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Pretty much everyone knows that simply purchasing a boat is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to funds outlay. Recognizing that many repair jobs are measured in “boat bucks,” one of which is, for the uninitiated, the equivalent of a thousand dollars, you can get a scale by which to measure the potential for spending. One thing that is not more expensive for cruisers though, at least in the lower latitudes, is clothing. That is, it’s not if you run in the same circles that we do*.

In the tropics most cruisers live in shorts and T-shirts, flip flops and bathing suits. There is also none of the pressure that North American society imposes to always be wearing something different, if not new. I’m betting that we have countless friends who, each time we see them, would be wearing one of just a couple different outfits. I can’t tell you for sure though because the truth is, no one pays attention. Ever!

We’re not cheap, we’re just smart, like Facebook’s Zuckerberg

Just the other day, Rebecca and I were talking about how old some of our clothing is, comparing notes to see which one of us was the “winner,” the person with the oldest item. I won’t go into specifics but I can tell you that we each own articles of clothing that are over a decade old, ones that we wear on a regular basis. Sure, some things do get worn out by constant use – a boat’s non-skid surface is particularly hard on the backside of board shorts – but when no one cares about brand names, they can be replaced relatively inexpensively. Definitely no boat bucks required!

*Note: If you run with the megayacht crowd, or feel that you need to wear nautically-branded, performance attire made by Gill, etc., you can pretty much disregard the savings aspect of this post.


  1. “In the tropics most cruisers live in shorts and t shirts”? Maybe where you are. Downunder we seem to get by with less than that although there is the added cost of sunburn lotion.

  2. Ah…that’s our dream! As our boat is based out of Seward, Alaska, it is not our current reality!

  3. The boat clothing budget here in Chicago is a bit on the pricey side. I don’t suppose I’ll be needing the foulies much, or the many, many layers of performance fleeces once we get down there. But I bet a good set of foulies is still needed from time to time on crossings. I remember a gulf crossing 2 years ago when I was wearing every bit of foul-weather gear I owned, tops and bib bottoms, and all my fleece mid-layers on a 12-4am watch. I was pretty comfortable but it would have been darn chilly without all of it.

    • I agree that it can be cool on night passages. We wear sweaters or jackets even down here. That’s still at least 10? too far north though.

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