Monthly Archives: April 2013

I Wish I Could Afford to do Something Like That

“How are you going to finance this?”, or “I wish I could afford to do something like that” are among the most frequent responses that many people have when we tell them about our sailing plans.  The short answer for us is that Shane will be the breadwinner, continuing to work as an information technology consultant through, Shane Dennis Consulting.  Shane has enough clientele lined up to provide a basic income for our family.  We’ve rented out our house (using a local property manager), and are selling our cars before we leave.  The boat was bought and paid for by a combination of cashing out  years’ of hard earned savings, topped off with a (relatively) modest inheritance.  We’ve been living on a frugal budget, and we’re expecting a very frugal lifestyle aboard.

Sailors from many economic situations have found a way to make their voyaging dreams come true.  Below are some links to a few of the resources that we have used as we worked to cobble together a plan that would work.  Many sailors are able to work their way around the world in a variety of professions.  IT professionals are heavily represented among the cruising sailors, of course because of the relative ease of telecommuting from anywhere when you do Internet work.  I’ve read of nurses, carpenters, free-lance writers, and even a hair stylist that worked their way along.  Captaining/chartering your own boat for vacationers is another way that some make a nautical living.

Teresa Carey from has written an excellent article on the financial aspect of live-aboard cruising:  Money!  Money! Money! Mon-ay!

How to Inexpensively Buy, Outfit & Sail a Small Vessel Around the World is a humorous work of genius, tailored to the aspiring sailor with very little money.

Voyaging on a Small Income by Annie Hill is an excellent resource, written by a voyager who maintained a budget of something like $150/month for $20+ years.

SaiLast but certainly not least, sailors and land-lubbers alike can enjoy the short film Hold Fast, by the Anarchist Yacht Club.  This is an absolutely fantastic adventure video-zine/documentary about a group of 4 broke young anarchists who rehab a derelict yacht hull (s/v Pestilence) and sail to the Bahamas.  Trust me, if they can afford it, you can!  Catch the trailor here:



Although this memoir is not primarily about financing the cruising lifestyle, the author of A Sail of Two Idiots is quite forthcoming about the details and dollars that went into their Carribean sailing adventure.

For two hillarious takes on the tale of a 1950′s sailing family sustained by the earnings of their nomadic sign painter father, check out Chasing the Horizon by Cap’n Fatty Goodlander, and Dreamseeker’s Daughter, by Carole Borges.  Both are great reads.  The fact that these nautical memoirs are written by two siblings, describing the same adventure each from their own perspective is priceless.

Two sailing families who generously share details of their budgets (and their adventures) include s/v Del Viento, s/v Third Day.



On Getting Out of the Rat Race

The decision to take a few steps back from our “career paths”, in order to pursue the sailing/cruising life, is something that a lot of people seem somewhat puzzled by.  After all, we’ve “made it”.  We are living the “American Dream”, right?  Two professional jobs, income, house, two nice vehicles…  Why would we abandon our upper-middle-class lifestyle to pinch pennies on a 34 foot boat?

In short, because we have become increasingly aware that we’re being run ragged by the “rat race” of it all.  Once you have all this dreamy stuff, then you are shackled by the amount of work it takes to maintain it.  As Shane likes to say, “possessions possess you”.  Henry David Thoreau warned us that “most men go through life dragging their furniture behind them.”  And so we have toiled.

What’s  worse, after the cost of the childcare, transportation, parking, professional wardrobe, convenience foods, time-saving services and the rest of it, it does become questionable whether or not at least one of us is essentially working just to cover the cost of working.  Combine the physical health consequences of our high-stress, sedentary jobs with the beer we drink to forget them and the junk food we eat in exhaustion - a recipe for declining health.  We’ve come to the conclusion that the health risks of our current routines are truly more dangerous for our health than any of the adventures of our  dreams.  So, at least from now until Franklin’s start of kindergarten, it is time for a sabbatical.

In researching the concept of a sabbatical, I was interested to learn that the root word is actually “sabbath”.  It makes sense when you think about it.  Many of the spiritual traditions encourage periods of rest from work for spiritual growth and to re-focus one’s priorities.


adjective \sə-ˈba-ti-kəl\

1 : of or relating to a sabbatical year
2: of or relating to the sabbath <sabbatical laws>

And so it is intended that our sailing sabbatical of 2013-2014  will be a journey of the mind a spirit, as much as of the body.  We will step back from the vicious cycle of work, consumerism, and more work.  We won’t be able to buy much “stuff”, because it won’t fit on the boat.  That will be good, because we also will be on a very limited budget.  For me (Mary), even more so than for Shane, this exercise represents an important stage in personal/spiritual development.  My self esteem has long been tied to my career and material success, and I no longer think this is healthy for me.  In the process of getting ready to move onto the boat, I have given away or sold many of my “prized possessions”.  Honestly, the sense of relief has been almost immediate, in each case.  In about three weeks, my total possessions (aside from the actual boat and its equipment) will fit into two duffel bags.  Okay, Okay I’ll admit it.  I bought the largest two duffels I could find… but progress is still progress, right?

I know many of you will feel a bit skeptical, even cynical, about this “voluntary simplicity” stuff, without understanding how we plan to finance this journey.  This is a valid question.  A lot of sailors have written about how they do it, and there are people from a wide range of economic circumstances who find a way to make their sailing dream happen.  I promise to write a post on money matters soon.

Until then, sometimes a picture speaks a thousand words…