On this page we’ll share our cost for sailing the Atlantic Circuit. (If you want to read this page in Swedish, click on THIS LINK). As far as we understood it, what you spend money on will vary throughout the world so that’s why we thought to divide our costs to separate areas of the world. Our hope is that what we share will make the planning easier for others. We have divided our sailing trip into four different geographical areas:
- Northern Europe (Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, France)
- Atlantic Europe & Africa (Spain, Portugal, Canary Islands, Cape Verde)
- Caribbean (St Vincent & the Grenadines, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, Sint Maarten)
- Europe return trip (Azores, Wales, Scotland, Sweden)
All of the above are quite detailed, if you just want to read the summary stay on this page.
During our year sailing the Atlantic Circuit we have kept close watch on our expenses, and will present which categories we think it’s possible to spend less money and also when it’s not possible.
A little note, all crews and all boats are different and a lot of the costs presented here could be both higher and lower for another crew or boat. We have not lived on a minimum throughout our sailing trip. We have been eating out quite a lot and done some excursions. We also have an old boat, so boat maintenance is a big post for us.
First some info about us:
- We left Stockholm August 24th 2020 and returned to Stockholm again August 6th 2021. More details on how we sailed and where we stopped along the way can be found under Our route.
- Our boat is 35 ft (10,7 meters) and 3,3 meters wide which is relevant for marina fees. The bigger the boat, the more marinas will cost.
- Our boat is old (built 1965) so boat maintenance is a biggie for us.
- We are on a work-leave for one year. During that year we will plan our budget so that the money will last for our entire trip but at the same time maximize our experience. This means enjoying local food, some touristing activities etc. This is a cost that could easily be less.
- All the costs are for the two of us and not per person.
- And finally, we have done a trip like this ONCE. We are not experts. Everything we write is based on our experience and is not an ultimate truth. Our tip is to read about different peoples experiences and conclude all of them.
Here is our cost for sailing the Atlantic Circuit. More details of each category can be found further down the page.
|Food & Drinks||111’250||10’902||13’350|
The cost each months vary quite a lot (that’s why we choose to also present the costs for each geographical area, as mentioned above) but here is our cost for each month anyway for sailing the Atlantic Circuit:
Our monthly costs presented in a table:
|Average monthly cost||22’836||2’238||2’740|
And as a reminder, all costs are for the two of us. So we spent 11’418 SEK (1’119 EUR / 1’370 USD) on average per month per person.
FOOD & DRINKS
|SUMMARY FOOD & DRINKS||112’250||10’902||13’350|
Before we left Sweden we did a huge grocery shopping of dry food (pasta, rice etc), canned food, lentils, beans, oils, spices and so on. As we started our sail pretty late we wanted to avoid having to do spend time grocery shopping, at least through Northern Europe.
This huge grocery shopping was definitely a mistake..
When we got back to Sweden we still had food left that we bought in Sweden… Food is quite easy to find. Especially food like pasta, rice, canned food, beans and so on. They might be a bit more expensive in the Caribbean, but not much. What can be harder to find (and what’s expensive) in the Caribbean are specific seasonings. Like pesto, taco seasoning, sun-dried tomatoes and so on. If you want to make you own bread, good quality wheat and yeast can be hard to find in the Caribbean (but in for example Sint Maarten you can find it), but it is something you can buy throughout Europe. Food is cheaper in southern Europe than northern Europe.
When we provisioned for the Atlantic Crossing towards the Caribbean we bought a ridiculous amount of food. Of course, we planned that some of it would last for some time in the Caribbean, but still, too much food. On the crossing towards the Caribbean we spent 18 days at sea and bought several carriages of food. On the crossing from the Caribbean to the Azores we spent 26 days at sea and didn’t even buy one full carriage… And we didn’t run out of food on that crossing.
So, our tip is, don’t overdo the grocery shopping and you save some money and time 🙂 Don’t just buy a lot of food because everyone else does it (you see all pictures on Instagram for example and it feels like you have to do the same). An interesting input we have noticed after coming back to Sweden is that more people have asked about how we planned food for the crossings rather than how we planned water usage. A human being can survive roughly 3 weeks without food, but only 3 days without water. So quite interesting that more people ask about food than water. As the crossing to Caribbean are 3-4 weeks (give or take depending on what boat and where you start of from) it means that you will survive almost the entire trip without any food at all, and in an emergency situation the food already onboard is probably sufficient. Maybe better to have extra water than canned food in case of an emergency.
Instead of a super-mega grocery shopping of canned food we would do some serious meal planning for as many days as the crossing will be, and buy some extra food, if we would do this trip again. And also buy nice food you like that also lasts long. If you never liked canned tuna you probably won’t start to and it just take up unnecessary space… Pasta with pesto was a favorite of ours, simple to cook and lasts really long. You can vary it by adding tomatoes in the beginning of the crossing and feta-cheese by the end, for example. And of course we would buy canned food, just less.
