Retire in a House or Cruise in a Yacht, What is the $$ Difference…#32

“How on earth can you afford Cruising from Oregon through the Panama Canal to the East Coast?” 

How much does it cost to cruise with that big boat?”

Answers to these questions….

Everyone has different ideas on what to do with retirement and choices where to spend your money. My husband and I have picked a more unusual way to spend our life and cash then most people. We are spending our retirement on the water in a yacht. (for a few years) It seems like an extravagant choice to make with retirement.

Here is how we make it work….

Majority of people that choose this type of adventure pick a sailboat, which is a much more economical way than our choice of a MV (Motor Vessel). It was an easy decision for us, we have always have had a motor yacht. We just needed to figure out how to put our plan together to make it happen. You can also read a previous article Just Some Sheer Luck …#2 see why we picked our particular 1980 80′ Hatteras yacht.

Here is what we spend…..

  1. Fuel is the most expensive part, but it is what keeps us moving on this adventure. We have 3 large tanks located in the bow, mid-ship, stern, which hold approximately 1800 gallons of diesel fuel. When head out for a new destination we always stop to top them up. This is a costly endeavor. We burn approx 1 gallon a mile and the price varies from $3 a gallon to over $4. We have traveled approximately 4000 miles so far, which calculates to $12,000 in fuel. We can reduce our consumption rate by running at a more economical speed but do have the capability of pushing it hard if a storm or danger is identified. We prefer to cruise around 7 knots which is the most reasonable speed / fuel consumption. Finding fuel is like finding a marina, you google it, ask friends, read cruising guides, blogs, Marina FB pages and or call ahead to the marina and ask. Once found you pull up to the fuel dock and fill similarly to a car with exception of the length of time it takes to actually fill the tanks.
  2. Marina cost is the next highest expense. We PV marinado have a choice here. We could anchor out in a bay and not pay a thing. Which we did most of the time up in the Sea of Cortez. See that story here – Sea of Cortez Anchorages & Marinas, A Nautical Travel Guide… #29. In Mexico we have enjoyed going into marinas/resorts where we can get into town easily. We go out to dinner, grocery shop, meet and visit with neighboring boats, repairs/maintenance and enjoy the beach/resort etc. We can do this all without having to put down our dinghy/tender. We have been warned many times about leaving our dinghy down when anchored at night. Which means we have to put it up and down every day if we want to get to land. img_3192We also feel safer inside the marina. Over the last 16 months of our adventure we have stayed in Marinas approximately 85% of the time. The marinas cost is on a per-foot basis and the bigger you are the more you are charged. The per-foot cost is $.80 to $2.50 per night. That makes it approximately $64 to $200 a night for our 80 foot yacht. In addition to the slip fee, some marinas charge for water and electricity. Mexico electricity is expensive at $.33 per KWH verses USA at  $.10 per KWH. This can all add up if you are running air conditioning during the summer, like we do. We also have inverter, batteries and a generator for electricity. This costs a bit more more due to fuel and generator wear and tear, but we must use when anchored out, which is our only choice. (Topic for another article). We have not had to run AC much at anchor, so only 4-6 hour of generator per day. The rest is off the batteries and inverter.
  3. Food is the third most expensive item. We go to grocery stores and cook aboard as much as possible. Mexican grocery stores are a bit different than American. You can’t always find what you want, so you adjust, sometimes find something better or just go without. img_3132 Some items are impossible to find, without paying a huge import tax. Example; We love crackers and cheese for snacks/appetizers etc. The cracker selection in Mexico is very limited, Ritz or Saltines. A small box of Wheat Thins is approx $7 usd if you can find them. The cost for both groceries and restaurants are less than US. We spend approximately 400 usd a month on dinners out  and groceries.
  4. Boat Mortgage – We don’t have a boat loan. We purchased an old boat and use proceeds from the sale of our big house when we downsized. We still own a small house which we rent out to reduce our cash flow out.
  5. Boat Maintenance – Maintenance and repairs are an ongoing item and if you are thinking about doing this DON’T forget to save or have $$ for this. It is very important piece to the trip. Also bring spare parts with you aboard the boat, which will save lots of expense with import tax & customs. I can’t really put a cost on this because it depends on how old your boat is and what condition it is in. We’ve spent thousands on this on this over the last year. Motor Yacht again cost more than Sailing Yachts because of the additional engine costs. it could be like paying for remodeling.
  6. Other costs – We fly home and to other locations once in a while to see our parents and adult children, who miss us tons.

