So, here's the thing whether you have a CAL 20, a Catalina 36, or insert whatever your VolksCruiser of choice happens to be, cruising on $500 a month in a sustainable fashion is going to be really problematic and beyond most people's abilities.
The question is, why are we bothering to talk about a $500 a month budget anyway?
Well, for one, $500 is a nice round number that people can get their head around, secondly since I first started cruising back in the 1970's (jeez that just made me feel ancient) there has always been the perennial question of whether you can cruise on $500 a month topic/argument buzzing away in the background, and lastly, because people still keep asking whether or not they can cruise on $500 a month or not so it's a good place to start...
Oh yeah, I also admit to the fact that the very idea of a $500 a month cruising budget really, really makes a certain kind of person foam at the mouth and just generally messes with their head so I sorta/kinda enjoy the resulting carnage. Call it a guilty pleasure.
The other thing we need to talk about is the difference between living aboard a boat and cruising aboard a boat. You can be a cheapseats live aboard or a cheapseats cruiser but the two are poles apart and completely different animals. For instance, one email in my box this morning complained that the $500 budget was impossible because, where he lives (on a boat I surmise), he regularly spends more than $300 a month on car related expenses (gas/parking/insurance/etc) which is not the sort of expense issues a cruiser has to deal with at all.
Cruising on any budget is generally based on a nomadic mindset following the path of least resistance and advantage. Let me repeat that...
a nomadic mindset following the path of least resistance and advantage
As a rule we tend to prefer to sail to locations that are in a favorable direction (wind and tide being our friend), have a favorable climate (no heating bills!), and, most of us, more often than not, to places where our money goes further. For a cheapseats cruiser, the nomadic mindset needs to be highly attuned to the level of a Jedi Master but they're not really doing anything all that different than other cruisers. Maybe just a bit more intense on the details because they can't afford to slip over to the dark side of unsustainable spending.
Which is why we're talking budgets and as the $500 a month budget is so difficult to attain in a sustainable manner it is also a great teaching tool to see where the money goes and why...
More soon come about how the VolksCruiser factors in to the mix.