You’ve Had Questions. We’ve got Answers

You’ve Had Questions.  We’ve got Answers

As cruisers we get asked a lot of questions about our lifestyle so here are the answers or in a few cases the cheeky responses we should have given.

Will you be roughing it? What about the luxuries of home? I couldn’t live without my morning coffee!

We are hardly roughing it.   The interior finish on our boat is far superior to our cookie cutter builder house that we owned.   Our living space doubles as our dining space and we have two cabins with double beds. We have a fridge, a stove and oven, and even an electric toaster.   Our inverter powers the toaster and allows us to charge all our portable electronics that need ‘household’ power.   We have running water, a shower on the swim step and another in the head (bathroom). We would struggle without our morning coffee too, and have a stovetop espresso maker that we find brews good coffee.


What about all your stuff? It surely wont fit on a boat.

True, it doesn’t fit. One of the most liberating feelings was tossing stuff we had accumulated that had taken up shelf space for years but not contributed to our quality of life. Anything that was usable by others we gave away or donated to goodwill. That being said, we do have a good chuck of stuff we will use or need stored in a safe place.


Are you independently wealthy?

Yup, we were asked but no we’re not.   Although when you consider how much more quality time we have together maybe we are wealthy now.


What did you do that allows you to do what you do now?  

This was asked by a cruiser who was out on his $1 million Hylas sailboat.

What did you do yourself? Statistically few people can afford your boat regardless of age, let alone cruise extensively on it.  So are we really all that different? I went on a smaller older boat, sooner and on a lower budget and plan to work again in the future. Are we really that different?

The actual answer I gave was more like the next one.



How the hell do you afford to do it?

The abbreviated answer is we lived way below our means ever since we finished our Masters degrees.  Instead of letting the savings lose purchasing power in a savings account we took advantage of the bargains in the financial markets after the ‘big crash’.  In my opinion a professional person or skilled trades person can have just about anything they want, but they must prioritize because they can’t have everything.  And some things will take time or creativity to achieve.


Where to next?

Central America had been high on our list and we indicated this to many when we were home. Unfortunately, we have learned that some countries will not allow you to bring your dog if it has been to one of the others in a given period of time. So, instead we are looking at the parts of the Caribbean that we didn’t get to last year.


Are you considering a circumnavigation?

No. We don’t need to go around just for the sake of going around. We would rather explore North, Central and South America and possibly Europe than doing a circumnavigation, although some of this may wait until later in life or by land.


How does Magnus manage? Ie. Where does he do his thing?

 When we are at anchor he gets taken ashore several times a day. At sea, he uses the foredeck and we wash it off afterwards. This usually requires a lot of coaxing the first time on a passage and a big reward with treats afterwards. If it is too rough and he wont climb out of the cockpit, we will go hove-to, slowing the boat motion.

On our second passage (New York City to Hampton, VA) he was sitting in my lap and started trembling the second afternoon. I passed him over to Chrissy to try and calm him down and when I stood up, we discovered why he was trembling. He had peed on me. I learned my foul weather pants really do work and we had a good laugh.


Where do you stop on your way between Hampton, VA and the BVI’s?

Tim Hortons has a few locations along the way and we tie up for the night and grab a morning coffee and donut before we set off again at sunrise. The American boats have Dunkin Donuts to stop at but the bigger yachts seem to prefer Starbucks.


What does it cost to cruise?

 Honestly, it costs what you have. Everyone is different. If you have a big household income and spend most of it, you wont be able to quickly make the lifestyle adaptation to live on minimalist budget. If you live on a fraction of your income like we did then your investment returns on your savings will subsidize your cash burn rate when you cast off the docklines. Our annual expenditures for our first year of cruising were about 40% of our previous land based lifestyle. We are not minimalist, but we are not extravagant either.  We met a group of 3 who had come down the coast from Canada on a boat under 30′ when we were in the Bahamas.  They were out there early in life having a unique experience, and on very little money but this isn’t for everyone.