Overall, our cost is similar to being at home, we don’t have a house payment but have fuel and rent for marinas which add to about the same. Food in Mexico is cheaper and more interesting. We are retired but still do a small amount of consulting with our business, Ennlovation LLC.

If this is something you are thinking about, reach out to us. We would be happy to answer your questions. Hearing from you helps direct what we talk about. So don’t forget to tell us what you think, ask a question, like, clap, high five us and you are welcome to share with others!

Please Speak up!!   

Gracias Amigos 


Paradise Isn’t Always Wonderful….#31

I’m sure you watch our posts and think…. “If only?” or “what a life” or “wish I could do that”…. but the real day to day life is more hard stuff and work than just sunsets, swimming in the ocean and eating tacos. Dan keeps an ongoing list of projects, some really hard and some easy… of course while we are working on the list, something else breaks and is more important and we reshuffle our priorities.

One of our most recent fix and a bit complicated was the removal, welding fix and reinstalling of a couple exhaust elbows. We have 4  two on each engine, 1 of them had previously had a leak and was repaired. When 2 of the remaining ones started to show signs of leakage we quickly decided to do the same to those that we had done to the first. This time I documented it and it was a bit easier because we understood more about it than before.

What we learned from the first repair:

– The water line is above the level of the elbow (when you remove the elbow water starts to pour into the bilge)

– Having a plug ready & sized properly to stop the water entering is a good option

– Helping hands is needed, Dan couldn’t do this alone

– You get wet, dirty and sweaty!! I know first hand

Prior to the removal of the elbow Dan went hunting for 4-6 inch thick hunk of wood that he could cut to size, plugging the opening once we pulled the elbow out. He found some solid wood remnants that the marina had left over from installing new whalers and were in process of tossing out. “It was Lucky” He attempted to cut them in circles to fit the diameter of the pipe but he didn’t have a good enough saw to accomplish. We asked the stainless steel repair shop to help us, he gladly cut them for us.

Once we had all the parts ready Dan and I prepared to remove the elbows. Sorry no pictures of the action as we both had our hands full. Dan loosen the hose clamps one at a time, top and bottom. Dan slid the top of the elbow down and out. As we were preparing to remove the bottom I would pull on the elbow while Dan would shove the plug into the end with his wood caps and tighten hose clamps around it to stop any water. This worked great but remember as soon as the elbow was removed water started pouring in. He had to move quickly.

img_2953Sergio from, “Machine Shop Vallarta” swung by to pick them up from us and started the repair. If you need any stainless steel repairs done or machine work while in Puerto Vallarta, we highly recommend them. You can find them on FB at Machine Shop Vallarta. The completed elbows came back all shiny and like new! We then prepared for the install… of course the opposite procedures of pulling them off was the process for putting back on. It wasn’t a hard process, but a bit messy and the final product and results are “perfecto”.

One other projects we are in-process of completing is the repair of our dinghy crane hydraulics. The hoist cylinder started to leak fluid from the main seals. Our nextdoor boating neighbors Ben and Andrea on SV Belle Vie helped us disassemble the crane. We took the cylinder & one of the sheaves  (rollers for crane line) into this same shop to have fixed. While it was out and down we were able to clean and paint the boom, and assess the hoisting crane cable & decided to purchase a new line. We will be getting a line with different material called Dyneema AmSteel, that will help the crane work more smoothly.

Here are some action pictures, using the Port crane to lift and move the Starboard one.

With all our projects we always look at repairing versus buying a new part.  Both options are always assessed on how to go forward from a “best repair” and a financial perspective.

We always feel lucky….to have our friends to help us! New boating friends, Machine Shop Friends and You that read about our crazy adventures! Thank you!

