Many couples or individuals dream of chucking the rat race, leaving behind their cubicles or offices, and running away to sail the seas. Faraway visions of tropical waters, diverse cultures, and adventure on the high seas. This was our dream and we made it happen. If we did it, you can too. Here’s how:
Plan Smaller Steps to the Larger Goal– We knew we wanted to retire early, buy a boat, and take off. So we made a list of what we needed to do (smaller steps) to reach the larger goal.
Our list included taking a variety of sailing classes, and cruising skills. We took a wide range of classes from Basic Sailing, Navigation, Bareboat Cruising, Docking and Anchoring, Offshore Cruising, Sail Repair, Sail Trim, Marine Weather, and Diesel Engines. In a few weeks, I am taking a class on refinishing wood for boats. You never stop learning.
We also read everything we could to feed the dream and educate ourselves. We also took bareboat chartering vacations (bareboat means you run the boat yourself) to gain more experience. We bought a small sailboat to practice our skills, too. In fact, we still own that O’Day 23 and store it at our home in California.
Plan Your Financial Goals– If you do a great job managing your finances on land, then you will most likely know to make cruising work for you financially You are ahead already.
There are many people out cruising on a wide variety of budgets- which is great! Many younger people are out cruising on budget sailboats. This is wonderful, but please do not cut corners on safety items. I cringe when I see cruisers with their VLOG channels with state of the art drones and cameras. However, they do not even have an EPIRB or Life Raft or other basic safety equipments.
There are no right or wrong way to approach funding your cruising dream. Many cruisers are very creative with the cruising kitty and saving money. Some cruisers save up for their adventures and some sell everything and buy a boat. There are even some cruisers that want you to fund their travels, so they ask for donations. On the flip side are trust fund cruisers (members of the lucky sperm club) who have large boats and crew to wait on them. Most people out cruising are somewhere in between the extremes.
Joe and I did it this way- we lived below our means, saved, paid off our home in California, then saved to pay cash for our Taswell 43 sailboat. It was at this point that we retired and started searching for a boat. This way worked for us, but it did involve pushing our dream out until we were financially ready.
Hint: To cruise, you really need to understand finances. Or, you won’t be cruising for very long as your money will run out.
Buying a Boat– Your budget will dictate which sailboat you buy and the features. To pay cash for your boat versus obtaining a loan are other considerations. Some people sell their house and buy a boat. In financial terms, this is trading an appreciating asset (a house) for a depreciating one (boat). Some people rent out their homes or properties and use this income to cruise. No matter how you manage to swing it, cruising as a lifestyle is worth planning for. After all, there are no guarantees in life and you only live once.
The way that Joe and I decided on which boat to buy involved each individually making a list of what features were important. Top of my list was a center cockpit because it allowed a center line queen master cabin in the back of the boat and privacy from Ethan’s cabin. Joe’s list was center cockpit for better access to the engine, a skeg hung rudder or partial skeg rudder for safety- less likely to lose your rudder. Both agreed it had to be a proven offshore sail cruiser. The sturdy Taswell 43 fit all our criteria.
On the topic of buying your dream boat, TJ and Deb Akey wrote a good book titled How NOT to Buy a Cruising Boat. You can buy it on amazon and you will be glad that you did.
Move aboard and plan your adventure! Research will be your friend as you plan to move aboard. I found Carolyn Shearlock’s The Boat Galley website to be a wealth of information.
The mistake I made was to bring too much stuff out to Florida when we moved aboard. I ended up giving away many items including a bread maker, instapot, suitcases, clothes, and food that we really didn’t need or eat. Every year, as Ethan grows, I donate toys, books, clothes and shoes to a local church for the children. I find I am happiest when we have less stuff onboard.
If you know the cruising route you plan to take, be sure to have both electronic and paper charts. Cruising guides for your area will be invaluable. Join a Facebook group for where you plan to go, as other cruisers are a wealth of information.
Right now, we are planning our route for the next season and planning on what to fly out with. We usually fly out with 4-6 duffel bags. I bring clothes, dehydrated vegetables and other food you can’t get in our cruising area, Ethan’s school curriculum and boat parts. This list goes on. If something goes on the boat, something has to come off. Its a good rule to have.
I hope you have enjoyed a bit of insight on the cruising lifestyle. If you have any questions, just leave me a comment. Fair Winds, Carla