How the Numbers Stacked Up

NOTE: All numbers in Australian Dollars for USA readers simply reduce numbers by 30% to get to US$.

Every year I review the costs involved in running and maintaining Pendana for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I am a firm believer that all expenses should be budgeted for and secondly, I am often asked by folks (actually, it is the question I am asked most) wanting to get into boating, “How much does it all cost?”  So with this in mind here is how this year’s numbers stacked up compared to the previous three years.

Budget vs Actual – Remember these are AUD$

As you can easily see we blew the budget this year by a much larger margin than any other year.

Budget vs Actual Bar Chart

Actual spend over the last four years ( /- 5%)

Note: As expense categories in 2015 have changed comparison is difficult.  Apologies in advance.

Much of the over-spend in 2015 was due to maintenance with a large portion of the overall maintenance expense being preventative maintenance.  The fact is, Pendana is now in much better shape than she has ever been and certainly in better shape than when she left Australian shores.

Maintenance Overspend

The main overspend in this category came directly from Air-conditioning (20K), New outside cushions (4.5K), new helm chair parts (2K), new washing machine (4.5K), new shore power cables (3.5k), new engine dampener (5K), new inverters ($6.5K), new batteries (9K), jet ski foredeck supports (2.5K), new stabilizer rams (5K) which, give or take, equates to the $60K overspend in this category.

Flights and Accommodation

The main overspend in this category comes directly from our return trip to Australia early next year.  This equates to almost $20K of the overspend and is more a timing of expense issue than a real overspend.


The main overspend in this category comes directly from setting up our US mobile phones with the balance of the overspend coming from our satellite communications during the months of June and July, accounting for a $3.5K overspend in this category.

All other items came within budget or slightly under.

So what does this all mean? Well, including all of our annual expenses it means that:

From Sydney to Honolulu cost $289.36 per hour or $7,012.23 per day, or $4.83 per minute while at sea – I know not fair but a bit of fun. FYI the transit took 727 hours or 30.2 days!

We travelled some 5,400nms meaning that each nautical mile cost $38.96

Each day we were away between Sydney and Hilo cost $3,627.02 per day (58 days)

Average annual expenses over the four years is now running at $167,000.00pa

This year we spent $575.00 per day, each day, three hundred and sixty five times!

I realise some of the above sound-bites are a ridiculous comparison, as full year costs are included, but as I said, just a bit of fun with the numbers, nothing more!

As I have always said, buying a boat is one thing, maintaining it and running it is another thing altogether.  I have also said that to run one of these boats comes in at between 5-10% per annum of its value and I stand by this rough estimation and the numbers so far prove it.  One can easily see that taking on a boat of this type, requires a real commitment to fund her and maintain her.

For those out there that who possess a little more electrical and general maintenance skill than I, you could potentially shave $20K from the overall number as well as another $10K in one particular spare part I didn’t need to buy, but realistically no more than that.  You simply can’t cut the bill in half and think you will be ok. The reality is that these boats are complex machines with key areas of competence required in electronics, I.T., mechanics, plumbing, navigation, customs entry requirements, pilotage and on and on it goes.  There are only maybe two or three Nordhavn owners that I know who currently possess all the skills required out of the hundreds going to sea!  So a word to the wise, do not under-estimate the costs involved of running a boat if you want to own it longer than a year or not go broke!

So the average annual expense per year to run Pendana is now A$167,000.00/US$116,000.00 (after tax dollars) not including food, entertainment, school fees, fuel for the car, clothes, doctors, dentists and the list goes on (easily another $100K ).  While there is no doubt that this is a material number it is a number that some of my fellow Nordhavn owners in larger models, would no doubt love to see on their spreadsheets.  I remember Claire and I looking at the Nordhavn 86 and thinking emm that would be nice, until the reality of between half a million and a million dollars per year to run the thing would cost.  Sadly, our pockets are simply not deep enough! 

