Don’t miss PART 1 of this series: Earning to Sail, Sailing to Earn
Earning a modest living while cruising the world has never been easier or more fun. The Internet has truly freed us. What is geo-location anymore? For many of us, it is a joke. âAnyone who still has to actually be somewhereâhas missed the whole concept of cyberspace,â one shipboard cyber artist recently told me. âAnd having a physical address is so yesterday!â
It is true.
I do commercial writing for folks who have no idea Iâm rolling around naked on a small boat in the Roaring Forties. I have a friend who codes computer games in his aft cabin, another who is the most respected actuarial (insurance life-span) number cruncher in London. (Well, not in Londonâbut they donât know he hangs in Musket Cove, Fiji.)
Teachers and tutors and coaches are all in demand. I write these words from Clarkes Court Bay in Grenada. Within a short dinghy drive are exercise, yoga, cooking, and Tai Chi classesâall organized by for-profit, live-aboard instructors.
One woman aboard an American yacht is booking a dozen taxi tours a weekâall for a fee, of course. (She advertises daily, without costs, on the 7:30 VHF net on Channel 66.)
â¦ want to join a âfriendlyâ poker game? Wanna make it more interesting? (Watch your wallet!)
Yachties love to learn stuffâand who knows this better than their fellow yachties? Have you always wanted to know how to take good quality underwater photos? Or how to play steel pans? How to cook the local dishes? Which roadside spice is which?
Thereâs a yachtie in Grenada who is willing to helpâfor a small âno receiptâ fee.
Why, thereâs even a boring writer who will teach others how to write boring proseâfor an exciting number of freedom chips.
My favorite âsailing professionalâ was a balloon-twister from Australiaâwho dressed like a clown, twisted balloons, and was making money hand-over-fist!
Many yachties have TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificatesâall the better to teach hardworking Asians, many of whom are desperate to learn English.
With the number of live-aboard children growing each yearâso does the demand for sailing tutors. Many âformer teachersâ have morphed into sailing tutorsâlaboring to keep the sailing Calvert kids on-track. (Tutors, of course, free up the parents as well.)
Yes, teachers have a lot of competition in LA, NYC, and Chicagoâbut in Chagos or the Tuamotus, not-so-much.
The Nimble Navigator teaches just thatâwe saw him grabbing handfuls of cash in both the Canaries and Sint Maarten this year. (He anchors his boat just in front of the local sailorâs barâand word spreads fast that heâs in town.)
I was amused to discover the yacht Shoe String was owned by a former cobblerâwho was now sailing on the money he earns from lacing kid glove leather to wheels, making custom turnbuckle covers, and creating other fancy rope-and-leather work aboard.
The number of professions that can be engaged in aboard is almost limitless. Barbi Devine (she is divine!) refused to stop teaching piano when her hubby lured her aboard their Whitby 42âwhich now has a state-of-the-art Roland piano built right in.
Ann Miller, the famous marine watercolorist, made her living off her art for many yearsâkeeping the husband and three children busy wrapping and shipping her delicate work all over the world.
Floating jewelers abound. When I manufactured jewelry aboard Corina in the late 1960sâI couldnât make it fast enough. So, if you wanted to buy an original Goodlander piece, you had to not only payâbut help make it! (At first, I thought my customers would balkânot so! They wanted to be a part of the coolest, silliest scene in Saugatuck, Michiganâand they were.)
We know a very well-known Caribbean sailor who is also a (less well-known) professional transvestiteâwho is constantly moaning about how difficult is to keep his gowns nice. (He shock-cords them while on passage, so they donât chafe.)
A lot of boaters earn in unusual ways. For instance, I just sold my Hughes 38 to a male stripper â¦ who offered a jock-strap of hundreds in payment.
Thereâs a ton of other, more traditional yachtie jobs: I often survey boats for peopleâespecially if they want a thumbs down! Yacht delivery jobs are often hired on a âwhoâs aroundâ basisâ(often with horrible results).
