eHelpfulTips™ How To Advice & Thrifty Tips
How To Quit Your Job And Live On A Sailboat
If you have ever dreamed of quitting your job and just leaving the rat race here is one way you might do it. In 1999 I quit my job of fourteen years to go an live aboard a sailboat in the Caribbean for several years. While there is not any "one way" of doing what I did there might be a variation that works for you.
Learn About Living Aboard a Sailboat
Of course you will need to be a good sailor. If you don't know how to sail try to volunteer as a crew member on a racing sailboat. Contact local sailing clubs and network with members and let them know that you are looking to become a reliable crew member and learn more about sailing. Purchase a small day sailor of your own and learn as much as you can about sailing, knot tying, boat maintenance, etc. Read as many books as you can get your hands on. See some that I recommend below. Subscribe to magazines such as Cruising World and Latitudes and Attitudes to get an idea what cruising is all about. Recognize that there are many types of cruisers, those that live on a shoestring and those who can afford anything. Your personal financial situation will determine which you are.
If you have unlimited financial resources then quitting your job and going sailing can be relatively easy. If however you are like most people it will be a challenge. One way to afford a sailboat that you can live aboard is to buy a used one and spend several months fixing it up. Used sailboats that can be lived aboard and sailed offshore can be found in places like Florida, Texas, California, Washington, other coastal states that have cities with boatyards. Search the boatyards until you find a heavily rigged, deep keeled sailboat that has only some minor problems. Use the services of a marine surveyor to check out the boat before you buy. Don't go for the biggest sailboat you can afford. Choose one on which you or your spouse and you can live comfortably and spartanly. The boat I chose was a 32' classic 1967 sloop that cost about $16,000 used and required another $4000 to be cruise ready. It's much better to choose a smaller boat and spend any money you have left over on the things you need to live aboard safely and comfortably, such as a good dinghy, life raft, Radar, anchors, sails, etc.
This nicely restored 1964 Pearson Vanguard 32 is a good example of an affordable, heavily rigged sailboat for living aboard.
When considering quitting your job and living aboard a sailboat it helps to talk to those who have been there and done it. You can often meet live aboard cruisers in coastal marinas and boat yards. Talk to them and ask them for advice. Keep good notes on what gear works, where they have sailed and the experiences they have had.
Determine How Long Your Voyage Will Be
Unless you will have retirement or investment income coming in you will probably need to return to work one day to ensure your financial future. Determine how long your sailing adventure will last and where you will sail. The Caribbean is an excellent choice for living aboard a sailboat for many people. In countries such as the Dominican Republic your money can go much farther but third world cruising should be done with awareness that petty theft is a common problem. You will want to equip your sailboat with good locks, a motion sensor alarm and to not display valuables such as outboard motors in plain sight on deck. You will want to come up with a budget that includes daily cost of living, boat repairs, medical expenses, etc. Some countries such as the Bahamas will charge a fee for a monthly cruising permit which allows you to remain in their waters. Come up with a budget that allows for unforeseen expenses, air travel back to your home country for family visits and emergencies, boat repairs and marina haul outs fees, etc. Divide whatever you have in savings by your estimated monthly expenses and you will get a rough idea of how long your live aboard sailing adventure will be. Allow for a big cushion for unforeseen expenses.
I recommend All In The Same Boat, by long time live aboard sailor Tom Neale.
Get Your Financial House In Order
Quitting your job to go and live aboard a sailboat is nothing to take lightly. You most likely need to sell or rent our your home, sell your car, disconnect your cell phone service and cancel every other land based service that you have. If you can afford traveler's medical insurance it is a wise idea to purchase it.
Some people choose to work part time jobs along the way. U.S. residents can legally work in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, though many work under the table in other places. I wrote the following article on some possible jobs for liveaboards based on my experiences. See Live Aboard Jobs
You may not be able to afford things such as boat insurance that covers you outside of U.S. waters. Cell phones will not work offshore and even where they will you cannot afford the high roaming rates. Live aboard sailors rely on e-mail in ports, payphones and calling cards to keep in touch. Satellite phone systems are expensive and rates are as high as $5.00 a minute. Quitting your job and going to live on a sailboat will require that you give up many of the conveniences you take for granted and living without a safety net in many respects. You will have to learn to live with only a handful of material possessions around you since space is an issue.
Your fate, as well as that of your boat and crew will be determined in large part by your skills and judgment as a captain. Trying to capture the essence of what you need to know and do to quit your job and live aboard a boat in one article is nearly impossible. Each person's situation is different and each sailor's idea of living aboard is different. For some just crossing the Gulf Stream for a few months of sailing in the Bahamas is enough. For some circumnavigating the globe is a goal while other sailors might just wish to stick to coastal sailing and living in a a marina in the United States. Try to find a reasonable niche in the cruising, live aboard sailing community that fits you.
Two of the best books you can read about living aboard a boat are "The Essentials Of Living Aboard A Boat" and "All In The Same Boat" which can be found at Amazon through the links above.
I hope this article is helpful to anyone considering quitting their job or retiring to live aboard a sailboat. For questions you can contact me here: Contact Nolan
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