I also need to point out that it costs more to go further, even if the wind cooperates and you don’t have to motor. More miles equates to more wear and tear on the boat, sails and rig. I’m weary of sailors that claim they live on ultra low budgets that do long open ocean passages. For this type of sailing you want to know your boat and gear are in good working order. If you want to go sooner and need to trim the budget to make it a reality pick a cruising area that interests you and buy a boat and cruise there.

If you still aren’t satisified with my answer then do a google search. There are a number of blogs that post their actual costs. Read their blog, find one that matches your idea of a suitable lifestyle (boat size, age, regions of travel, entertainment in port etc). Also compare their ‘lifestyle’ and their associated numbers and see if it looks like they occasionally miss a few bucks here or there…

Finally, be weary of cruisers who brag about how they lived for few hundred a month in the Bahamas. Good for them, we probably did too, but we bought a lot of food in Puerto Rico plus propane, and diesel that was consumed during those months. Don’t forget to amortize the boat insurance, life insurance and other costs before you take the low number you find and multiply by 12 months.


Have you considered monetizing your blog?

Yes, but it doesn’t look promising. The amount of effort to get my readership higher from the 50-70 views in the day or so after a new post could make a McDonalds job look attractive and is likely better devoted to researching a potential investment.  If I have something to post and available internet, I do it. If not, no sweat, I don’t have to keep the content coming at the risk of losing a viewer.

I’m not keen on cluttering the perimeter of the blog with advertisements or adding a sponsorship page to the blog, which seems to one of the common themes on cruising blogs.  I’m all for a fair deal and I’m sure some of these blogs with strong readership are providing more value in advertising than the $50-100 discount they receive for their ‘sponsored’ item.

Some people have a PayPal button on their site, but as our blog really just details our travels and I don’t have a lot technical articles that may be of ‘value’ to someone I don’t see a justification for a donation.   I would prefer that the 1 in 100 people that might be inspired to donate a few bucks use it as a start to pursuing their own dreams, whatever they may be.

We want to cruise or travel extensively too, where to start?

First ditch the cable or satellite TV. 8 years without saved us a lot more than the cost of cable and allowed us a lot of time to pursue other interests which in the later years included learning about boats, sailing, and travel destinations.

Next, learn to sail on a dinghy. It is cheap and you learn the fundamentals better because and have to learn to ‘feel’ the wind. There are no instruments to tell you what is going on. On our Hobie Cat if we missed a big gust approaching we were swimming next to our capsized boat a few seconds later.  So we are much better at seeing when conditions are getting rougher and we should reef on Altera.

This article has 10 comments

  1. This is brilliant stuff.

    I’d like to post it to my Facebook feed if that’s ok with you.

  2. Great post, and super-informative, Jeff! Not sure if you read them, but your messages about minimalism fit really well with sites like Mr. Money Moustache, and others who talk about financial independence.

    I also can totally understand the justification to focus on investing, rather than monetizing the blog. One is much less glamorous, but delivers much more reliable returns.

    Love reading your updates, and smooth sailing for all 3 of you!

    • I do read Mr. Money Moustache on occasion. He has some good posts and while I don’t strive to be quite as cost conscience as he is, he does share some good information on his lifestyle and thinking that allowed him to retire at 31 if I remember correctly.

  3. Great info, well presented!

  4. — Great stuff, you guys…. keep on sailing!  Loving the blend of technical, humour and just plain life stories that you share!!!

  5. Good to know your foul weather pants do the job Jeff.
    What a job you’ve done with the financial info and your advice.
    Keep it up the good work.

  6. Hi:
    Just found your blog while following another. Beautifully written. I like your boat and was marina-ed next to one for few years. Your response to “cost” is brilliant. Imagine asking, “What does it cost to live in New York City?” So carry on. I was a long time racer and cruiser, professional sailor in Caribbean and NE. Norm, Cape Cod