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Old 02-03-2011, 05:09 PM   #1
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OK - I know that the dream is probably too big to start but I need to set a time frame and make it happen. So here it goes -

My wife and I live in Maine and am closing in on 50 - the last college graduations are this May so the kids are on their own. We live near the coast and have a 17 foot day sailer (Harpoon 5.2, totally not suited for saltwater IMHO). Luckily I have good friends (better than owning a boat is to have good friends who own nice boats). These friends are generous with sharing their experience and we may be buying a nice boat soon (Mercer 44).

The 30 month plan is for my wife and I to live the cruising life aboard the Mercer or similar type boat.

I spent 4 years in the Coast Guard a couple of decades ago and fell in love with seeing the world a short distance from shore. The open sea is where I want to be - at least for a while.

I have really enjoyed this forum - read quite a bit on the adventures of s/v Watermelon and loads of tips from an Admiral from Down under (and parts thereabouts). Eager to take in as much info as I can, distill it through experience and then set sail. Would love to make the dream a lifestyle but really not sure how much it will take to make that happen (one blogger said $500/month - even doubling that sounds really light, not to mention keeping some sort of health plan and maintaining a land base somewhere).
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:30 AM   #2
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Welcome aboard. Thanks for the great introduction - good to have you here.

Make yourself at home - "JeanneP" is buying the drinks this week.
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Old 02-04-2011, 12:58 PM   #3
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Welcome,

I hope you enjoyed Watermelon's logs - we certainly enjoyed those experiences.

$500 a month? Back in 1987 we met a cruising couple in Venezuela who had to budget themselves to $360 a month. Which was why they were in Venezuela where food and fuel were almost absurdly cheap (Beer was 4 CENTS a can, a liter of gin or scotch - not good stuff - was $1.00. Delicious ground coffee was 47 US CENTS per kilo!.) Even at those prices they fished for their food, baked their own bread, maintained an exceedingly healthy lifestyle heavy on fresh fruits and vegetables - in VZ even cheaper than beer! They were lovely and generous people who were welcome guests on every boat they met.

My point - 24 years ago it took significant effort to live on such a budget. As I've seen, though, that cliche "where there's a will there's a way" is still true today.

What I recommend, though, is that you organize your life so that you always have a fall-back position, cruise with no debt, and try to save a little bit every year - inflation and inflated expectation seem to be the biggest budget busters out there.

Cruising is such a positive lifestyle that I want to encourage you. My form of encouragement includes a strong dose of caution because that's the way I think. Plan for the worst and be pleasantly surprised when it doesn't happen that way, and if it does happen you're already half prepared.

Fair winds,

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Old 02-04-2011, 01:35 PM   #4
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Glad to make a connection with you - what you and your husband did is great fodder for moving from the dream to a reality. I truly appreciate all that you have shared. I am still curious about the starting point - maybe there was a post that I missed where you talk about the actual pre-planning, boat shopping and decision point? btw- I really loved the modifications you did on the s/v Watermelon - I imagine the hard dodger saved you the trouble of canvas maintenance.

I know it is entirely too personal to ask - but I am curious how most people do come up with the funds for the lifestyle. Do they have enough tucked away that they are living off interest? Do they find work in various ports? My wife is a freelance writer and can do work wherever there is a decent internet connection and/or, on occasion a good university library. Our investments are not large - they could provide us with $10k/year without jeopardizing principle. Any "net" that we may get from selling the home and accoutrement would go into the boat - so that is a wash. I may be able to have health ins through a business interest, but it is a leash I would rather let go of.

We are both easily content on less - the only thing my wife will have a hard time letting go of are our two dogs. At 70lbs each, they are too large for life at sea. We hope the kids will be willing and able to take them when we go.
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Old 02-04-2011, 03:17 PM   #5
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There are a couple old cruising reference books that are old but still salient to the planning process today. I've recommended both several times. The first is Annie Hill's Voyaging on a Small Income and the second is the Pardey's Cost Conscious Cruiser. Both books encourage cruisers to think about long term sustainable living on a boat. I found Hill's book to be very useful in terms of weighing options for type of boat, capacity for stowing gear, etc. The Pardey's tend towards the "you can do much with very little" mentality which has worked for them but may make many people very unhappy. Other sources of more current cost information include the Bumfuzzles sailing blog (look at their 4 year circumnavigation, though they had a big budget each month, they were very honest about sharing their cost information. They were also exceedingly inexperienced and open about the matter and shared that information, too. Throughout, they often took honest assessment of less than stellar sailing skills and let the world know all about it. Very gutsy.)

If you don't use Quicken or a similar program to keep track of your costs, start to do so now. Understand your own spending habits, wants and needs before you take off.

Some generalities written by experienced cruisers:

If you spend a lot on something now (say booze or entertainment) you're going to spend a lot on the same thing while cruising. We don't change overnight into thrifty monks.

Take what you spend on shore for food and increase it. Don't expect it to go down. On average it will not.

Take what you expect to spend on boat repairs and double or triple that number. (Here, I suggest you talk to a knowledgeable marine surveyor about the expected cost of maintaining your vessel for many years in the same good shape you bought it in.)

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