financials

You’ve quit your jobs to sail around the Bahamas and Caribbean for a year or two? Cool. You must be millionaires!

Not even close.

In this new life of ours, we’re actually quite frugal. The more cash we can save, the longer we get to stay out and play. It’s a pretty good incentive, no?

To give you an idea of how we spend our money, I’ll be sharing a monthly itemized review of our spending and my thoughts on our financial burn in general.

Summary of expenses for January 2016, Exhumas, Bahamas

Grand total: $ 4127.97

Biggest ticket items
An overwhelming majority of our spend this month was in the boat parts category. The dinghy motor was a planned, and very necessary expense. The new winch, however, was not something we’d anticipated. It’s a great upgrade for the boat so we’re not that bummed about it. We feel lucky that we found a used one at a quarter of the retail price and that we found a way to get it here that was relatively affordable.

Good Investments for longer term
Bahamian customs fees, fishing supplies, and the marina slip back in Nassau – were all good investments.

  • $300 gets us 180 days in the country (assuming we decide to renew after the original 90 days), which is a fantastic bargain given how pristine and totally awesome the Bahamas has been so far. That permit grants us permission to catch fish, conch, and lobster.
  • The spear is a useful tool for getting free food, once we get better at using it, we hope it will pay for itself over time.
  • Visiting marinas is the quickest way to burn cruising cash so we avoid doing it unless it is necessary. In this case, we needed a place to check into the country, set up the sewing machine to do sail repairs, and easily bring the outboard motor aboard for the first time. We consider this visit money well spent. Also, as a bonus, the marina classifies itself as a travel expense with their credit card processing company, so I was able to apply points from my BarclayCard Travel+ Master Card towards this expense (so it’s like, free, right?!)

Costly Mistakes
BTC (the local cell/data carrier) offerings are confusing. Not wishing to be locked into a contract, I paid a start up fee to get a BTC SIM card (around $30) and Bahamian number for my iPhone, plus 5GB ($40) and 20 minutes of voice ($15) on a “pay as you go” plan. We each paid $20 to transfer our US numbers to Google Voice. At the time, I thought that if I used the five gigs conservatively, I could stretch it for a few months. Unfortunately, BTC makes that plan extremely inconvenient for cruisers. I found out later from a friend that the data does not rollover from month to month – you have to use it within 30 days or it’s gone (so I started using the internet like crazy in January). Also, if you purchase additional data it must be used within that same calendar month. The BTC office is only open on Wednesdays from 9-12:30 in Black Point. We happened to be there the last Wednesday in January, so I grabbed the chance to re-up my data, assuming that it would expire 30 days from purchase. I was wrong. February 1 clicked over and those three gigs went into the ether. A fellow cruiser told me about a service in the US that will arrange data purchases in any country you visit for a nominal fee. I’ll be looking into hooking that up as soon as I can find some damn internet.

What’s missing
You’ll notice that the lines for food, beverage, water, gasoline, and diesel are small or non existent. We loaded up on necessities in December (paying US prices), which helped us save money in January. We’ve been depleating those stocks this month, only lightly supplementing our food and booze stock with the expensive and limited options here in the Exhumas (I paid $7.65 for a single head of cabbage in Staniel Cay – $176 for food doesn’t stretch very far in this country!). We’ll re-up supplies once we reach Georgetown, and touch wood, these things should take up the majority of the budget come February.

Itemized expenses – January 2016, Exhumas, Bahamas

boat parts 

$2674

8hp outboard motor, winch gear repair, 2 stroke oil, used lewmar winch from eBay, shipping costs for winch
booze

$28

rum
cleaning supplies

$13.91

clothing
customs fees

$300

clear in Bahamas and fishing permit – 90 days (with option to extend with no additional charge)
diesel
eating out

$33

beers and conch sandwiches @ Lorraine’s in Black Point
fishing supplies

$206

spear, winding bobbin for handline
food

$176.08

groceries in Nassau 1/2, groceries at the Blue store 1/21, Bahamian bread in Black Point
gasoline
laundry

$21

3 loads in Black Point
insurance

$256

marinas

$150

2 nights in Nassau
miscellaneous

$30

subscriptions to digital applications and other ap purchases (Spotify, etc)
mooring balls
pet supplies
phone/data

$203

SIM card startup and 8GB, Tmobile hotspot, and Delorme
toiletries

$14.98

toys/games
trash

$6.00

water

$16.00

grand total

4127.97

Looking for more cruising costs? Check out the archives:

January 2016 – Exhumas, Bahamas
February 2016 – Exhumas, Bahamas
March 2016 – Exhumas & Out Islands, Bahamas
April 2016 – Turks&Caicos, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, BVI
May 2016 – US Virgin Islands, BVI, St. Martin