Saturday, October 17, 2009

On the costs of cruising...

Way back, when we quit our jobs and set off to sail away in the general direction of Africa and points west, we were at a serious disadvantage as we simply did not have a clue as to what the whole cruising gig cost.

Part of the problem, of course, is that folks tend to be coy about things related to money... No one wants you to think they have to actually budget or pinch pennies (though we all do) so you get a lot of advice of the "cruising costs what it costs" sort! Which is, of course, accurate yet useless...

Now, I happen to be Mr Serious Cheap Seats... I get great satisfaction out of getting a deal and paying less. What's more I am PROUD of it! You will never catch me apologizing for getting a good deal on something or paying less! In my world view, people who pay silly prices for things and don't understand value are not bright people. Now don't confuse getting good value "cheap" with being "cheap"... There is a world of difference!

So for those readers who are not of snobbish and pretentious ilk and want to save a few bucks... Welcome to my world!

The internet is some kind of wonderful thing and I sure wish it had been around all those years ago when we headed "out west" and now that we seem to be about to point the boat east towards Europe, there are all sorts of ways that the internet is our friend!

The first being is that everyone keeps telling us that the Med and Europe are TOO expensive. So much so, that we were actually beginning to believe it. Luckily, where money is concerned, I never believe anyone without checking first. Lo and behold the Med, if you look at grocery prices, marina costs and haul out costs, is actually CHEAPER than the Caribbean! Right across the board stuff is cheaper with the notable exception of spirits! So while there is no $4 rum (I admit this one fact is somewhat problematic) and quality wines are a bit higher, the fact that I'd be paying 33% less or so for groceries goes a long way to making things affordable.

Looking at marinas and haul out situations in the Med, I'm seeing the same thing... Listed rates are certainly cheaper than here in the Caribbean and our personal experience with doing the boat gig in Europe before is listed rates are just a guideline. More often than not a smile and a bit of horse trading will secure an even better rate. I should also add that once you get to a place and interface with locals they will often steer you to better deals  as well!

So the big lesson here is simply do some homework... It might surprise you!