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27 January 2008 | Exumas, Bahamas
27 January 2008 | Exumas, Bahamas

Ultra Budget

19 January 2017
Now I have met folks cruising on an ultra budget who were doing a great job of it.

A couple we met in Tonga come to mind. They were young and on a 40 some odd foot non-descript monohull. At the beach party in Vavauu, anchorage 14, they were roasting some fish on the fire for their dinner. We had a great talk about their travels and "living off the land".

My wife's cousin and his partner are another example. At a Christmas party two decades ago he asked me, with great enthusiasm coupled with little sailing experience, what kind of boat he could get cheap and sail offshore with. I thought about it and said "Crealock Dreadnaught 32" and left it at that.

A few months later he called and said he bought one (I about fell of my chair!), they left from Juneau Alaska with a 50lb bag of rice and a spear gun (I'm exaggerating, but not too much) and ended up in Japan where they sold the boat. They went on to buy a 40' steel hull at a scrap yard, lived in it at the scrap yard while they "built it". A year or two later took off again for Mexico, Hawaii, Midway (where they worked for a year to build up their funds) and then back to Alaska. He even built the MAST from a pipe!!!

These kind of folks can and do cruise on a budget of 500.00 per month.

Now for the rest of us........ When I see an online post saying "I want to buy a $20,000.00 ocean going boat and cruise on 800.00 per month and I need to learn how to sail" I kind of wince. The advice that comes out on the chat room is good and it can be done, see the above, but is it likely?

The two examples earlier were of folks who lived off the land well before going cruising and who were predisposed to doing lots with very little. Those of us who come from fairly comfortable land based occupations with partners and children who are accustomed to certain "comforts" this notion of spending next to nothing each month generally ends prematurely and poorly.

One day I was walking back to Ohana at Palm Harbor Marina in West Palm and saw a man sitting on the dock literally in tears. I walked up to ask if all was ok and struck up "the conversation" about what happened. This is not the first conversation like this I have had, in fact, had the same one just last year in Cape May with a man on a nice Pacific Seacraft Crealock 34 (I detect a theme). The conversation goes something like this:

"I've dreamed of cruising my whole life. I read everything, researched everything, bought the boat and had a great couple of years outfitting her and fixing her up. Finally we decided to go and headed down to Florida in anticipation of sailing to the Bahamas and points south. Somewhere around Charleston my wife quit. She said it's too.........fill in all the "too's", too hot, expensive, cold, boring, terrifying, lonely, far from the kids, get the idea. So here I am with my dream and I have to sell it."

The Cape May guy was more to the point of finances. He had done all of the same and had a VERY specific monthly budget. His transmission gave up in Cape May (see upcoming post on "motoring" to know why) and he literally could not afford to replace and nor afford to keep her at a dock or haul her out and store her. He was selling and he was having a fire sale. For a brief moment, as he told his story, I considered offering to help and pay for a transmission but as he kept talking I changed my mind. It would only be subsidizing what he was already ill prepared for and would just end a little further down the ditch.

The point, for most folks, it's going to "cost" a lot more than you think. Nothing makes me happier than to see folks out there really ENJOYING the life and not constantly on the wrong side of the ledger.

Speaking of which I better get to work so we can go off sailing next week!

Have a blessed day all!

The pic above is of Andy and Lisa aboard "Indefatigable", the steel cutter mentioned earlier in Seward Alaska after just arriving from a crossing from Midway Island.
Vessel Name: Ohana II
Vessel Make/Model: Hunter Legend 40.5
Hailing Port: Anchorage, Alaska
Crew: Paul, Becky, Madison and Kelsey
Started this back in 2008 and abandoned quickly for other options. Time has gone by and we're back! After many adventures across the Caribbean and Pacific aboard Ohana we are back on it aboard Ohana II. The idea was to find a simple inexpensive boat that Madison and Kelsey could sail. [...]
Ohana II's Photos - Main
These are some photos that accompany the article of how we handled finances while cruising.
7 Photos
Created 25 September 2023
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Created 27 March 2016
Just pics of great evenings with great friends.
54 Photos
Created 12 February 2016
Some basic pics of her interior et al.
41 Photos
Created 3 February 2016
A few pics of our first family catamaran that we owned and loved for a decade.
29 Photos
Created 2 February 2016
Round two with our Kelsey! She got the best of New England!
16 Photos
Created 21 January 2016
Highlights from 40 days sailing with our oldest daughter Madison Anne. Check out her blog at:
15 Photos
Created 14 November 2015