Today I’ll discuss some of the generalities of how much money and effort it took to finally untie the docklines and roll out of San Diego, down the coast of Baja and into our first three months of cruising. I closely watched our finances before we left…cause we were pretty low on funding due to factors out of our control. I won’t rehash all that, but I’ve included some of those factors (for context) for a family that’s prepping to leave…then going into their first couple months of cruising.
Three months from leaving:
August, September and October were crunch months for us. We already had a plan that we were working from (Nov 4th backwards) and we had put together a list of “Shit We Still Needed to Buy or Do” in addition to that plan. The need to get our engine taken out, rebuilt, then put back into the boat definitely threw a wrench into our overall plan. We had already planned to sell and get rid of both of our cars but I had not anticipated that the money would have to go straight toward “progress payments” for the engine. We had also hoped that insurance would cover the cost of the rebuild. It didn’t. But, insurance did cover the entire cost of “discovery” and diagnosis of the actual engine problem. In our case, this meant we needed to have the engine removed as our mechanics indicated we had thrown a bearing in the 6th Cylinder (and we had). After diagnosis of the problem insurance indicated they would not pay for the rest of the repair. Another challenge was that we tried to find out how much the final cost of the rebuild was gonna be (the vultures were circling) but the mechanics said they didn’t know and we didn’t have tons of available cash all at once; but we did closely estimate how much the 2nd boatyard stay was going to be (to have the engine put back in). Knowing we were gonna need additional funds, we were forced into using our precious “income” stocks. This took care of the engine and getting off the dock and on Nov 4th we were finally away.
Coming Down Baja:
Coming down Baja from Nov 4th on…there’s not much you can spend money on unless you are forced to buy fuel in Turtle Bay at $7 per gallon from the Panga Fleet. We spent a few dollars in Turtle Bay on salsa, chorizo and tortillas but we didn’t go out to eat and we didn’t spend much time in the town (we felt it was dirty compared to other Mexican towns). There’s nothing to spend money on in Bahia Santa Maria,,,(but we did spend $15 dollars on the fish dinner at the Baha Ha-Ha surreal beach party). Inside Mag Bay at Man O’ War Cove, where we spent more than a week…we bought some fuel at $6 per gallon and spent a few dollars at the tienda in town for some eggs and a few tacos and beer, but didn’t hang out there every day. But if you sail the entire way down Baja, you’ll certainly lower your fuel costs (only about six boats in the whole Ha-Ha sailed the entire way).
Cabo San Lucas:
Getting into Cabo is a whole another matter. You’re faced with several choices in lodging…ie: putting your boat in a slip, anchoring out or moving on. We anchored the whole time with a plan to get a slip, but the marina is crazy and our big girl (Tulum) isn’t made for maneuvering. So we never got a slip. That will eat into anyone’s pocketbook. But the fuel is more reasonable and there’s easy access to the fuel dock. We also re-provisioned here…look out for the Costco and Walmart traps. They got us…in the sense that we had not seen a store in awhile and we probably provisioned a bit too much…watch this pocketbook trap. The other trap in Cabo is obvious: LOTS of great restaurants and bars to hit up if you’re into the party scene. We did go to a few restaurants while we were here, but we watched our spending and found some great places off the beaten path that were cheap (we were the only gringos). But I do suggest you provision here: Frailes and Muertos have no provisions and you may choose to go directly to the islands like we did instead of going directly into La Paz…a good choice for us. Lesson Learned: After a $14 cab trip to Walmart, another cruiser told us we were crazy not to use Uber. This cut down trip costs to $3. Use Uber in Cabo and La Paz, much cheaper than any cabs.
November and December:
So November was “leaving the dock and coming down Baja”. November was a pretty cheap month but not likely to be replicated until we cross an ocean. December hasn’t been a cheap month but we anticipated these costs with our list of “La Pazism’s”. La Pazism’s is our list of things we needed to do or get done in La Paz. Our list included: fixing engine problems, fixing our bilge pumps, having someone look at our electrical backbone and allowing me time to do jobs around the boat. We’re about a ¼ of the way through that list as I write. We knew that December was going to suck (as far as spending goes) because we needed to be in a slip to get these things done and we needed to get professionals on the boat to take a look at some of the major items. Anytime and anywhere you’ve got to hire electricians or diesel mechanics…there’s going to be a higher cost. We also knew that when we had our electrical backbone and energy usage checked out in La Paz…they might tell us that our batteries were trashed. This is one of the things we were going to work through “off the dock” in September; but of course that didn’t work out. Getting to La Paz confirmed my fears about our house battery bank and we had to buy six new AGM batteries. This was one of the unexpected costs that made December so expensive. We also had to spend 3 weeks on the dock but that’s ok. All the girls on board needed a bit of a break (think hot showers and manicures) which has brought their happiness reserve back up to normal. I’m ok with this dock time too…as I get to do an oil change without pitching and rolling and we’re going to be able to see Star Wars!
So yep, November was cheap and December is going to be really expensive…so they will probably balance out. We’ve not had an average cruising month yet (in terms of costs) so I can’t benchmark that monthly spending yet. I will keep track of the first normal month of our cruising spending and keep you up to date on it.
Jumping to January:
I wrote most of this story in December while we were docked in La Paz, not realizing that we would have to take the boat into the yards here (in La Cruz, PV) for a week on the hard (ie: I had not figured that into my costs). We had wanted to look into new canvas for the boat and a new sail, but decided that would have to wait. Now that we’re back in the water and have dropped the slip for awhile, we’re going to look into that new sail. I’ve grown confident enough in our getting paid income monthly instead of bi-monthly to be able to predict some of our spending….so I’ve started to VERY slowly start getting tiny bits of money back into our REITS (income stocks) and next month after the sail purchase I’ll start figuring out how to buy index funds. Life on a sailboat isn’t predictable and isn’t the Corona commercial everyone thinks it is…but it has some really, really cool things that most folks only dream about. Now that we think we’ve had most of our major repairs done (that we know about), we’ll strive to have a few months of average spending so I can baseline the costs. We’re balancing between life on the boat, paying down (off) expenses and starting to slowly put money back into our depleted income stocks so we can eventually start living off that income while we’re still here on the boat. On a sailboat you can certainly influence how much you spend and how grand you live….cause you can make your own power, make your own water and control where and when you go places.
While we’re out here, I’m working on income through links to Amazon, Patreon and income stocks. I’ll work on building up our income stocks again very slowly. This will be a painful process as I had to drain our dividend stocks (to pay for the engine rebuild), but this time I may go for a varied mix that includes index funds. Index Funds are the clarion call of the celebrated Mr. Money Mustache and one of the ways the FIRE Movement seems to make some of their hard-earned money. Here at LF2SF, we have no one who levies expectations on us except ourselves. We have not started to dive into YouTube yet because it takes a lot of work and expertise that we simply don’t have (yet) and I’m pretty comfortable with the website (that just turned five). If you want to buy us a nice cold beer or buy Quincy some Kirkland brand dogfood, please consider taking a look at our Patreon Site and definitely follow our website.
Disclaimer…we have gotten some free sunscreen from Raw Elements to test out while full time living on the boat and we love it….thus we do feature it on the website. Truly, I use this every day!
Projects and Purchases Right Before We Left:
As I was writing Saturday’s post; I mentioned that we’d made a “Shit Left to Buy or Do” list. The genesis of that list happened in August after we knew we’d probably blown a bearing and would have to get our venerable engine taken out, rebuilt and put back in again…right before leaving for the Baja Ha-Ha. The thought occurred to me that some of my readers might want to see what our list looked like and how we did at finishing it all before we left. So I’ve cut, pasted and commented on our “Shit Left to Buy and Do Lists” as well as our list of “La Pazism’s”. The La Pazism’s list is a bunch of things we agreed we needed to get done in La Paz while we were on the way down the Baja. Both me and Michelle knew full well that the time not spent out on the water while our engine was out of the boat would cost us experience…and it did. Those three months spent in the slip and not out on the water would have provided plenty of sailing and at-anchor days and alerted us to our failing set of AGM’s…much easier, cheaper and faster to change in the US than in La Paz, Mexico. We would have worked on a number of technical issues on the boat that have now been worked out by experiental learning. So here’s the lists that we used three months before cutting the docklines and the list I put together for work in La Paz in December.
Shit Left To Buy
- Freediving Supplies: masks, fins, weight belts, spear guns- (Done)
- Fishing Supplies: Lures and tackle, fishing poles- (Done but we’ve never used the pole, our handlines work just fine)
- Homeschooling supplies: books, encyclopedia set- (Done)
- Hull Cleaning and Waxing- (Hull cleaned monthly but we skipped the last minute waxing)
- Water/diesel Jerry Jugs- (Done)- A word on Jerry Jugs- Too many boats decided not to bring them down the Baja (during the Baja Ha-Ha) and were forced to beg or buy them from other boats. BRING your own jugs!
- Diesel- (Done)
- Extra membranes for water maker- (Done)- available in La Paz
- Charcoil for barbeque (Done)- Available at Costco and Walmart
- Coir bricks- (Done)- Not available or widely known about, glad we brought what we needed.
- 4 Mexican Fishing Licenses- (Done)
- TIP- entry paperwork- (Done)
- Printer- (Done)- Available at Costco
- Google Fi monthly plan and iridium monthly service plan- (Done)- should have done and finished earlier than the end of October
- Quincy Grass Square- (Done) but we lost it over the side,,,,Jersey Girl gave us another one- Available at Walmart, we bought an extra one already.
- Gas for generator and outboards- (Done)- Available at fuel docks
- Postal box/address- monthly costs- (Done)- We should have just gone electronic with everything.
- Phone Plans- International calling?- (Done)
- Sails- Rest of the Payment- (Done)- PV Sailing in La Cruz is the North Sails Rep for Mexico and Jaime Gifford on Totem designs sails and advises on sails anywhere in the world.
- Extra water pump and sump pump- (Done)- Available but more expensive than the US.
- Extra fuel and oil filters- (Done)- Available
- Six gallons of straight 30 weight oil- (Done)- We couldn’t find our brand anywhere, but were able to get it shipped from the US.
- Blog Stickers and shirts- (Done)- great way to thank folks for doing great work for us.
- GoPro/Camera Supplies- SD Cards?- (Done)
- Engine re-installed, tested and shakedown-Engine- (Engine re-installed, but no testing or shakedown since it was only done 4 days before Ha-Ha departure)
- Exhaust pressure-tested- (Done)
- Transmission checked- (We hope it was done while the engine and transmission were out of the boat)
- Engine alarms fixed- (Done in La Paz)
- Oil Pressure gauge fixed- (Done)
- Auto-fire extinguisher system reinstalled- (Done)
- Wood reinstalled under ladderwell- (Done)
- Old Sails off, new sails paid for, delivered, installed- SAILS- (Done)
- Forward Battery Monitor Installed, CO2 monitors fixed and reconnected-(Done)
- Wenches cleaned and lubed- (Not Done- yet-)
- Latches checked- (Done)
- Mast holes sealed- (Not Done)
- Decks sanded, cleaned, sealed/conditioned- (Done)
- Stern anchor connected and windlass checked- (Done but stern windless doesn’t work)
- Webbing reattached with line vice zip ties- (Done)
- Oct- turn on and test Iridium- (Done)- Should NOT have waited till the last minute for this one, as I didn’t get Iridium Mail set-up while we were on good wi-fi. I would recommend doing this at least a month before departure!
- Film and practice lifeboat inflation with spare liferaft- (Done)
- Install Tank Tender System- (Done)
- Install new auto-pilot- (Done)
- Change screens for wind systems- (Not Done)
- Boat checklist- (Semi-Done)
- Dinghy chaps- (Done)- This one is more important than I realized. Folks have asked where we had our Chaps made and always remark that they wish they had dinghy chaps. No one wants to steal the dinghy with the ugly dinghy chaps…so we’re perfect. Sun, Sand and Salt Water tend to have a quick effect on most any rubber dinghy if left to their own devices. My advice is to put some kind of dinghy chaps or dinghy cover on your (rubber) dinghy before you leave the US.
- Dinghy cover- (Done)
- Barbeque reinforcement- (Made in US by MEGLA, installed in La Paz)
- fill propane- (Done)
- fill gas and diesel jerry jugs- (Done)
- fill both water tanks and water jerry jugs- (Done)
- fill fuel tanks- (Done)
- build side rails for jerry jugs- (Done)
The La Pazisms are just what they sound like…the list of stuff to get done in La Paz that we started making on the way down Baja. The list took on a whole new meaning when we didn’t have any working main bilge pumps (just outside of San Diego coming down Baja) due to the wires getting cut and never hooked back up when the engine was being put back into the boat in San Diego.
- Oil change- (Done)- I did the oil change-
- Soundproofing/heatshielding in engine room- (Done)- I did it
- Heatshield around exhaust lines- (Done)- I did this one, very messy job
- Refuel/reprovision- Reprovisioning was easy, refueling was not. There’s only one working fuel dock in La Paz. But there’s a gas station across the street from Marina Palmira that sells cheap diesel. Add a dock cart and my jugs…and you’ve got refueling!
- Batteries tested/batteries ordered/installed- (Done)- We hired an electrician who was able to tell us that our AGM’s were dying….and thus when we tried to charge off a generator they accepted charge VERY slowly and discharged very rapidly. We were forced to buy 6 new AGM’s and what a huge difference this made. In an hour…the new AGM’s accept more charge than the old one’s did in four hours.
- Sailbox off sail and out of the tub- (Done)- We had been toting a new mizzen sail around in the box (in the tub) all the way down Baja…but that box took up loads of room so one of my goals was to get rid of it.
- Tub cleaned out- (Done)- Tub was organized, not cleaned out.
- Scrape, resilicone all large opening windows- (Done)- Not sure if it helped.
- Appnt to get valves readjusted- (Done)- Valves readjusted.
- Order Bilge Pumps- (Done)- Electrician helped me take a look at both bilge pumps that were non-operational. One had been crushed by something heavy directly on top of it and water was inside the motor. The other one was ok. I bought a new pump and flexible hosing in La Paz and we had both pumps reinstalled.
- Install Bilge Pumps/redo bilge pump hosing- (Done)
I’ve been writing this blog since 2014. It started as a travel and sailing blog but turned into a website that tries to help folks (like you) realize that if we can do it…you can do it. And if we can help you not make all the dumb mistakes we’ve made…then it’s a win. Now we finally cast off the docklines and it’s hit us in the face that we’re not camping (Toto)…we’ve fully entered the cruising lifestyle. Cruising is lots of maintenance and work on the boat but it’s also slow travel (and traveling slowly). IE: We’re out traveling. I’m loving the opportunities for pioneer spirit as a boat allows you to carve out your own style, pace and decision making.
LF2SF strives to be independent and cruising/travel related with posts that will appeal to a cross-section of readers. We live on a cruising sailboat with our two kids and Great Dane; currently based on Puerto Vallarta, Mexico until spring when we return to the Sea of Cortez (Baja California). The best way to support us is to follow us…since our content is always free, fair and we try to keep things up to date. Another great way to support us is to buy us a cold beer via our Patreon Site. If you’re still reading…have a great day and thanks for reading.