to charge batteries. Very important piece of hardware. Another $5,000.
  • The hull bottom: this needs to be painted and prepared to prevent growth at sea. Another $5,000.
  • The electrical system: an essential part of sailing a sailboat solo. Another $5,000.
  • Sails: here it’s possible to spend hundreds of thousands. So let’s just say another $25,000.

The total refit budget is therefor about $70,000. Add the cost of ownership and we’re at $97,900.

Equipping the boat

Sailing offshore requires a load of equipment for navigation, communication, water treatment, safety and other bits. Here are a few examples:

I’m going to stop here but more stuff can be added. Our total for equipment is $26,000, and the grand total is $123,900.

Trip preparation

We will need to hire services of specialists for a few things. We will also need food and security items on the boat. So, let’s add:

  • Meteorologist: $10,000;
  • Offshore training: $4,000;
  • Food: $5,000 (freeze dried is expensive);
  • Flares: $1,000.

So that’s another $20,000. Budgeting for a circumnavigation is not an exact science. We’ve made a few assumptions but our budget is already topping at $143,900. We now have $6,100 left. But, oh, wait! We haven’t even bought a boat yet! Where do we go from here? We need another $100,000. Or start cutting corners, which would increase the risks of failure at sea.

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