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HomeEastern CaribbeanBritish Virgin IslandsSailing with Charlie: Just Do It!

Sailing with Charlie: Just Do It!

If you’ve ever had that dream of acquiring your own boat and sailing away to explore the world, There’s no time like the present

You know you want it...

Mocka Jumbies and Rum...

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If you’ve ever had that dream of acquiring your own boat and sailing away to explore the world, its exotic locations, different cultures, climates, flora and fauna and the freedom to do it in your own time. There’s no time like the present – so get the ball rolling.

Like achieving many dreams money can be an obstacle. But remember, there’s a large community of people out there (American mostly) who have disposable income, in many cases sacks full of disposable money and their desire is to partake of the hedonistic lifestyle – and that often includes yachting. For you, the dreamer, it’s time to take advantage of this treasure trove.

How to Buy an Older Boat

Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

The answer is to get a job on a megayacht as a crew. Why? Even as a mere deck hand you can save at least 20K a year because the tips are almost guaranteed to give you a thou per charter and most megayachts will do at least 20 charters a year. You get free board and lodging and the food isn’t bad. The work is easy although boring and you have to kowtow to privileged people – they want it NOW and they want it perfect. But bowing and scraping in exchange for a bag full of cash should be bearable and it will give you the first step towards fulfilling your dream.

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Besides saving 60K in three years you will have done the necessary ‘sea time’ to get a basic license. But more important is that you will have learned some seamanship and had a chance to scout out great cruising spots. Also, for about 25K or even less you will be able to buy a used cruising boat, move aboard and begin the journey to a cruising lifestyle. Most important is that fixing up an old boat will give you unparalleled knowledge to keep you going in times of emergency – there are no plumbers in the middle of the ocean. 

Charlie has several friends who bought old boats and over several years managed to get them into ship shape condition and lived their dream. One bought a derelict steel boat – it was only 28-ft, a manageable size – don’t forget size has little to do with seaworthiness. He learned welding, woodworking, fiber glassing and sail making. He re-rigged the boat with galvanized telephone pole wire, threw out the rusted old motor and built a new cockpit with tons of space underneath. He learned basic navigation, bought an RDF (Radio Direction Finder) and convinced the prettiest girl on the dock to go with him. He cruised up and down the island chain of the Eastern Caribbean, catching fish, eating tropical fruits and bathing under fresh waterfalls. 

Charlie’s biggest hero (heroine really) is Shirlz on Speedwell of Hong Kong. She bought a derelict boat, a Vertue 25 in South Africa, fixed it up and set off across the Atlantic. That was 20 years ago. In Brazil she was so impressed by a friend’s junk rig she was persuaded to install one on Speedwell. She made the sail herself and, with help, stepped a new mast. She has never looked back.

Shirlz and Speedwell are now in Lombok in the Indonesian archipelago. She has always been inspired by the KISS principle (Keep it Simple Stupid). Navigation is done with Navionics on a tablet and a weather app on a small shortwave radio that interfaces on the small screen. She is full of praise for her Navik wind vane.

Shirley’s sailing adventures continue. She has voyaged extensively throughout the Caribbean, Brazil, Argentina, the US east coast, Bermuda, the Azores, Central America and the Pacific single handed.  

“My cruising years have been the happiest times of my life.” She says, Now, in her mid-70s she has no plans to change her lifestyle. 

Julian Putley is the author of The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI; Sunfun Calypso; and Sunfun Gospel. 

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Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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