Boat Maintenance Costs Accounting
Richard asked about how much we have been spending on boat maintenance. A few comments are in order.
- We spent a small fortune (no make that a large fortune) getting Ainia ready to go and these costs are not included in our monthly expenditure summaries.
- There are also valid questions to be asked about our accounting practices. We keep very close track of spending as we go, but have not considered the use of boat s paresin our costing. For example, we left Florida with something like a dozen oil filters for the Westerbeke (and comparable numbers of fuel filters along with filters for the genset) and perhaps a dozen gallons of diesel oil. When we do an oil change we have not included the cost of the oil and filters in the monthly charges but would add them on when we replace these items - which hasn't happened yet.
- Very importantly, when you cruise you often cannot spend much on boat maintenance because there is nothing to buy that you might need. In some countries there are few boat parts to be had and you can get stuff sent in. Panama and the Bahamas are good examples of this. In some places, Ecuador is a good example, you could try to get stuff sent in but more often than not it will disappear somewhere along the way (likely in the infamous customs warehouse in Guayaquil). Or you will be asked to pay ‘handling charges’ that may be more than the value of the shipment. (In theory, shipments to a “Yacht in Transit” should be duty/sales tax free but this stipulation is often ignored.) A boat here had some engine parts shipped in and was required to pay Fiji$18/hr for a customs agent to accompany him from the post office to the boat to make sure the parts were going to a boat. The customs woman actually went out in the dinghy with him to see the box put onboard.
- Some places have some yacht equipment available and most services you might need. Fiji and Tahiti would be good examples. Even in these places the selection is limited, prices high, and sizes generally metric, which does not help if you have an older North American boat. There are a few places where you can get anything and everything – New Zealand and Australia are the obvious examples, although even there you will be faced with marine industries focussed on 240v and metric measurements. It is a happy coincidence that most cruisers go to one or the other for cyclone season which provides a good opportunity to get your boat back in perfect shape after coming 10,000 miles or so and before heading off the next long stretch of a circumnavigation.
- American Samoa is a unique place in the sense that it is part of the US postal system and recognizes the “Yacht in Transit” designation (they have a local sales tax on other imports apparently). In fact, West Marine offers $20 flat rate shipping to AS and does do price matching. There are a couple of complications though. Defender only sends order up to $500 (although they sent us an order that was almost $2000 (water heater and new instruments) because we were repeat customers). West Marine wanted a bank draft above $1000. In any case, a visit here does give you easy access to US boat stores and we spent quite a bit of money here that will be reflected in the monthly summary for July.
- In terms of getting work done, you can usually find a diesel mechanic (parts are a different matter) and outboard mechanics, but you rarely will see an outboard in the South Pacific smaller than 20 hp (most are much bigger) so parts are a problem. Different brands of outboards dominate in different countries. Fiji, where we are now, is dominated by Mercury but elsewhere you would rarely see a Merc. Boat refrigeration and electricians are rare.