Larry Pardey, of course, has worked as a âhave saw & caulking mallet; will travelâ shipwright to finance his voyages. (Lin wields the pen, not the adze!)
Many copy editors, prose editors, and proofreaders are going mobile. One of the publications that Iâve worked with for many yearsâdoesnât really exist anywhere specific anymore. The editor is sailing in one country, the graphic designer is windsurfing in another, and the proofreader is kayaking in a third. No, the land-locked person mailing out the subscriptions has never met anyone they work forâand never will.
If large flourishing businesses donât need a physical addressâwhy do you?
Lots of yachties play musicâfor food, drinks, or cash money. Some work as buskers when brokeâespecially in New Zealand, where Kiwis like street musicians so much that they have an annual festival for them.
We know a number of sailing divers who supplement their cruising by collecting and selling tropical fishâthe real secret here isnât catching the fish, itâs logistically getting them to their buyer alive. (âI spend more time in airports than in the water,â lamented our friend.)
Much of Asia hasnât gotten the memo thereâs a world-wide recessionâand are currently expanding their exports like crazy. This often means they need translators and proofreaders and copy editors to produce their manualsâand they also need American-style models (for ads, videos, etc).
Often, Asian advertising companies seek Western models in marinasâwhich makes sense. We know two couples (handsome, mid-30s) who are refilling the cruising kitty in Hong Kong and Singapore by being both hardworking and photogenic.
We are also friends with a French dentist who travels to the more remote Pacific islands aboard his yachtâand gives high quality dental care five days a week to those who can afford it, and accepts fish and coconuts on the weekends for those who canât.
Thereâs nothing on the electrical side of a marine generator that you canât learn in a day or two. (The diesel engine is, of course, another matter.)
A growing number of floating repairmen specialize: one services a specific watermaker, another interfaces a certain type of NEMA instrument line, yet a third specializes in windlass rebuilds.
Weâve only run into one RIB (rigid inflatable boat) rebuilder in our travelsâbut he was booked until the Second Coming.
My British sailing buddy Peter Thurlow of Antares fixes outboards as he wanders the Atlantic basin. I always thought that might be complicated and require a lot of tools and partsâbut he disagrees. âMostly, I drain the water out of carburetors,â he says. âOccasionally, something is really wrongâbut 98% of the time, it is water in the carb!â
I used to swing compasses (with the WWII Astrocompass my father passed on to me) and adjust sextantsâneither of which will make you rich today.
Right now, the hottest âhandy manâ on the waterfront is the âmarine refrigeration dudeâ even if heâs only been on a boat once or twice. Ditto, gel-coat toucher-uppers. (And for the record,âone of the most popular refrigeration repairmen is a she!)
If youâre handy with tools and want no competition, you can emulate my buddy Robin, the famous âHead Hunterâ of Floridaâwho reports his marine job stinks, even though heâs #1 in a #2 business!
Doing transom lettering isnât such a stretch for many graphic artistsânor is hair-cutting.
One yacht-addled âhair stylistâ in Opua, New Zealand, used to see a dozen customers a day behind the marina officeâand make a fortune from the ladies. (Yes, good patter and a sympathetic ear are important.)
In essence, the ability to earn money while sailing around the worldâis only limited by oneâs imagination, grit, and sweat.
Some people, of course, bristle at the above. They think only professional people who have amassed sizable fortunes should be able circumnavigateânot the money-grubbing workers.
I respectfully disagree.
Yes, Iâve led a varied life. And, yes, Iâve done things Iâm ashamed offâbut working my way around the world isnât one of them.
Editorâs note: Fatty and Carolyn Goodlander are enjoying their new PerkinsÂ M92B diesel, which, they assure me, is paid for!
Capân Fatty Goodlander has lived aboard for 52 of his 60 years, and has circumnavigated twice. He is the author of Chasing the Horizon and numerous other marine books. His latest, Buy, Outfit, and Sail is out now.Â Visit: