Sailing/cruising is the most wonderful all-encompassing life experience there is. There are two ways to accomplish becoming a successful world-girdling cruiser: (1) Work most of your life at a single profession to build up a ton of money, retire, buy your chosen boat and set off; and (2) make cruising your life’s choice, start small, learn life skills, acquire the perfect boat your budget will stand and set off.
Pros and Cons
Number One is the option for most people. There are problems here and the first is that the later you leave your retirement the easier it is to make more money, so time slips away and before you know it you’re too old or out of shape to do the middle watch, hoist the anchor or keep your balance on a rolling deck. Not only that, but life skills like preparing a decent meal underway, trouble shooting problems on marine systems or diving on the prop to clear a line wrap may be too challenging.
The pros: You have tons of money and can buy whatever you need (providing you have availability).
The cons: You may be waiting for months for parts or techies who can help you.
Number Two is the option for the adventurous outdoor lover who has decided that seeing and experiencing the world is his/her life’s ambition. The problem may be funds because you have spent all your cash getting your boat shipshape. But the positive note here is that you have learnt many life skills and you will be self-sufficient. What you need, in the words of a cockney friend, is a ‘nice little earner’- a way to generate a cash flow anywhere in the world.
The pros: You are footloose and fancy free; your boat is always ready to go. You can navigate without expensive chart plotters and air conditioning is not a requirement. Replacing a faulty voltage regulator is a snap. You are good at diving up a seafood meal almost anywhere.
The cons: your money supply is always teetering on collapse.
There are ways to boost up the cruising kitty. A friend of Charlie’s is also a writer and he manages very nicely by writing articles for marine magazines and a book or two. He even wrote a whole book on anchors! Now that’s dedication.
Planning a market for your product is essential. If you make coral jewelry, don’t expect impoverished Polynesians on a sandy atoll to buy; but a boutique in Sydney might. There are things you can trade: LED flashlights, fish hooks and swivels, kerosene lanterns and cheap watches are all things that can be bartered.
A few readers may question the opening phrase ‘… most wonderful all-encompassing life experience …’ Charlie has had inquisitive novices ask, “It must be scary at times. What was your most terrifying experience at sea?”
To which he replies: “When the girl I brought back to the boat in Singapore turned out to be a man.”
Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.