|First . . . you must determine, is your dream of a boat? Or is your dream of voyaging?
|Frugal Voyaging is all about living aboard and living better for less. For me, frugal voyaging means "more fun than fuel". It
translates into spending more money on yourself than on your boat and boat related expenses. Now, I don't care how much money
you have, that means more fun! Frugal voyaging also means you can't afford "cheap". Believe me, no matter how big your boat, you
will never have enough room on it for "cheap". That goes for your boat, your gear, your equipment, and all your tools. There simply
isn't enough room in or on, your offshore vessel for "cheap" stuff. It either won't work at all, or won't work long,
Furthermore, the smartest frugal voyagers, do not buy the biggest boat they can afford, but rather the smallest boat they and
their crew can comfortably live on. Frugal Voyagers also do not finance their boat - at least not past the date they plan to toss those
lines and go voyaging. You don't want to be caught in Paradise having to leave and go back to work only because of "boat
If you look up the word "frugal" in any dictionary, there is no mention of the word "cheap".
No offense meant to any person or any Company; but... Whether you're an old friend, new friend or a friend we haven't met yet -
you need to understand, that if Walmart sold boats, they would be selling Bayliners, and neither Walmart or Bayliner sells anything
that has any usefulness on the open sea or attached to your off shore boat.
Now notice, I said "boat as well as attached to it". I am aware that this statement offends some Bayliner owners, but fact is, I'm
talking safety here, and at sea, your safety is dependent on you using the tight tool for the job. If you want to buy towels and
tupperware, disposable stuff or food stuff from Walmart, that's great! We do it all the time. But at sea, you are far from land, far from
being able to be "hauled-out" of the water, and far from a mechanic... it won't matter what Walmart's return policy is, and if it is a
critical component - an important piece of gear or equipment - you will be wishing you were indeed up that creek without a paddle.
That my friends, would be a much preferred situation, then being stranded out in the middle of the ocean.
Saltwater is a very harsh environment, and it has a way of permeating the air and everything in it. That wonderful sea breeze
that makes your morning coffee taste so wonderful, has also been playing havoc with all things metal, mechanical, and electrical,
on your boat all night. This includes anything and everything that is attached to your vessel. It also includes any and all equipment,
gear, and especially tools. Keep this in mind before you buy anything that is not Marine Grade or top quality. Being "frugal" is
being smart as well as safe. Being "cheap" is being dumb and dangerous. So be as frugal as you possibly can, but don't be cheap.
We all learn from our experiences, and it is from years of personal experience that our intent is to help you save your money, as
well as your time and efforts. It is one thing - when we suggest you try or buy something (Meclizine for seasickness, as example). It
is a lot more serious when we suggest you "don't" buy something. That's because, we already made that mistake and it proved
either not to work, or down right stupid on our part. So... take heed, and you won't have to make the same stupid mistakes we have.
My son (for example) an experienced circumnavigator and (even though I say so myself) one of the safest, and smartest of
world class sailors; recently bought a new "car" stereo for his boat. Did he know better? Yes, but, he figured since the radio would
be installed "well inside the cabin" and all the speakers and wires would be inside as well... he would give it a shot. It was $99.99
at Walmart vs $299.99 at the Marine Store.
Did it work? Yes, it did... for almost six weeks. Course, by that time he was so far out at sea, he had no chance to get another
and therefore went months without music.
For years, Eric and Susan Hiscock were the world's most experienced voyaging couple - during their frugal voyages together
they circumnavigated the globe four times over a period of about twenty years. At one point in time, (after receiving a big check
from the sell of their book) they bought a new 46' vessel. In less then 6 months, they traded it in on 32 footer - which was just 2
feet longer then the one they had been sailing around the world in for years. In one of their books, Eric mentions that the majority
of long-distance voyagers have "tight budgets" - which he blamed on "complicated and difficult vessels with less then top quality
gear and equipment". His favorite line (used I think in all his books) was: "All one really needs is a suitable vessel, suitably rigged
and suitably fitted - with quality material and craftsmanship." Folks, it really is just that simple.
Most boat problems in paradise are minor, and most all the others are totally avoidable. They are usually a result of small things
left unattended to that added up becoming something major. So paying attention to detail, making sure that your boat’s engine,
gear, sails, rigging, anchoring system, plumbing, etc. are (at all times) properly maintained is very important to your success.
