MONTHLY EXPENSES ON AMERICA'S GREAT LOOP - APRIL 2022
Traveling around America’s Great Loop doesn’t have to break the bank. This article explains the detailed monthly expenses in of our journey around the Great Loop. By sharing our Great Loop monthly expenses with you, we hope to inspire other people that you can do the Loop on a budget at any age.
NOT ALL GREAT LOOPS AND BUDGETS ARE THE SAME
Completing the Great Loop is a unique experience as it varies from person to person. The Great Loop is full of a variety of people with varying-sized boats, budgets, and lifestyles. This article is to help show the various expenses of a young couple with a dog on a budget who are balancing working full time, traveling to new places, and learning how to cruise. This is by no means the only way to do the loop, but it’s how we are doing our loop. Just as the Great Loop experience is completely customizable, so is each person or couple’s budget. We have chosen to anchor as much as possible on our loop to maximize our time away from marinas that tend to be rather pricey. Our time at marinas is typically very focused on getting convenient boat tasks done like washing the boat, filling up our water tanks, grocery shopping, boat work, projects, etc. We find that spending the money to have a reliable and trustworthy anchor setup was valuable to our overall budget because it helps us limit our time at marinas which can be rather pricy. With this being said, marina expenses will vary from person to person depending upon their preference and budget to anchor or visit marinas more often.
CHECK OUT OUR PAST MONTHLY EXPENSE REPORTS
WHAT KIND OF EXPENSES ARE ON THE GREAT LOOP
Traveling on the Great Loop has many of the same expenses as on land, however, there are a few specific to life on the water. We divided up our Great Loop expenses into a few categories including marina, fuel, groceries, housekeeping, restaurants, attraction/tours, insurance, boat projects, and others. Here are how we made these categories and what is included in each of them:
- Marina. This category is for all services rendered at a marina, minus fuel. That includes mooring balls, docking, pump-outs, water, and tips to dockhands. Marinas typically range from $1/foot to $8/foot depending on your location (see more below in our April travel summary). In our experience, the ICW in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina has been moderately priced between $1.50 to $2.25/foot. Some marinas also charge $5-30/day for electricity The cost of electricity depends on the boat; we have 30 amp shore power while other boats might have 50 amp shore power. Depending upon the marina, location, and amp shore power depends on the cost of how much the price of electricity is. When available, we try to get a mooring ball as they are a fixed price and provide many of the same amenities as a marina, just without the convenience of a dock. We’ve found mooring balls to be about $20-30 a night, which is significantly cheaper than a dock could cost us. Pump-outs can range from free to $10, however, we usually see pump-outs costing $5. Usually, water is free with diesel to fill up or overnight dock stay. Each time we visit a dock, there are usually people there to help catch lines and assist you when docking. We tip each person about $5/person.
- Fuel. This category is just diesel fuel. Our engine and generator take diesel so we have two large diesel tanks that hold about 300 gallons total. When our tanks are getting low, we begin to shop around for diesel before making a large fill-up. We made a video on Tips for Saving Diesel on an Old Trawler which includes searching for the best diesel prices on Waterway Guide and Cruisers Net. When researching fuel prices, be sure to look at whether tax is included or not. That can affect your overall fuel prices by several cents when filling up hundreds of gallons. By doing our homework and searching around ahead of time, we can avoid high fuel prices and can rest assured that we’re getting the best price available.
- Groceries. This category includes groceries, pantry items, large provisioning hauls from Walmart or Amazon, and alcohol. While we lived on land, we would shop around at various grocery stores for deals. Now that we live on a boat, we’re at the mercy of whatever is most convenient to our boat and shopping at whatever grocery store is available. There might only be one grocery store in town in some cities or towns, while other locations might have several options available.
- Housekeeping. This category includes things like laundry and propane refills. We primarily wash our clothes in marina laundry facilities. Each load can cost between $1-4 per load, with the average load costing $2 for a total of $4 to wash and dry one load of laundry. Our galley uses two primary fuel sources for cooking: electricity and propane. We have two propane tanks for our stovetop and grill cooking on our boat. Fill-ups usually cost around $5.
- Restaurants. Part of the fun of traveling is tasting the delicious food that’s popular in a specific region. This category includes everything from bars, restaurants, desserts, coffee shops, etc. Anytime we ate out whether it was taken out or dining in, it went in this category.
- Attractions/Tours. The other part of traveling is seeing various sights and taking tours to learn more about a place. This is category will vary significantly from place to place, but is something we value to make the most of our Great Loop experience.
- Insurance. Part of owning a boat includes boat insurance. It’s just part of doing business.
- Boat Projects. This category is for all hardware, maintenance items, or engine pieces that are completed on the loop. This can range from boat improvements to maintenance items. Anything related to our boat goes here.
- Other. This category is for any miscellaneous items that don’t fit into the previously mentioned categories.
