Cost Control While Cruising the Bahamas

27 Jan

Now that we’ve been down in the islands for a few months, we’re getting an idea of what it costs to cruise down here. Like always, its more than we thought. As a general rule, everything is twice as expensive as it is in the mainland US. Drinking or eating out can be prohibitively expensive if you make a habit of it. For most people traveling in the Bahamas the cost of things is not a big deal because they are “on vacation”. However since we happen to live full time down here at the moment we have to make every dollar count. I’ve highlighted a few areas where we’ve been able to save a good amount of money and still live the good life.


We installed a 40 gallon an hour watermaker this fall. It’s my favorite mechanical contraption on the boat at the moment. The high output means we only have to run it about 2 hours a week to supply all the water we need. Rachel and I take showers every day, wash dishes, and do laundry on the boat. While running, the motor is burning 1/2 gallon an hour and supplying all the power to run the system plus charging our batteries. Theres no jerry jugging water and no paying .40 a gallon for RO water at the marina. Most of all, we don’t have to limit our stay in a secluded spot to go find freshwater! It allows us to remain off grid until our propane, diesel, or food runs out. I’ll post more about this in the future. 

Laundry on the boat

The highest price we’ve seen for laundry in the Bahamas is $15 for 1 load, wash and dry. The normal is about $7.5 per load, wash and dry. We have a double sink in the galley which doubles as a nice wash bin. We hang everything on the dyneema lifelines and let the wind (which we’ve had no shortage of) do the drying for us. We’ve still paid for laundry on occasion when we didn’t have the weather to dry anything or when the cost was reasonable.

Making bread

While the bread made locally in the Bahamas is very good, its to expensive for the rate we use it. We’ve seen it from $3-$7 a loaf. I’ve been making bread aboard for about $0.75  a loaf. Plus, depending on my mood I can make a tray of cinnamon buns or a bagful of rolls for sandwiches. The 80 degree climate makes the yeast extremely enthusiastic about propping up the dough and the entire process from start to finish takes about 6 hours.

Trading sewing work for beer

Rachel does all the canvas work on the boat. She’s made beautiful cushions for the cabin, a dodger and all the sail covers. When hanging out with other cruisers this topic eventually comes up and once others learn we have a machine on board we are inevitably asked to repair an awning or a flag. Since beer is absurdly expensive and we like beer, a trade is set up and we repair (insert item here). We give them their restitched item and they give us the beer. Everyones happy!

Supplementing seafood in our diet

Ah yes, the storied idea of living off the sea, getting back to those hunter gatherer beginnings, going native on that sh*t.

But really, its not too difficult to snag some snapper or grouper down here in the islands and the lobster are actually pretty easy to catch if you can find them. Using a Hawaiian sling is a little bit of a pain but as I’ve said before its kinda like bow hunting. Beyond that, if your fishing is unsuccessful you’ve still got some good exercise and seen some cool reef.

Most fish you’ll spear and that hang out in the reef that you can get too are the pan frying size. This is not terrible because bigger fish have an increased risk of ciguatera poisoning. If you wanted to you might be able to eat fish every night. We find that 1-2 nights of fish or lobster a week is enough for us.

Bringing along coolers/pre-gaming on the boat.

This is something my friends and I used to do back home. Before we got to the bar we drink 1-2 drinks with friends then head over. Now when we get there we’re on everyones level who’s been drinking for the last 2 hours but we avoid the $40 tab that comes with it. With 1 or 2 more drinks we’re now good to go and end up spending half the money for the same amount of fun.

We also bring coolers sometimes depending on the place and function. Most of the time its other cruisers so everyone has their own supply.  Some times its some super yacht marina party and I figure theres enough rich people buying drinks around to support the bar. We always end up spending a little money wherever we end up but the point is to try and minimize the expense without minimizing the fun.

Provisioning before you reach the islands

This is a no brainer but I still think some people might have illusions of supermarkets spread throughout the islands. Unless you’re in the major towns in the Bahamas there is not much in the way of provisioning. If there is a small store it will only have fresh items on days when the mail boat arrives. Expect to pay triple what you pay in the states. We’ve seen a case of beer (24) anywhere from $67 to $44. If we did it again we would have filled every nook and cranny of our boat with beer. Especially some good strong ales that you simply cannot find outside the states. How I miss my IPA’s and Imperial stouts!

Hopefully these ideas will let you better prepare for your own Bahamas trip. Let me know some good ideas you’ve found for saving money while cruising.



This article was syndicated from Cruising – Beautiful Crazy Happiness


  1. Glenn Packer

    Much of your comments revolve around booze…just make it….a small bag of sugar , cornmeal and yeast cant be that difficult. anyone willing to pay 3 dollars for a can of beer needs rehab

  2. Lee & Rachel

    Indeed it is Joe. The pump is mounted under the PTO of the engine and attached by a standard v-belt. The pump has an electromagnetic clutch. Most of the time it just freewheels. I built it for around $3700.

  3. Doreen Purcell

    Very impressed with your writings, Lee. You certainly are doing beautifully with you and your wife “Living the dream”

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