Things will break, fall apart and, or just stop working. Knowing how to fix things will go a very long way to making your journey
both safer and more enjoyable. Doing your own work will also save you money, which means you can have a significantly smaller
The most seaworthy boat, if handled incorrectly, can get into trouble. Everyone on your boat needs to know how, and should be
capable to handle the vessel single handed. You can get a smaller then you dreamed relatively inexpensive seaworthy boat, do as
much of the work yourself as possible; and safely sail within a very small budget, all the way around the world, and then some. All
that is needed, is for you to buy the right boat, keep your boat and equipment simple; ie: minimal unnecessary "stuff" - avoid
"gadgets" (most don't work more then a week anyway).
You can buy all the top quality stuff you need, second hand, through places like eBay, Marina bulletins, and nautical flea
markets. People (especially boaters that never go anywhere) are so caught up with having the latest and greatest gear and
equipment, you can really get some incredible deals on good quality stuff if you are patient, and willing to take the time and trouble
to look for it.
There are great Marine Resale & Consignment shops all around where ever there is a navigable waterway. Texas, Florida, North
Carolina, come to mind as one's I've visited. There are also lots of places you can find on line and some even sell on line. Just
remember, don't buy "cheap stuff". Buying good stuff second hand however, can often save you a bundle.
Despite the impressions you might have:
1. Frugal Voyaging is NOT "cheap" voyaging - the more frugal you are - the more you can't afford "cheap". So, no matter how
tempting it may be - don't even think about buying cheap stuff. It will cost you more money in the long run.
2. Also, you don't want to buy the biggest boat you can afford. Instead, buy the smallest you can comfortably live on.
Anyone that tells you that "bigger is better" - and does so without any mention or restriction of both the vessel's size, and your
own physical strength and health limitations is blowing "myth smoke" in your face and not speaking from experience.
If you vision sailing off to Paradise in a fun, relaxing, enjoyable, stress free, carefree voyage then your vessel needs to be one
you can handle easily, and all by yourself.
Unless you are Superman sailing around the world with Superwoman as your first Mate - 40 feet in length is about as good &
safe as it gets. For a couple, 32 to 36 feet is better, (depending on your needs and comfort zone). For most, anything over 40 feet
is stretching it. At times, a 40 footer can be a real physical challenge. Remember, the bigger the boat, the taller the mast, the larger
square feet of the sails - and you have to be able to fold up, tie up, pick up and put away your sails every time you change them,
based on wind conditions. Also, same goes for expenses, repairs, replacements, maintenance, and everything else.
Most everything you do related to your boat will incur expenses. All such things as maintenance, slip fees, overnight dock fees,
stepping the mast, bottom paint, passage through locks, etc. will be based on your vessel's length. The bigger your boat the more
expensive everything on it and done to it becomes.
There are big expensive seaworthy boats - there are also smaller, inexpensive seaworthy boats. The boat you initially choose
will determine the long-term costs of your living a-board and cruising. Even after your boat is paid for, the size of your boat will
determine whether or not you have "major" vessel related expenses, or minor vessel related expenses. Additionally, the size of
your vessel is also a safety factor. A large heavy vessel that is difficult to handle in and out of Marinas in rough or windy weather
can be very stressful.
|Frugal voyaging is not cheap voyaging. . . It is just smart voyaging.
|© 2000 - 2017 captainjohn.org
Most all of us live aboards who are cruising full time are doing it in vessels 36' and under. Few, very few are
in vessels 40 feet and over even though you see one or two most everywhere you go.
Additionally, it is important how and where you plan to use your boat. Where do you want to go? If
cruising America's Great Loop is your preference, than a full displacement hull Trawler with a single engine is
just about the most perfect choice a cruising couple can make in a powerboat.
On the other hand, if cruising the Bahamas & Caribbean is your preferred agenda, a sailboat should be your only consideration.
Cruising the Caribbean is cruising in Paradise - that is - if you have a sailboat. Why? because once you get past Nassau and the
immediate (closer) tourist destinations, both fuel and fresh water is very scarce. Unless you have lots and lots of extra money to
"bunker" fuel (and we'll discuss that later) you should be aware that most "power" boats do not have the fuel range to cruise below
or even to the Virgin Islands.
Another factor to consider is fresh water for drinking & cooking. Believe it or not, however for those unprepared or without a
water maker - lack of fresh water turns back as many cruisers in the Caribbean as does lack of fuel.