Join Date: Sep 2006
Hello all, greetings from S/V Juno in Durban, SA.
I currently am looking at $450 USD per month, or $15 per day for food and operating expenses. It is essentially a flat fee that I modify depending on how long crew intend to be onboard, their experience level (special skills like perhaps a diesel mechanic or electrical guru) and how many of us there are onboard.
I spend a bit more on fuel costs than other cruising monhull smy size as I do not have solar panels, and I do keep a freezer going 24/7 so I use a fair bit of electrical power. On average over the past 8 months in travelling from Thailand, Maldives, Chagos, Seychelles, Mayotte, Mozambique to Richards Bay in South Africa, never hooked to shore power, I averaged just at $300 USD for fuel costs per month for the boat. I spent some money on propane and oil changes but not eough to really matter in these calculatations.
I had three crew some of the time, two crew for the majority, and for a two month period, only myself. I did not keep tight records, but my cut is that around $10 USD per day is about the minimum cost for food per person. For folks with lots of experience or who have been on the boat a long while, I have charged as little as $300 even if they are the only other person on board.
You can certainly do food for less, many boats do, but I try to keep frozen chicken, beef, pork and lamb on board, and buy (barter for) the occasional fish, shrimp or squid from local fishermen. The availability of the meats and the price determines what is kept on board and what is bought. The biggest expense items are rather unexpected, cheese for example is in spots hard to find and expensive. But it is almost a staple. Canned food in spots is very expensive, and some crew, like the ones I have on board now, use three to four cans of stuff (ie mushrooms, corn, soup, peas, tomatoes and perhaps a can of mystery meat) plus cheese and pasta for a casserole lunch. One meal for three, a simple lunch, can easily runs $7-10 bucks depending on where the cans were purchased. This does not include the cans of soda water and fruit juice that washes everything down. Dinners tend to run more as that is when we tend to use the frozen meats. We seldom buy top quality cuts of meat, but on special occasions like birthdays the roast leg of lamp and prime rib are welcome events.
If you travel by yourself, and have to live by your appetite, costs are easy to control, but when you have "volunteer crew" who are doing the cooking, it is harder to dictate without being a Capt. Bligh. Not all crew are willing to eat only local veggies, they want Idaho baking potatoes regardless of the costs and rice is only occasionaly seen with these crew. I do not drink milk, but some crew expect UHT milk for coffees and cooking, powdered milk won't do. Some will not cook squash or pumkins or eggplant but expect green beans and ice berg lettuce. Each set of crew is different, and the skipper can only set some guidelines and work to control the costs by limiting meat portion sizes and buying only lower quality cheeses, but my belief is that you really should not stop the creative cook from bringing out the can of aspargus spears, water chestnuts, anchovies, spanish olives, etc.
The other issue is storage, particulary of fresh items, those that require cooling and those that should be bought in bulk to help on cost control. If you have constantly changing crew, and let them shop for themselves, you have more issues with storage of these tyes of items.
So I almost always do the shooping with crew the first few times out, just to get them in the mood of buying by the 10 kilo lot of potatoes and such, and to help sort of show the way that I want the money they have given me spent for food. I allow them to choose their cereals since I do not eat those, but encourage things like wheat bran and muesli rather than the othe stuff, it just is better value and takes less bulk than cocoa puffed rice or similar products
A final note, shopping trips almost always mean hiring a taxi when away from the USA, so the cost of everything goes up a bit there as well. We have not mentioned, salt, pepper, paper towels, jell, jams, butter, margarine, prepared sauces that you really can not make from scratch easily in many spots (pesto or mint sauce) and so on.
So my perspective is that $10 per day is just a minimum for these costs, $3-5 per day for fuel works out about right, depending on number of crew. When on passage, you eat less of the frozen, but you whip through canned, dry goods, cheeses and juices in a big hurry, especially if the crew is young active folks. Older folks do not eat so much, but they expect meals of a higher quality.
Wish I had kept better records to support my thoughts, but that is a summary of my experiences.