Stats of our 2023 trip – including costs

Now that we’ve finished cruising for 2023, here are some stats and some learnings for our loop next year.

We left Washburn, Wisconsin on June 21, 2023 and arrived at Northwest Creek Marina, New Bern, NC on November 15, 2023.

148 days. 2492.5 miles.

The route was across Lake Superior, through the Soo locks, the North Channel, Georgian Bay, the Trent-Severn Waterway, Lake Ontario, Oswego Canal, Erie Canal, Hudson River, Atlantic Ocean, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Dismal Swamp, and Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway to mile 185.

In those 148 days, 73 were “underway” and 75 were “lay” days.

Of the 73 places we stayed, 32 were marinas and 41 were anchorages, locks, free docks, or mooring balls. The significance of these numbers is that marinas cost more than the others. Anchorages are free, free docks are free, locks may have a small fee for electricity, and mooring balls usually have a flat fee which is significantly lower than the nearby marina. To manage your budget, you want to have more free/low cost stays than paid stays.

While Canada lock walls are technically not free, we bought the moorage pass so many months earlier when it was on an “early bird special” that it seemed like a no-cost situation while we were there.

However, although we stayed at more free/low cost PLACES, when it comes to actual nights staying in a place, we ended up staying more NIGHTS at marinas. We stayed 94 nights in a marina versus 54 nights at a free/low cost place.

The boat was in a marina in Orillia, Ontario for three weeks while we went home to Brenda’s dad’s memorial service. While we sincerely hope we won’t have another such reason for a trip, being realistic, we will want to make a trip or two home during our loop. *LEARNING* Be sure to figure the cost of having the boat at a marina into the cost of the trip home.

Orillia Marina was full of loopers when we arrived in early August, but was quite empty three weeks later.

We also had some marina days while we moved our car from/to points A, B, C, & D. Probably about 10 days were at marinas for that purpose. We hope to leave our car in one spot during our loop, so we should not have those 10 marina days.

Most of the rest of the excess marina days were because of weather. Sometimes, the bad weather was a couple of days away, but there wouldn’t be time to get to another marina before it came. Some of the places we stayed more than two nights because of upcoming weather include: Sault Saint Marie, Ontario; Britt, Ontario; Midland, Ontario; Cape May, NJ; Delaware City, DE; Solomons Island, MD; Lottsville, VA; Belhaven, NC. *LEARNING* Expect to have to pay for a marina because of weather,.

Often, it is nice to spend a couple of days at a marina in order to get laundry done and to do some sightseeing. And then there are the BIG ONES. Those places that are so cool that you just have to stay a few days. One big, spendy stay was Washington, DC. We stayed four nights there and it was so worth it!

Staying in downtown Washington DC was extra special

We didn’t stop in NYC on our way south, but hope to on our way north next spring. That will be another spendy stop.

Our total spend on marinas for the 94 nights we used them was $7,135.

Generally, the cost of marinas in the Great Lakes was less than what we saw in on the eastern seabord. The Canadian exchange rate helped our USD payments.

For our 43′ boat, we didn’t hit the >$100 mark for the night until we hit the Hudson River.

The highest we paid for a night was $176 at Half-Moon Bay on the Hudson just north of NYC. That might be worth it if you need a place to get to NYC, but for just an overnight the value for money was not there. On the Hudson, we stayed in marinas because we weren’t sure of the anchorages. However, after having scoped them out as we travelled by, we see there are some fine anchorages on the Hudson that we’ll use next year.

In regards to picking anchorages, we started placing a pin in Navionics at places we see experienced boater friends anchoring on the Nebo app.

Fuel: We started from Wisconsin with a tank full of diesel and our last fill up was at mile 2415 at Dowry Creek in Belhaven, NC. In those 2415 miles we burned 999 gallons of fuel at a cost of $4,575. That translates to 2.42 mpg. In those 2415 miles we put 307.4 hours on our engines. That translates to 3.25 gallons per hour. (These are actually pretty good mileage numbers.) Diesel prices have been mostly in the $4/gallon range. $4.99 when we started and $4.30 recently.

We have twin Cummins 6BTA 5.9 M 270 motors (for those who know about such things), and we run at between 8 – 9.5 miles per hour. When we go slower, we get a bit better mileage, as you would expect.

Winter Harbor on the Erie had the least expensive diesel on the trip. It was the only place under $4 per gallon that we saw the entire trip.

Maintenance and repair: We spent some before we left Washburn Marina on things like electronics and new batteries, but once underway, there have been no big repair expenses. The little things have added up, though! It looks like about $3500 on things like a new tablet for navigation, dock lines, oil, coolant, seal for toilet, new stripper for windlass, two power washers, subscriptions for a couple of apps, seatow insurance, and the like.

We do have some bigger repairs we’ve saved for this winter. We are having the canvas and eisenglass replaced on the boat. We’re having the generator looked at…we did this trip without a working generator because the last place that looked at it couldn’t fit us in for a few months and we would have lost the whole season. The fridge only works on AC, not on DC, so we’re having that repaired.

Cruising Kitty : This budget category is for things like tips, laundry, ice, ice cream, museum fees, uber rides. For budget purposes, we consider it “spent” when we withdraw it from the bank and put the cash in our wallets. We’ve averaged ~$200 per month. More when we were in Washington, DC. It will probably go up this next year as we started the trip with a large pile of $5 bills which we had been collecting from rolling coins over the past several years. That pile is now gone.

Food and Entertainment: For the past 15 years, we’ve used the Dave Ramsey method of budgeting, which is to give each dollar a name before the month begins. “Tell your money where to go or you will wonder where it went.” So for 15 years, we’ve been very diligent about where each dollar goes. It is what has allowed us to save up for this boat and this trip.

For the last 15 years, we’ve used the cash envelope system for groceries and entertainment. Our food budget has been $120 per week and our entertainment budget $20 per week. We put the cash into envelopes and used that to pay for food and restaurants. You can easily tell how much money is left when it is cash in an envelope. That has not been possible on this trip. We’ve mostly used credit/debit cards for groceries. You have to when you do any kind of ordering online for pick-up or delivery. It is not as easy to keep track of the spend with cards. End result, our grocery spending has gone from ~$500/month to between $550 and $650. The fact that we don’t have our normal low-cost grocery store handy could account for some of the increase.

Fresh veggies in a specialty store in Canada 🇨🇦

We have not eaten out much, and the entertainment costs have averaged around $140 per month, which is up a bit from $80 – $100 per month previously. We may be more tempted to eat out next year when we have a lot of other loopers in port with us. One thing we’ve learned, the restaurants nearest the water are among the most expensive! When you have no car, your dining-out options are limited (especially if you are trying to be budget conscious.)

On this trip, we have not always been able to tell our money where to go, which is kind of hard for a budget nerd like me (Brenda). We cannot control the weather days that we need to pay for a marina. We cannot control when something breaks. We can only control what we can control. We just do the best we can. And enjoy the ride.

2 Replies to “Stats of our 2023 trip – including costs”

  1. This sounds almost like an RV. (I.e. our generator just quit again, & the inverter quit also) luckily we have a spare generator, a small one just to charge the batteries. Borrowed a smaller inverter until I find a good used one. Gas has been a little cheaper this year than last year. Have fun you guys, uncle Rick and Paula

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