Also make sure to read up on how long fruits and vegetables last and how they are best stores. There are several good books on the subject. And plan the meals so that you eat fruit and vegetables that ripe fast (tomatoes, salad, paprika for example) at the beginning of the crossing and save the ones that last longer towards the end (cabbage, apples, oranges). We did a more serious fruit and vegetable – planning for the crossing towards the Azores, and we could eat fresh food during the entire crossing. When we arrived to the Azores we had potatoes, cabbage, onions, apples, garlic, lime, lemon and oranges left, perfectly fine to eat. When we arrived to the Caribbean we had no fresh food left, we had eaten it all or it had gone bad.
If we would have this trip once more, we would buy more spices and seasonings in Sweden and throughout Europe good quality flour and yeast. We would have bought olive oil and natural oil in Spain or Portugal instead of Sweden (way cheaper) and less dried food and canned food. We didn’t even use half of our cans! And we wouldn’t buy so much food in the Canary Island for the Atlantic Crossing.
So as a conclusion: Don’t buy too much unnecessary food and take care of the fruit and veggies!
Sailing on a budget? Make sure to make a proper planning before buying food. Don’t buy food you’ll never eat. Plan where in the world you buy certain food. Buy beans, lentils etc instead of meat and fish.
We tried to eat most meals on the boat but at the same time we want to try local restaurants, so every now and then we visit a restaurant. We ate at restaurant more often in Atlantic Europe and Africa than northern Europe. It was pretty cheap. In Mindelo, Cape Verde, we probably ate more meals at the Marina Bar than at the boat.
Eating out on a restaurant in the Caribbean can be quite expensive. But what we noticed is that you can find cheap local meals. We ate a lot of roti, fried or grilled chicken with either fries or rice and such, and that was not very expensive. We had some lobster bbq evenings and also ate at restaurants sometimes.
Sailing on a budget? This post could easily be less, by simply eating all meals at the boat or make sure to choose cheap places.
Bars & pubs
The further south we got the more visits we had to bars (also included beach bars in the Caribbean). We didn’t hold back here as we only were away for a year. In the Caribbean a beer costs the same at the beach bar as the grocery store…
Sailing on a budget? This is also something that could be less, if sailing on a budget. Buy drinks at the grocery store instead or just skip the drinks.
Here we have other small food we might have bought, a coffee to go or something like that.
|Spares & Repair||37’751||3’700||4’530|
|SUMMARY BOAT MAINTENANCE||45’003||4’410||5’400|
Spares & Repair
We had an old boat, built 1965 so before we started our trip we expected to have high costs for boat maintenance. When you read about budgeting for a sailing trip it is often said that you should expect to spend 10-20% of the boats value on maintenance and repairs. And if it is an old boat you should set a higher percentage. We spent roughly 16-22% of our boats value (depending on what you set the value to) on boat maintenance.
We do all jobs ourselves, if you are not so good at boat repairs or don’t want to spend time doing boat repairs you should have a higher budget for boat maintenance. When sailing long distance you stress the equipment and a lot of things will break. It can not be avoided by buying a new boat. All boats that sail like this will need repairs.
Sailing on a budget? The boat maintenance is an unnecessary evil and very dependent on what kind of boat you have. But all boats that do a trip like this break down eventually, you can only hope that it is something that can be fixed and that it won’t be too expensive… We do all work ourselves, and by doing that it saves us a lot of money.
Other consumables that we have bought for the boat; engine oil, buckets, oil filters and things like that.
Sailing on a budget? Don’t skip maintenance to save money. Service the boat and all that goes with it in time, or it might cost more than to just do it in the first place.
Most of the times when we needed transport we took public transportation. But a few times we took cab (when we had bought a lot of food before the Atlantic Crossing for example) and also rented cars a few times.
Sailing on a budget? Take the bus or walk instead of taking a cab or renting a car.
We spent some money on tourist things, a few guided tours and access to parks and stuff. We had budgeted for this. But we also did a lot of excursions that didn’t cost so much or were free. A lot of things to see without having to spend money.
Sailing on a budget? There’s a lot of excursions in the nature and in cities/town you could do without spending so much money. Just walk around and don’t visit places that charges.
Other stuff we did, like diving one time in the Caribbean.
|Cruising permits/check in costs||4’013||393||482|
|Covid-19 PCR test||6’853||672||822|
|SUMMARY CRUISING FEES||42’103||4’126||5’052|
Cruising fees/check in costs
In Europe we had no check-in costs of cruising fees. Even with Brexit we didn’t pay to check-in to UK. In the Caribbean and to enter Cape Verde we paid check-in costs and cruising fees.