While I do not wish to dissuade people from following their dreams, after all, we are a long time dead…..I think it is important to have some sense of what these boats require in real terms before it all ends in tears.  There is no doubt that we wouldn’t have our lives any other way as the freedom we experience from the material world is life giving.  After-all, it’s the time we now have to spend together (priceless), the time spent travelling and exploring our world and the time spent meeting new and exciting people which is what really satisfies the soul.  Not, and I repeat NOT, the material trappings of the modern world.
To have a larger home, a faster car, a smarter watch, a better handbag, the latest shoes, brand name clothes or to collect ‘things’ for the sake of it is, to completely miss the point. To quote Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” I have often said, and continue to say, life is for living and life can only be truly lived by the brave who are prepared to challenge life’s norms rather than succumb to them.

Challenging life’s norms is for Claire and I, something we have always done and I guess we will always swim against the tide.  Don’t get me wrong, this life of ours, this brave life of ours is not without its problems.  Four people, on a boat with limited space is sometimes a recipe for disaster.  Have there been arguments? Sure there have.  Is it a challenge living in a confined space?  Yes, no doubt about it.  Do we miss our friends?  Of course we do.  Would we have it any other way? No.  The fact is we struggle with the same things most families do and we celebrate and enjoy the same things as well.  With one teenage daughter and one soon to be a teenager there are the inevitable conflicts that I believe everyone has to deal with. As such, doing what we do does not make us the perfect family – far from it – but it does make us a real family.

When we all think back to our land based life we laugh and find it hard to comprehend that we spent as little time together, as a family, as we did.  Busy with this and that doing the school runs, after school activities, tennis lessons, music lessons, drop offs for sleepovers and play dates etc, lunches, brunches and whatever else.  Going to Bunnings / Home Depot to see what was new and the latest must have tool or simply filling our days with more of nothing.  We are now a family, and I know for me personally, I now know my children better than I ever had before and surely that has to be a good thing?  I now have the time to spend talking with Abi for hours on end as we discuss everything from her latest science experiment to why she can’t learn to drive in the US (she, is still struggling with the concept that she can’t get a social security number!!).  Bianca is doing things we never thought possible and is always so excited to help out in the engine room! Yes!  Can you believe it? That being said, she is more excited by going to the beach with Claire.  Claire, well she now has more time on her hands than even she thought possible.  Time to read, time to spend with the much loved cats, going to the beach, going for walks and time to spend with all of us in abundance is what she now has.  For me, well, there is always something to do on the boat and the view is always pretty stunning.  To have loved ones always close and available; well, that is priceless.  So is it all worth it? Yes!

The Year That Was…….

2015 Miracle of the Year!

Removing broken bolt from stabilizer mount.

2015 Most Memorable Moment

Crossing the Equator

2015 Most Frustrating Moment

Trying to fix the potentiometer on stabilizer

2015 Best Sea Photo

In reality it was much bigger than it looks here

2015 Best Photo of more than one Nordhavn

Infinity and Pendana together in the Port of Hilo

2015 Biggest Fish Caught

Actually heading should read, “The only fish caught”!

2015 Best Anchorage

Musket Cove, Fiji

2015 Scariest Moment

Refuelling in Kiribati alongside the jetty from hell!

2015 Word of the Year – ‘Mermaid’

‘Mermaid’ Word created by Martin from the Chasse Spleen – Lots of mermaids passing Pendana each day here in Waikiki that’s for sure!

2015 Best Sunset Photo

Waikiki Yacht Club

2015 Best Burger

Cheesecake Factory

2015 Worst Job of Year

Replacing the Fresh Water Pump -eleven hours in all for a job that should have taken one!

2015 Sadness Moment

Saying goodbye to our precious, Caesar The Magnificent

Pendana is no doubt in better shape now than when we left Sydney and my hope is that next year we can keep our expenses under $175K, a little higher than I would like but next year we will be hauling Pendana out of the water and doing a wide range of jobs to renew her and prepare her for the next few years of travel.

Above is the list of jobs as it stands right now for October next year in Seattle

From all of us aboard Pendana may we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a very happy and healthy New Year.

Pendana ready for Christmas – Mele Kalikimaka!

