Friday, January 15, 2010

Money, cruising and the cost of tomatos in Spain or avoiding those WTF moments...

One of the questions you hear a lot is the rather basic, but very important, "What's it cost to cruise?" It's a simple question but all of the answers are anything but simple... As they say, it all depends!

Most of the battle to pare down cruising costs is won or lost long before you set off from the dock. Did you do your research? Can you fix the various systems on your boat (or at least make do without them till you can sort them out)? Have you locked yourself into expensive systems?

As most readers of this blog know, we lost our rig about a month ago and by lost I mean total loss including the mast, all rigging and sails. No big problem when all is said and done, and to be truthful, I am really enjoying the chance to build a new rig and one a bit more suited to the sort of cruising we favor.

Losing the rig is a good example of just the sort of problems that can destroy someones cruising dream, unlike say, the loss of radar which you can get along without till you sort out a replacement, fix it or simply decide to do without. Nope, losing the rig stops you dead (well maybe not for those "we never take our sail covers off" folks but you know what I mean). Throw in the fact that the rig is a BIG TICKET item... I'll admit that I am still a bit dumbstruck at the cost of getting a new mast shipped down to the Caribbean, new sails, rigging and all the various bits and pieces that added up to a very severe WTF moment.

When you think of it, the perfect cruising boat or cruising plan is one where you design out all the possible WTF moments which is why you do your research so you know what can cause those moments.

Our first real WTF moment way back when, was when we provisioned in France and I noted that just about all of the canned tomato products in France were actually from Spain, so while we provisioned to the hilt, we left tomatoes off the list as we were sure that since they came from Spain they would be cheaper than in France... When we got to Spain, not only did we find that tomatoes were way more expensive, it was almost impossible to buy them at any cost as apparently all of the canned tomatoes went to France. While not a WTF moment of the stature of sticker shock for a new rig and sails, it was still a WTF... and WTF moments are simply not good for the cruising kitty.

I'm lucky as I have been doing this boat gig for a whole bunch of years and I long ago learned to work on my skill set and tool inventory so I don't have to depend on people charging $75 and more an hour to do rather simple tasks. So, when I saw just how much a new stock rig would cost, I simply moved over to plan DIY which is still more money than I'd like but when the dust is settled my new mast (yes... singular and more about that later) will wind up costing less than the shipping alone for a new mast from Stateside.

So it does go...