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post #21 of 66 Old 12-31-2002
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To Stede & the group...

Looking back at this thread, there are some pretty consistent messages. Beyond them, it''s fair to apply general themes about financial & retirement planning to a ''cruising escape'' plan, as they are in fact the same. Here''s my shot at summarizing, folding in info from other sources (e.g. Latitude 38 frequently has cruising sailor accounts of budgets, financial planning prep, etc.) and our own experience:
1. Medical insurance once you surrender access to a group plan, is one key inhibitor for many. Because health coverage is more universal and liability costs are far less in other developed countries, we have to at least investigate sources of coverage outside the U.S., e.g. Siegfried Preuss Group Health in Germany, which cruising sailors have found (e-mail: For an explanation of this, one helpful boat web site is - look for ''insurance'' on the left margin.
2. "Retirement Income" for most of us can only be the result of working a savings & investment plan relentlessly for a lengthy period. If unclear how to do this thoroughly, attend an Adult ed course. Alternatively, get one of the many excellent books and work your way through it, together if with a partner, religiously. Some folks enjoy having a hefty Golden Handshake but most of us who are cruising got here by spending carefully, investing steadily, and remaining on careful budgets while cruising. No secrets; just steadily working The Plan.
3. The money used to invest in one''s escape (whether it qualifies as ''retirement'' or is just a ''break'') comes from examining your lifestyle and adjusting it to support your future goals - again, no secrets. There are lots of good examples of this in the posts preceeding this one, but here are a couple of details I don''t see being mentioned that are very helpful for some of us: 1) initially write down every single expense, every day, over several months - usually, people discover money is being used in ways or in quantities that surprise them; 2) construct an annual budget based on the essential expenses you are identifying, and follow the budget - this means posting expenses, revisiting goals, adjusting the budget as you learn what was omitted/can be done without, etc. at least weekly...until this becomes a way of life; 3) Your computer is your friend - it makes doing all this ''book-keeping'' much less painful; moreover the web has some useful $$ planning software on-line and free.
4. FWIW, we have kept a 4-year annual budget, looking forward, for the last 10 years, to help us reach both our cruising goals and retirement planning goals. It wasn''t fun but was the only way we got where we did. Altho'' we are inbetween extended cruises and busy doing a refit, we continue to maintain the budget and track costs daily even tho'' folks might assume we no longer need to. Truth is, we do. We have left careers twice for extended periods (once in our early 40''s, without health or boat insurance; now in our 50''s, with health & boat insurance - guess we''re more risk averse now!) and believe re-entry to the work world is just another challenge that must be thoughtfully tackled once you face it.
5. Amen to the many comments about adopting the lifestyle before you begin the cruise! Working on boat systems is like on-the-job training with both immediate & longer-term financial benefits. We are not *entitled* to new(er) cars, new clothes, meals at nice restaurants, a large home and get-away vacations...none of those are "ours" nor are they essential to health, happiness, an appealing appearance, or a respectable lifestyle. Instead, those are purchasing decisions we tend to make with that veneer of entitlement, as tho'' they are part of a basic lifestyle. Some can afford to operate this way, but most of us can''t...tho'' truthfully, many of us do.
6. Accept - in fact, embrace! - the fact that we all must cruise within our own individual means. If someone is thinking they don''t know how others can afford to go cruising when they can''t, they''re likely picturing a size boat, number and type of boat systems, cruising route and/or ''style'' of cruising that, sad to say, just isn''t within their grasp. Young people take off with almost no savings. You''ll find boats of all sizes in the same interesting ports. Cruisers of some nationalities (the French are great examples) often place functionality, simple systems with hull/deck/rig integrity, and a simple lifestyle as the only thresholds to going cruising. This attitude tends to set more feasible norms for others and low-cost cruising becomes more widely supported as a result. Put another way, we all encourage a distorted view of cruising when encouraging air conditioners, water makers, massive electrical systems or "needing at least 40 feet" as prerequisites for a ''good'' cruising boat. (I''ll confess I tend to emphasize safety issues & equipment here to the extent that it may make some feel like they can''t afford such ''adequate'' safety, when in fact they may be thinking about *my* view of what''s adequate).

I''ve seen a LOT of individual cruising budgets over the last five years (SSCA Bulletins, L38 articles, numerous books by Beth Leonard, Liza Copeland, etc., and on many BB''s like this one. These budgets are all over the place! They reflect far more on the individual crews'' desire to be cruising, their creativity and ingenuity in dealing with issues other than throwing money at them, setting reasonable goals, and not being bothered when they''re the only ones in an anchorage that haven''t visited the local cantina or are on one of the smaller, simplier boats in the anchorage - and such budgets reflect far less on what is actually "required to go cruising".