Stay safe


6 thoughts on “How the Numbers Stacked Up”

  1. James Blumentrath

    SUBJECT: Re: How the Numbers Stacked Up
    Hi James,
    I just wanted to say thank you for sharing all of your
    experiences/adventures aboard Pendana. I”ve been a Novdhavn-o-holic for
    about 5 years now, but only started following owner blogs about 2 years ago
    having found yours less than a year ago. I now follow 4 blogs regularly and
    your”s has become my favourite. I appreciate that there are few subjects
    you don”t write about, providing us landlocked observers with what I
    believe is a representative picture of what it”s like to travel the world
    on a boat. Your frank writing style and your sense of humour is very much
    enjoyed and I eagerly look forward to each update you send out. Wishing you
    and your family all the best in 2016, from my family (from Peace River,
    Alberta) to yours, Merry Christmas and safe travels.
    James Blumentrath


    James, thank you for your lovely email. I am glad you enjoy the blog, sometimes I wonder if I share too much but often think back to our time before Pendana and write stuff that I would have wanted to see – look forward to one day seeing you on the water!!! have a lovely Christmas and New Year. From all those aboard Pendana.

  2. SUBJECT: Enjoy your Pendana blogs
    Hello James,
    I look forward to receiving your blogs and read them with great interest, thank you.
    On reading your latest blog I note that you have “Polish Boat” on the Pendana to do list and I think you may be interested in the following article.
    We have a Beneteau 473 and like Pendana she requires a regular polish to keep up her appearance. I came upon this article in “Cruising Helmsman” and thought the product was worth a try, anything to make life easier, so I purchased a 250ml bottle to trial it.
    In short, the results are amazing, I can”t swear as to longevity of the finish as yet as this was applied only one week ago. I intend to purchase a larger quantity allowing the complete hull and top sides to be done as the finish is so good with a lot less work.
    I know from your blogs that you are always on the lookout for innovative products ( I purchased a bottle of Noflex Digestor after reading about it in your blog, worked a treat! ) and recommend you give this a try on a test area and see the results for yourself.
    All the best to you and your family for the festive season.
    Cheers, Sam Davis
    P.S. I have no affiliation with the product manufacturer nor distributor, the first I saw of this was in the attached article.
    Sent from my iPad


    Thank you Sam, will check it out.

  3. James,
    Thanks for the post on the annual $$ numbers. I think your ‘normal’ year is pretty close to me in USD. However I do a heck of a lot of the maintenance/upgrades myself and so that shows a little in my annual costs. However I don’t actually know how much I spend per year, as if I did, I think I would get into a depression! For me its better not to know!!!! I sleep better that way….
    I’m sure if I did the same analysis as you and looked at the opportunity cost for this cash, then I think big boat cruising stack up OK.
    Firstly, not all your $$ are burnt as expenses. Some actually are held as capital improvements, ie better resale value for your boat. So maybe its not quite as bad as you think.
    Secondly, if you went on a 6 month travelling holiday with the family travelling in commercial jets and staying in hotels, what would be the cost there?. Not much less I’m sure. And the relaxing time aboard not dealing with endless check-in counters and poorly hotels?…..Priceless!! Give my cruising anytime.
    Sure it would be easy to save money if you got a smaller boat, however mutiny of the family on the high seas is far more likely in this scenario and so the money ‘saved’ is not worth it.
    In my own case we had a marvellous summer cruising with friends around the Channel Islands (California). My daughter will be off to college soon and when she is gone, I will be SOOO glad I spent the quality time with her and my wife when I had the chance. If she inherits a little less she will not hate me for it!! I’m sure your family will feel the same when years later they look back at the photos.
    So thanks again for your great blog and looking forward to a beer when you cruise into Sausalito. If you need a crew for the leg, give me a holler.


    Hey Peter, good to hear from you and no complaints over here, we are having a ball. Look forward to catching up in SF in 2017 and look forward to seeing your lovely boat as well.

  4. Geoff Stanfield

    SUBJECT: RE: How the Numbers Stacked Up

    Hi Claire, James, Abi and Bianca,

    Thank you for your entertaining blog. It has been so interesting to follow your fantastic experiences. None of which can be given a monetary value. Life must seem like one long holiday.

    I know you will be busy when you come to Australia in January but if you have time we would like to invite you for a meal here. We look forward to seeing you again.


    Heather and Geoff.

    From: http://WWW.PENDANABLOG.COM [mailto:[…]]
    Sent: Tuesday, 8 December 2015 5:26 AM
    To: gst32516@o…
    Subject: How the Numbers Stacked Up

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