Another question that we are asked frequently concerns the voyage’s expense budget and money-management matters.
BEFORE LEAVING: we spent exactly 100.000 Euros to equip the boat (main items: new sails, additional electronic instruments, wind- and air-driven generators, solar panels, watermaker, SSB, paper- and electronic-charts, pilot books, new dinghy and outboard) plus a wide supply of spare parts (mostly for the engine, but also for the on-board electrics and electronics).
We also had a lot of expenses: the Rally fee amounted at 15.000 Euros (10.000 GBP at the 2007 exchange rate), plus the cost of some trips to England for preparatory meetings and training courses (SSB and First-Aid) for a total cost of about 15.000 Euros. Also the lengthy trips to the faraway boat to prepare it for the voyage amounted to a significant expenditure, at least 10.000 Euros.
Finally, we spent 5000 Euros for a professional engine overhaul just before the Rally departure (well worth the money, we did not have one single engine-related problem throughout the voyage, unlike many other boats).
A CLASSIC MISTAKE: underestimating the boat preparation expenditure and then leaving with too-little spare money, which would not be enough in case of a major problem: NEVER LEAVE WITH TOO LITTLE MONEY, expecially if the boat is aging. The lack of funds is the first cause of aborted voyages!
THE VOYAGE: alas, the detailed data that we started collecting from the start have been lost together with the computers where it was stored when we capsized and the boat was flooded, and afterwards I lacked the time and the will to restart it; anyway, we can approximate a few figures:
– provisions: basic food items (bread, fruit and vegs, fresh food, fish and poultry) are generally available at prices much lower than in Europe, and also more sophisticated items (pasta, preserved food, meat, canned food) although slightly less easy to find, are normally not outrageously expensive; concening beverages, local beers are available almost everywhere and are normally moderately priced, while wine and spirits and, oddily enough, fizzy mineral water (or soda water which is the nearest replacement) are much more expensive and often hard to find. In the average, we did not spend in food more than what we would have spent at home.
– eating-out: this has been the most under-estimated expenditure!! Left to our own devices, we would have allowed ourselves a meal out every now and then, but being in a group a dinner ashore was the top opportunity to socialize, and despite prices were generally lower than in Europe (except for wine, that is…) we ended-up spending more than 10.000 Euros all along!
Also evenings at anchor were not safe, as it soon became customary to gather crews for a sundowner or a joint dinner onboard (to be reciprocated next day), and this was usually giving a deadly blow to each boat’s spirits reserves!
– Fuel: our total diesel-oil consumption amounted at 6.000 liters for an expenditure in the range of 6.000 Euros (diesel price was in most cases slightly lower than in Europe), plus 2.000 Euros of engine oil and filters, that we religiously replaced every 200 hours as recommended by the engine manufacturer (also because diesel was often rather dirty and filters had a tough life!).
– Port and canal fees: marinas are scarce around the world and when they exist they tend to be expensive, even though not as much as in the Mediterranean! We spent in the range of 3.000 Euros, not including Panama- and Suez-canal fees which were included in the Rally price.
– Maintenance: without the capsize, our maintenace costs would have been limited to about 1.000 Euros for repeatedly replacing the fridge’s control box, plus about 2.000 Euros for an antifouling job done in Fiji. Just for accuracy, we may add the use of few of the spare parts we were carrying (mostly water pumps).
The unforeseen expenses were a consequence of the capsize: over time, the cost amounted at about 10.000 Euros, just not big enough to justify calling the insurance (the excess plus the loss of the no-claim bonus would have amounted roughly to the same amount).
All in all, we did not fare too badly, despite the rollover damages we spent less than many other boats; a very conservative boat-handling certainly contributed to this result.
– Insurance: we had a full-coverage policy which, albeit expensive, is a must in a voyage where the risk of serious damage (or even of losing the boat) is not negligible. Not too easy to find a Company willing to provide world-wide coverage, we were insured by Pantaenius like several other Rally boats, and we know for a fact that they have paid with no fuss some serious accidents (including a total loss during the previous Rally).
Total expenditure for 2 years has been about 8.000 Euros, approximately the double of what we use to pay for the same policy while in the Med.
– Communications: 800 Euros per year for the Iridium subscription (including 500 minutes of pre-paid conversation) plus 250 dollars for the Sailmail subscription, on top of which we spent in average between 100 and 200 Euros per month in phone calls: absolutely essential to buy a local SIM-card (or low-cost GSM phone) in each country:they usually sell for few dollars, and the price of calls to Europe is a fraction of that of European operators. We could also use GSM phones to call each other, which is very convenient, and GSM coverage was available almost everywhere, even in very poor and desolate areas.
– Sight-seeing: one travels to see places, and this unavoidably leads to additional expenses: car rentals, trips or flights to remote places, hotel stays, entry fees, and so on: hard to define a figure, we spent about 15.000 Euros but we know other crews that spent much more.
– Emergency cash: a small stock of hard-currency cash (preferably dollars) is sometimes necessary for big expenditures to be made in cash (trips, hotels, various fees and, touch wood, unexpected repairs) or sometimes to change that into local currency. We left with a kitty of 5.000 dollars and 5.000 Euros, and we had to replenish our dollars stock several times during the voyage.
To be noted that very often transactions have to be in cash: only hotels and large supermarkets routinely accept credit cards (Visa and Mastercard only, Amex is much less accepted).
On the positive side, ATMs have become ubiquitous and we never had to go to a bank to get cash, but be careful with the Credit Card’s fees! In our case, the italian cash-only cards connected with the Cirrus international circuit were far cheaper than others and widely accepted by ATMs all around the world.
Despite we ran most transactions in cash (using the cards to draw money from ATMs) we had one of our Credit Cards cloned, and the same happened to several other crews, so it’s advisable to keep the cards’ monthly expense ceiling to a low figure (say, 1.500 or 2.000 Euros) as a safety measure against theft.
Another problem to be addressed before leaving is how to get the new cards when the existing ones expire: no credit card company will ship to anywhere other than the customer’s home address, so you will need to formally authorise somebody to collect the new cards when they are shipped and forward them to you (preferably hand-carried by somebody).