TRAVEL SUMMARY - APRIL 2022
Before we dive into our April expenses, it’s important to understand where we traveled, how far we cruised, and some peculiarities in our particular loop experience. We began our travels in Georgia traveling from Fort Frederica on St. Simons’s Island and traveled to Portsmouth, Virginia for a total of 695.6 nautical miles. Here is our Nebo travel summary for April:
Nights at a marina dock: 4
Nights on a mooring ball: 0
Nights on a free dock: 11
Nights at anchor: 15
As you can see, we spent most nights on anchor for a total of 15 nights. We spent 4 nights at a marina and 11 nights on free docks, either private docks or marina docks that were shared with us for no cost to us. We went to two marinas this month. The first marina was in Charleston for $2.40/foot plus electric. Although there is an anchorage in Charleston, we’ve read reports of fouling anchors on the bottom, so we choose to deal with the high cost of the marina for two nights. The next marina was just south of Myrtle Beach, Osprey Marina, which is one of our favorite marinas for its $1/foot price. Besides that, we were fortunate to have free dockage available to us or were able to find safe, dog-friendly anchorages. If you’re interested in learning more about what it’s like cruising full time with a dog on America’s Great Loop, check out our blog post!
Some anomalies about the month of April that are important to consider are our guests aboard as well as our time with friends. We had Elliot’s mom visit us for one night aboard PIVOT. We also spent 3 days with friends on their private dock in Savannah, where we did 3 loads of laundry. If this were included in our monthly expenses, it would have added about $18 to our housekeeping and total budget. It also would have added $234 if we would have stayed at a marina. Knowing the anchorage situation in Savannah isn’t great for dog access, we would have only stayed one or two nights. We also had free dockage in Oriental, North Carolina at a marina, which saved us $90-150. If we didn’t have this option available to us, we would have docked at the two free public docks in town or anchored out.
Check out our blog post on cruising full time with a dog on America’s Great Loop!
GREAT LOOP MONTHLY EXPENSES - APRIL 2022
We spent a total of $3,549.82 on our Great Loop expenses for April 2022. This list does not include our healthcare, phone bills, personal subscriptions, and business expenses as those all vary from one person to another.
Our greatest expense was fuel for a total of $1,439.51. We bought 190 gallons of diesel at $4.55/gallon and 122 gallons of diesel at $4.60/gallon, which was higher than normal. We typically don’t buy fuel twice in one month, but we had been making a lot of miles and wanted to score some cheap fuel before we heard it would be more challenging to find cheap fuel in the Chesapeake Bay and the northeast US. After searching around for fuel prices and doing our homework, we did find the cheapest fuel available to us in our region. This is something we’re not able to escape as we’re in a motorboat, so we’ve tried to save money on other areas of expense.
Our second greatest expense this month was groceries for a total of $959.95. This month was particularly high as we bought a lot of pantry items on Amazon that we haven’t had to purchase in 6 months to a year since leaving on the Great Loop in April 2021. Most of the meals we eat are cooked on our boat, making this a particularly high category for us. The cost of eating isn’t an expense anyone can escape, however, we try to cook more meals than going out to eat at restaurants, which helps us overall save money.
Our third greatest expense was boat projects for $364.01. After we spent two days at a marina in Myrtle Beach cleaning PIVOT and doing some much-needed boat projects, we realized that we needed some additional boat cleaners, which we bought online and had delivered to a future marina. We also bought some additional parts and replacement parts for our bilge pump. These boat items were specific to our needs and requirements, so they’ll vary from one boat to another. 22
The remaining categories were pretty nominal. We tried to keep our exploring, touring, or sightseeing to free or inexpensive activities. We visited more restaurants this past month because we had a few places we wanted to stop and heard great reviews. We were a little over budget in the restaurant category this month, so we’ll try to rein it in next month. As we travel and are exposed to a variety of great food options, we try to limit our restaurant spending by sharing an entree or only going out for food that I can’t or won’t make on the boat (hence the fried food and ice cream).
As we’ve spoken with other loopers, their two highest categories for expenses along the great loop are marinas and restaurants, which you can see varies among our two greatest expenses on the loop. That’s why not all Great Loops and budgets are the same. Overall, this was a more typical month’s budget for us on America’s Great Loop. If you read our March 2022 Expense Report, you’ll know this month was higher than last month.
ANNUAL BOAT EXPENSES
There were a few boat expenses that we pay for on an annual basis. These items did not make our March Expenses because we paid for them earlier in the year, but felt it was important to include them in this monthly budget analysis:
- US Coast Guard Vessel Renewal $26.00
- Garmin Navionics Yearly Subscription for the US and Canada $21.99
- AquaMaps US and Canada Maps $29.99
- Boat US Annual Gold Unlimited Towing $169.00
This totals $221.98 of previous expenses paid that will last us for the upcoming year. It’s part of the cost of doing business in completing the Great Loop.
We hope this post provided you with some insightful information on how much it costs to do the loop on a budget. We will continue to make these monthly expense reports as long as they continue to be helpful to our viewers. If there is something you would like us to include in our May Great Loop Expenses that we missed this month, let us know in the comments below!
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