Hasta Luego Amigos

Lightning & Thunderstorms and change in plans, again and again….#30

Our plan a year ago when we started this adventure was to be through the Panama Canal and in the Caribbean by now. Maybe even take our boat up the East Coast to Annapolis for Dan’s 40 Year class reunion…. But with all things, flexibility is key when things you can’t control impact plans. Our January shipyard work took longer than 4 weeks and this put us into a situation where we would be hurrying down the coast to get out of the way of hurricanes….. (not an ideal situation) So we made Mexican lemonade and went to The Sea of Cortez  – Blog about this adventure = Sea of Cortez Anchorages & Marinas, A Nautical Travel Guide… #29

After our adventures north we stayed at Marina de La Paz. The temperatures were 90 to 100+, so we decided to head to Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta (a suburb of Puerto Vallarta) sooner rather than later, where it was a bit cooler, so off we went.

lapaz to PV travel plan.JPG

Out trip to Puerto Vallarta would be our third and Dan and I decided we would do this alone without the help of our friends. Our plan was: 

But with all good plans….they change. We departed LaPaz as expected, fishing along the way, with no luck. Totally uneventful trip throughout the evening. We had a great sunset, moonrise and moring blue sky.

We arrived at 7am at the mouth of the land where we would enter into the marina de yates. (we had never been to this marina before) pic of marina entrance.JPGAs you can see the entrance into the marina was very tight and was very hard to see visually. As we approached the opening (or where we thought was the opening) the waves were building up behind us and it was not a comfortable situation to be in. We could have been pushed into the rocks/land very easily. So we abandoned the idea of staying at this marina near Altata. We had already been underway for 20 hours and now we were heading down the coast for who knows how long. We looked for a bay we could anchor in overnight. We found a good looking one about 7 hours away. So we headed toward “Barras de Piaxtla”.

Arriving at a great looking bay with hotels/pangas/beach front and seemed to be popular location. We anchored and I started to cook some dinner. As we were eating,  the waves and wind were hitting us from different directions, competing with each other. The wind was blowing and holding us north/south but the waves were hitting us from the west. So we were getting hit broadsided and rolling us side-to-side. It was not comfortable at all. While this was happening I could see lightning stretch across the sky over the land. It didn’t take us long to decide to pull anchor and head towards Mazatlan. We had just completed 27 hours of cruising and really wanted to get a good night’s sleep. But it was not meant to be…. we were back cruising.

“Dan and I trade off the watch schedule with 3-4 hours of watch while the other sleeps”

As we headed to Mazatlan we had 5 hours of cruising and realized that we would be arriving around 2am, not an ideal time to go into the marina. Our plan was to anchor close to Isla de Pajaros Just outside the marina entrance. So after a total of 32 hours cruising we finally arrived, anchored and got some sleep. We pulled anchor and arrived in Marina Mazatlan at about 10:30 am and we stayed 3 nights. This gave us plenty of time to recover and be prepared for our 20 hour run to Puerto Vallarta.


This looks near, but it was about 10 miles away

We left Marina Mazatlan 3 days later at around 2pm due to the tide and currents. We planned to be in Paradise Village at around 11am if all went well. We had a pretty rough start but the sea settled down just after midnight. I took over watch from Dan at approx 2:30 am. The cloud cover was heavy and the lightning was surrounding me but was far away. At approx 4:30 am I could see a huge storm right in front of us. I needed to go around it but wanted Dan’s opinion first. So with hesitation I woke him up. We agreed to track the storm as we slowed down a bit to see which way it was going. An hour later I was making my move and decision to go around the storm as Dan slept for another couple hours.

By sunrise I was back asleep and Dan could get a better view of the storm and he cut through the center where the clouds and storm had parted.

We did hit a small corner of the storm as we got close to Banderas bay which gave us considerable amount of rain. With this slight deviation it increased our time by an hour and we arrived safe and sound in Paradise Village Marina at noon.

The evening we arrived, in one of our favorite towns/marina, we were invited to an event at the Vallarta Yacht club for drinks and dinner… and got to meet lots of boating new friends.

We are truly blessed to be able to live this life!

Thank you for following us and reading our adventures!

Dan and Angela on Angelique