Good luck to all of those who aspire to retire and/or go cruising in the absence of large pensions or investment portfolios. Trust in the fact that it can be done. You just need roll up your sleeves and get busy. <g>

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post #22 of 66 Old 12-31-2002 Thread Starter
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Hi Jack, thanks a lot for taking the time to respond.It''s very refreshing,and encouraging to hear from someone that addresses the "brass tacks" of what it takes to actually make the dream a reality.You''ve given myself,and I''m sure others much to ponder and research.Yesterday,I was a long way away from being able to cruise full time.Today,I''m another day closer.Happy New Years to all!!
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post #23 of 66 Old 04-03-2003
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Please check your personal message center and e-mail.

thank you.
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post #24 of 66 Old 04-04-2003
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Excellent, insightful thread!!!
My problem - I (mostly) agree with ALL the preceeding posts.

Our experience:
1992, we in our early 40''s:
Quit jobs, sold eveything and "just did it", intending a 2 year cruise, but hoping for longer - not financially prepared for longer.
Having spent the "kitty" began working summers, cruising winters.
Family circumstances require that we return(to former) home to help. Sell boat.
2003 we now in our mid-50''s:
Back to "career" working, wondering when we''ll get back afloat.

(1)More preparation would be better, but we would''nt have missed our decade afloat for anything.
We were ill-prepared (financially) to "get away", but made a very good "go" of it - and could have continued to. Our (summer) earning ability started slowly, but increased dramatically evey year.

(2) It''s very difficult to return to a career, after you''ve been away any significant time. Your skills & contacts become "stale".

We encourage your preparation, but suggest that there''s never enough - so at some time you''ve "just gotta go".,
Gord May

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post #25 of 66 Old 04-04-2003
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I am sorry you feel it necessacary to say that the one''s who just sell it all and go are unrealistic fools.
I knew the stock market was going to tank for years before it did! Any idiot could see that coming. Unfortunately, I have been out of work for almost a year now. The economy sucks, it isn''t getting better, no-one is spending money, no-one is hiring, they are shipping all our jobs off to India and after giving the corporate world everything I had, they just toss us aside like lint on their big polished mahagony desktops.
Well, I am sick of it. I refuse to try to work my butt off to make some corporate giant rich so that they can lay-off eveyone on a whim (god forbid the executives take a paycut or the stock price dips a little). The longer I stay here, trying to work and save money, the more money it costs to live and work. If my sailing only lasts a year or two, who cares. The boat is paid for and I am young and have lots of time. (sorry for the little rant)
I generally agree with a lot of your advise but I also believe that most people, Americans especially, are too scared to make a decision on their own, that is why you keep seeing the same question being asked over and over and over, sometimes by the same people. And that, unfortunately, is not a good quality for anyone in a self-sufficient situation. You have to be able to make a decision on your own (an informed one though), commit to it and follow thru.
Preperation is a very good idea but don''t discount those who actually still have some adventure left in them (or don''t have much choice). I must say the stress of worrying about money is much greater to me than the stress of learning to sail or living aboard or even being lost at sea.
Not everyone visiting here is a 40-50 y.o. professional with $50K+ in the bank. Some of us low-lifes are just trying to make it to some dream the best way we know how. For me it means buying a boat, selling everything I have (I have a ton of stuff), and moving aboard. Better to go broke in a beautiful place doing something I love than to do it here in the middle of the concrete jungle while trying to make somebody else rich. And as for health insurance, I have NEVER used it and since I lost my job, I haven''t had it anyway. So how is it different when sailing? I have been to third world countries, and it is MUCH, much, much, much cheaper to get medical attention there. Did I mention how much cheaper it is? The amount of money I spent on insurance last year alone would pay all of my doctors bills for the last 10 years of my life! (I never go to the doctor) Granted, it is nice to have, unfortunately for me it is now filed in the "niceties" catagory and not "necessary".

