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  #1  
Old 10-19-2011
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Financially, realistically, how does one cruise the bahamas?

I read so much about cruising the bahamas, but I need to know something. How do people generally do a trip like this financially?

I would love to quit my job and cruise the caribbean, but realistically I have a ton of student debt and a decent job which is not easy to come by in this economy. So do regular, working people who are not retired and don't have huge life savings regularly do this?

I live in New Jersey, and have thought about maybe towing my 25' hunter down to florida and launching there. But... towing a 4,000 lb boat is not as easy as it may seem, and I only have a 4 cylinder car. What do others do? Do people leave their boats in a marina in Florida and just fly down once a year? Do people regularly trailer their boats down?

Or is cruising the caribbean a rich or retired man's sport, unless one decides to "check out" of the rat race and live a bare bones lifestyle, working odd jobs at various ports for the rest of one's life? (not that that sounds bad lol...)
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Old 10-19-2011
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To be honest, it doesnt come easy. Most cruisers eschew debt at all costs...which you're already behind the 8-ball on with your student loan debt. Living the lifestyle is not too expensive if you can stay away from Marinas, Restaurants, and Bars. But then, whats the fun!

If I'm in your shoes, I'd plan on charter vacations a couple times a year before cutting the docklines and going cruising full time.
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Old 10-19-2011
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Peter, if your job has the typical two weeks per year of vacation time? Either you'll fly down and charter someplace every year, or you'll spend more trying to drive and tow and store your boat in between trips to it. There's only so much you can do with limited vacation time. Unless you can work on a much better than usual schedule.
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Old 10-19-2011
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hellosailor has it, 2 weeks paid vacation is ideal for a nice charter without to many worries, To own a boat and live in the bahamas can be done fairly cheap depending on your lifestyle. Fish daily, anchor in bays and meet locals for the sweet deals, or docks, marinas, and steak is another way to go. Either way get there,,,do that,,,,,good luck
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Peter -
You've pretty much called it. I didn't start sailing beyond a sailing dingy on the local reservoir until I was debt free. These days I sail on local lakes and take advantage of when my job sends me around the southeast. I drive and tow the boat rather than fly.

It's still not the Caribbean. That's for my retirement.
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Old 11-05-2011
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Lots of folks here also looking for crew to move their boats north/south or south/north or florida/bahamas, etc. Perhaps you can do a crewing stint to satiate your sailing urges.
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Old 11-06-2011
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I'm probably closer to your age than the average poster, so I'll share what I'm hoping will work for us. We're coming up on 30 years old but we spent nearly 7 years in university.

We were lucky enough to come out of school with technical grad degrees and without debt. Internships, scholarships, Canadian tuition and generous parents all played a part in that. Then he got a decent job with good raises and I switched jobs until I got somewhere that was also good. It took about 5 years to get there.

All the while we've known we wanted some freedom in life so we've never taken on debt and we've saved as much as we could while still enjoying good food, sailing and travel. No tv, keeping cars for 8+ years, lots of home cooking, etc. If we'd had student debt, we'd have an older beach cat, spend less on food, and take all our vacations camping.
We've also resisted having kids when peer & family pressure kicked in.

We've accumulated some decent savings and equity while watching friends pile on lifestyle debt and buy bigger houses & new cars. We didn't know exactly why were we being conservative but we were knew we couldn't be happy as "wage slaves".

We'd fallen in love with sailing at that point, bought a beach cat, and read lots of sailing books. In retrospect, it was inevitable that one of us would ask whether we could take off and go cruising.

From the time we decided we'd probably go, it'll take 3-4 years before we can actually go. Then we'll be gone about 3 years. Before we go we need get on a more conservative budget, buy a boat, get used to it, outfit it, ... Then we'll sell the house and set off. After 3 years we'll come back with enough cash to handle a 6 month job search. As long as one of us works we can get by.

My husband was offered one job with a company that had a provision for a 1 year leave of absence after 2 years. It was brought up by the hiring manager who has a Vindo for Great Lakes sailing. I'm in software so I should be able to step back into a crappier job than I have pretty easily.

So if I were you and I wanted to go on an extended cruise instead of vacations, I'd figure out how to pay down student debt or get it forgiven as soon as possible. