So what does it cost to sail around the world and how in the heck can we afford it? Well you need two things for sure, a boat that floats and money to cruise on.  Let’s look at Sundowner’s cost and refit first then the cost of the actual trip down below.

Cost of a Cruising Boat Refit

In the planning stages of our trip we scoured the web for information on good seaworthy boats.  We want to cross oceans!  We both fell in love with the Westsails or Wetsnails as they are refered to due to their sluggishness.  We were lucky enough to find Sundowner, our Westsail 32 for sale close by in Slidell.  She was in obvious need of some refit, but had sailed around the world 3 times already and we fell in love.

We paid an initial cost of $30,000 for Sundowner in May-2010 and estimated another $30,000 in refit cost for a total cost of $60,000.  The estimated refit cost soon grew to $70,000 as costs typically do for a total cost of $100,000-ready to go offshoreWe have been doing everything we can ourselves only needing to hire outside help for things like the bottom job and crane use for the engine removal.  This has and will save us TONS!

We created a budget which outlines all of our estimated refit areas and try very hard to stay within those numbers and not add too many non-essential items that will bring the cost over $100,000.  In December 2014 we finished Sundowner’s Refit! We kept a detailed record of everything we spent on the boat

Here is the FINAL Cost Breakdown by refit category  (as of Dec-2014):

Categories  Totals
Anchors/Chain  $         2,077
Boat Cost  $       30,248
Boatyard  $         5,883
Canvas  $         1,174
Dinghy-Motor  $         2,650
Electrical  $         5,583
Electronics  $         3,572
Engine Room  $       15,025
Galley/Propane  $         3,233
Interior  $         1,255
Materials  $         3,786
Plumbing  $         2,676
Rigging  $       15,860
Safety Gear  $         4,128
Sails  $         1,289
Spares  $            512
Tools  $            770
Final Actual Cost 12-01-14  $       99,720


Click on the links below for our detailed excel sheets.

  1. Sept-2011 $50,885 End of Phase 1 (Initial price, engine and related systems replacement)
  2. June-2012 $61,240 End of Phase 2 (Electrical, dinghy and outboard, anchor, air head)
  3. Mar-2014 $82,298 End of Phase 3 (Rigging, Interior improvements)
  4. **Dec-2014 $99,720 End of Phase 4 FINAL REFIT COST (Windvane, Solar, Propane, Spares, Misc)

Funding the Trip Itself

There are many different ways depending on your personal situation but here are a few:

  • Save for a lifetime then start your trip once retired, utilizing savings and social security;
  • Come from a well to do family with plenty of financial resources to fund it;
  • Work while traveling so you can pay for your trip as you go;
  • Obtain sponsorship through blogs or services to help fund your trip;
  • Work and save as much money as possible before you quit work and start your trip.

We are doing the last one and savings all of our pennies.

A breakdown for those in similar situations:

Tate and I are both college grads and have been working since graduation.  Tate turned 33 November-2014,  I turned 31 May-2014 and we have no children or dependents. We bought Sundowner in May-2010 and have been refitting and saving for the trip since then.  Tate sold his house in December-2011 and we moved into a rented condo in the New Orleans area.  We worked hard and have been totally debt free  since August-2012!

From everything we’ve read and people we’ve talked to we decided that $3,000 a month was a conservative estimate and should cover all our cruising expenses including boat maintenance, insurance, medical visits, food, alcohol, pleasure, diesel and so on, We are also setting aside $7,000 for the passage through the Panama Canal.  So $115,000 for the sailing trip.

We initially estimated 3 years to complete the trip, although we are having thoughts of extending it to 5 years if we can be frugal sailors and live on about $1,500/month with some months costing more.

We (I) also feel like we need money for when we return to land, so we are striving for $40,000 to make the transition back to land which will include housing, clothing, transportation, travel and anything else needed while we seek employment.

Next we sat down with pen and paper and figured out how much we money we could spend each month while still saving enough to fund our trip. Combined we take home about $10,000 after taxes each month and figured our bills to be $3,800 a month so the remaining $6,200 a month goes into a separate account for the trip and boat refit.  This account cannot be touched unless it is within the budget for boat refit.  Keeping our monthly spending account and saving account separate makes it easy to resist the urge to spend more money than allotted for that month!

If all goes as planned at a minimum we will have $108,000 for our sailing trip, $7,000 for the Panama Canal, and $40,000 for our return to land. $155,000 total.