my 2
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post #26 of 66 Old 04-05-2003
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Ahoy Stede, The Pirate of Pine Island has seen your side of life and though it (life) can through you some curves keep at it. I''ve spent nearly two years just trying to get the boat ready and away from the dock and I keep getting waylaid by one thing or another. I personally have had to battle a demon or two and health can be a real issue. I however would rather spend my time in poor health doing what Iam doing . Sailing is the reason for living and nothing can take that away from you, if you truly love it. As a Pirate I don''t worry about insurance too much in truth I''ll go down wit me ship one day wether the doctors get paid or not.
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post #27 of 66 Old 05-05-2003 Thread Starter
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Ahoy Big Red,
Thanks for your words of encouragement.I learned to sail in your waters,and you are a lucky pirate indeed to be there.I just returned from a trip single-handling my boat from Key West to the Marquesas and Dry Tortugas.It was a great trip which I enjoyed very much, but it also gave me the opportunity to learn some lessons about the cruising lifestyle. I talked with many sailors.Some that lived on small boats,others on BIG boats,and some that lived on boats that never went anywhere.I was curious as to why I saw so many boats both on the hard,and in the water that appeared to have just wasted away.One savvy fellow I met that had lived on a houseboat for 22 years in the same marina explained it to me.He said " people that have the dream of cruising will come along and buy an older "fixer upper" with the intention of straightening her out while living aboard.The boat costs for keeping her in the yard and repairs are always more than what they expect.Before long they can''t keep up with their payments,are bogged down with work,and end up having the boat seized by the yard for non-payment,or end up selling her.Before long,another buyer comes along with the same dream of cruising,and the cycle starts over again." He said he had seen the cycle repeated over and over again in the 22 years he had lived in the marina. What this information told me that pertained to my own plans is this: When looking for a boat to cruise with,don''t buy more boat than you can afford.You may be willing and able to do alot of the work yourself, but I believe putting together a realistic plan on how long it''ll take to put a boat in the drink,and an accurate estimate of repair costs is a vital one. Also, bigger may be better in some ways, but in costs bigger can be a killer to the average income sailor. It costs more to keep a bigger boat in a yard, maintenance costs seem to expand exponitially, and sometimes the reason for having the bigger boat is just a want,rather than a need.To sum it all up, I have changed my viewpoint to this : " A small boat sail, is better than a big boat stale." Cheers!
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post #28 of 66 Old 05-08-2003
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My wife and I have finally set the date for July, 2005. We expect to be able to sell our house, buy a (probably small) cruiser and take off. We, however, expect that we will be able to come back to the US every year or so to work. It shouldn''t be too difficult for the two of us to earn 15 or 20k for another year or two on the water. And then we would be off again.

Right now having a firm date is the most important thing to us. I just had another birthday and have been having dreadful thoughts that I will be too old or too sick to cast off when the "right" time comes.

But about health care, I must say that many of the doctors in a few of the so-called third world countries have very good training. For example, I know people who vacation in Costa Rica and have all their dental care done there while on vacation(!) because it''s better quality and so much cheaper.

But, frankly, I have to say that I agree a bit with Big Red, if I get his meaning. I read an article recently that suggested that cruisers should carry automatic cardiac defibrillators with them just in case. But my feeling is that if I am so concerned with my safety that I feel the need for a defibrillator I shouldn''t be sailing (I should live next to a hospital, just in case). And if I were so ill that I really did need a defibrillator, I think I''d rather not take one.

In truth I actually don''t know what Blue Cross would or could do for us out by the Marshalls or off the coast of Argentina or halfway to the Azores. Would it really help?

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post #29 of 66 Old 05-09-2003
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Setting the date is very important, even if it changes from time to time. We set our date 12 years ago and will retire (at 52) in November and set sail. We are only 1 1/2 years off the original plan.

Another suggestion on health care. Instead of buying a defiberlator go ahead and do a stress test and have a heart cath done. It is important to do a heart cath because stress tests are very unreliable, but a heart cath is almost 100% accurate. The cost is about the same and if you get an OK on the cath you know your chances of a heart attack are minimal.

I just had a cath done. Its a piece of cake and the peace of mind is fantastic.

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post #30 of 66 Old 04-16-2006
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Impressive Thread...

Forgive me for replying to a 2003 thread, but this is one of the most impressive series of posts on this issue I've seen. (The quality of writing and examples in older threads really impresses me here.)

What's fascinating is how sailing plans fluctuate according to one's age. On many sailing boards, I read interesting threads by those who have retired and have wonderful larger monos or Cats that they spend time and money preparing for their cruises, and cruising. Their financial futures are set, for the most part.

Other threads are by college students who are planning adventures, or living them, in $10k Albin Vegas or Contessas that they think they've made safe enough. I mean, who wouldn't want to live Tania Aebi's adventure. The cool thing is that they can escape for a few years, even sans health and boat insurance, and still return to enjoy pretty much any life they want to.

In the middle are 40-somethings (including me), with a range of decisions to make. If we're married and have kids, it's harder to decide that "cruising is more important than health insurance." Or that "the kids will pay for their own college, like we did." Meanwhile, our mortgage interest is our main tax deduction, the 401ks run like torpedos, as are the college savings accounts, the supplemental Roth IRAs, and maybe even a strategic growth boat account...

Here's the only question: is it true or untrue that things are more wild and unpredictable today than they were 20-30 years ago? We've read the three books by Herb Payson, for example, but it seems like the 70s (when he and other cruisers took off) had fewer "bombs" to worry about than today (skyrocketing health costs, crippling college costs, possible retirement needs, goldmine real estate returns/costs, etc.). I'd like to think not, but then I hear stories of retired parents living with their kids because of bad financial planning...

Again, the choices are always tough, and a lot can be said for seasonal cruising while one continues to work (or enabling a spouse and kids to cruise while the other "holds down the fort" financially). Lots of variables-- but this was a great thread.

Jim H

Last edited by Jim H; 04-16-2006 at 10:23 AM.
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