Kitty Master Checklist
Congratulations Kitty Master!
You volunteered (or perhaps were volun-told) to be your boat’s Kitty Master! (🐱 meow!) In olden seafaring days, this person was often called the “purser” and they had the important job of controlling the boat’s purse on the voyage: buying and selling food and drink, candles, bedding, and anything else needed by the crew on the ship.
Having one person take care of group expenses will help you and everyone on your boat have a fun, stress-free vacation. The most important thing is to make sure everyone agrees on boat expenses that come out of the kitty—remember they’re for everyone.
We’ve made this handy 6-step checklist to help guide you based on the experience of previous Kitty Masters. Let us know if you also pick up any useful tips we can add to future guides!
Ready? Let's get started!
1. Download Splitwise. Make sure the rest of your crew also download Splitwise. There are several apps that can help keep track of group expenses, but we’ve been happy with this one. It’s free and simple, so we encourage everyone on our trips to use it.
2. Estimate budget. Don't put this in Splitwise (that's where you'll keep track of actual expenses as they happen), but make a estimate of how much your boat will spend. If you don't want to be too detailed, simply have everyone contribute $350. If you want to be a bit more sophisticated, here’s our suggestion of common expenses (as well as some info about each item) and how much you might budget for them. It's not necessary to be too detailed as long as you cover the major categories. Poll your crew to see if they would like more or less of some things:
(a) Meals aboard: Talk to your chef and you can plan this out in advance. We help with a suggested menu and make a provisions order so they are on your boat when you get to the marina! Easy! Don’t forget to order food for your skipper as well.
(b) Alcohol: Talk to your crew about their drinking habits. Those who don’t drink or drink sparingly shouldn’t feel pressure to pay for everyone else’s alcohol. This will also be ordered with your provisions and on the boat when you arrive.
(c) Boat wifi: We encourage every boat to have wifi—how else will you make all your friends jealous of your amazing Instagram feed?! It’s also how we will share information with the group of boats throughout the week. We can provide a wireless hotspot (although coverage may be weak away from shore). Someone on your crew might already have an international hotspot or SIM card and be willing to share it (but it’s nice to chip in to defray their cost).
(d) Mooring fees: At most harbors we will tie up to a mooring buoy, which usually costs about $20 /night. At some harbors it is fun to dock in the marina, but that will be more expensive (and varies depending on the marina, but expect $60 /night).
(e) Group meals onshore: Do you hate splitting the bill at the end of a fabulous meal? Often it’s easier to just split it evenly. Some boats choose to have this come out of the kitty (although some boats prefer to keep dinners separate). Ask your boat how they would like to handle this. Make sure the kitty only covers meals the whole crew goes to (and where the whole crew eats about the same) so it stays even and fair. If there’s doubt, the kitty shouldn’t be used.
(f) Flag and boat decorations: It’s always fun to have a decorated boat. Sometimes each crew member will bring a few items, or sometimes you can add this to the kitty.
(g) Tip: Your skipper will be working hard all week to keep the trip safe and fun. And if your boat has a host / chef, they also made the extra effort. So make sure that work doesn’t go unappreciated—especially if he (or she) goes the extra nautical mile! A general rule of thumb is 10-15% for your skipper and 10-15% for your host.
(h) Miscellaneous: It’s always better to have extra in the kitty, rather than have to collect more mid-trip.
3. Pass the collection plate. Usually about $350 per person should cover most expenses (and will leave you with a little leftover at the end, which is better than having to collect more mid-trip). If you want to be more precise, total up the whole boat’s budget, and divide by the number of crew (excluding your skipper). Ask everyone to contribute that amount to you (the kitty master) in whatever way makes the most sense. We recommend using Venmo or PayPal (but there’s plenty of mobile payment apps, or maybe you can be really old-fashioned and collect paper money).
4. Mark people as paid. After people send you money, they should add their payment on Splitwise. Splitwise will show you as having a debt to them.
5. Document expenses in Splitwise. Each time you pay for something, put it in Splitwise. Be careful of currency conversion. We recommend checking your bank account online so all your expenses are tracked in dollars, but make sure you’re consistent.
6. Reimburse (or collect extra). At the end of the trip, if you’ve spent less than your budget, Splitwise will show how much you owe back to each of the crew. If you’ve spent more, Splitwise will show how much the crew owe you. Settle up any final payments so you all can get back to uploading all your amazing pictures to social media!
Ant that's it! Now go have fun!