As we sailed during 2020/21 with covid-19 we had to use agents to enter for example SVG and Dominica, so a bit more expensive that year than they usually are.
Sailing on a budget? The check-in costs have to be paid when entering a new country (if not EU/Schengen) but by staying longer in a country and visiting fewer countries money can be saved. (Also way nicer to stay a while in a place and not rush).
In Europe there is not many alternatives to anchor, so a lot of nights are spent in marinas.
In the Caribbean we anchored most of the time, except a few nights on moorings (when we entered SVG in the quarantine area (covid-19 rules) we had to stay on mooring buouy, for example). But most of the time we anchored as it is cheaper than mooring buoys and safer (a lot of mooring buoys are not well taken care of). We stayed in marina for a few nights, not as expensive as you could imagine a marina in Caribbean would be.
Sailing on a budget? Anchor instead of staying in marinas, if possible. Stay longer at one place, in a lot of marinas you pay less if you stay a longer time.
Covid-19 PCR tests
As we sailed during covid-19 we had to do a lot of PCR tests when entering new countries.
Here we have some canal fees; Fixed Mast Route and Caledonia Canal. (The Caledonia Canal is the majority of the cost presented here, the Fixed Mast Route just cost a few Euros). Park fee for Tobago Cays in the Caribbean is also included here.
This category for communication costs is for any communication cost that is outside of our normal mobile payment. As there is free calls and surf within EU/EES countries we kept our mobile subscription as we had in Sweden. That cost is not included here as it is shared with other stuff we had back home. The costs presented here is ONLY the costs we have paid extra to use communication.
We sailed with a short-wave radio and didn’t use a satellite phone. If you sail with satellite phone you could expect this costs to be higher.
Sailing on a budget? Buy local sim-card, use Wi-Fi at bars/restaurants.
As we departed late we have had to have a good speed to get south. We have used the engine a lot. If departing earlier with more time to wait for a good weather window the cost for fuel could maybe be less.
We also chose most of the time to use the engine instead of drifting.
Sailing on a budget? Don’t be in a hurry and wait for a better weather window. Have a good setup for light winds.
Refill of gas bottles for the stove.
We have paid both our personal insurance and the liability insurance for the boat in advance.
|Third party liability (for the boat)||5’333||523||640|
Third party liability
We had a third party liability insurance only, with limit €3’000’000. The liability insurance covered all areas we would sail through. We used Y Yacht (now bought by Topsail). Finding insurance wasn’t easy, and you can read more about it HERE.
We extended our travel insurance offered by the insurance company we already have.
Sailing on a budget? Have a third liability only for the boat (but of course depends on what your boat is worth). And research to find a good insurance. Don’t go without an insurance to save money, that is stupid.
|SUMMARY OTHER COSTS||11’364||1’114||1’364|
Just minor pharmacy stuff that was necessary.
We bought some clothes and gear along the way. We also bought some souvenirs and other stuff like that.
Sailing on a budget? Don’t buy stuff that you don’t need.
In Europe we did our laundry in the marinas. Usually paid a few euros to use the machines. Bought some equipment for the kitchen, which we needed.
In the Caribbean you hand in the laundry and someone else do it for you. We tried handwash in the beginning but soon gave up and handed in the laundry instead.
Sailing on a budget? Handwash most of your clothes instead of handing in the laundry.
This was our cost for sailing the Atlantic Circuit. Here are the links for the geographical areas we sailed through with more details:
- Cost for sailing Northern Europe
- Cost for sailing Atlantic Europe and Africa
- Cost for sailing Caribbean
- Cost for sailing Europe return trip
Before our trip we did a budget for the cost of sailing the Atlantic Circuit, and it has both been very wrong and sometimes better than expected. Below is the difference between our budget and the outcome presented in Euro.
|Food & Drinks||8’645||10’902||-2’257|
So we actually spend less money than we had budgeted! Really nice outcome, even though some parts of our budget turned out completely wrong… The cruising fee is one example, but when we did the budget for the trip we planned that we would stop in more countries than we did. But due to covid-19 we only visited a few islands. That actually turned out to be a good thing, and we are glad that we stayed a longer time in each place than to rush through all islands. If you want to read about our thoughts before we started the trip our budget post can be found by clicking HERE.
Links to other blog posts about sailing costs:
We hope that by posting this, we will help future sailors plan their trips. Just want to highlight that we are no experts, just done a trip like this once. But when we planned this trip we read several different blogs/webpages and so on, and we think it is good to have different peoples opinions/experiences and then you can adapt it to yourself. All boats and crews are different and in the end, you are the one that know what’ll be best for your sailboat and crew. 🙂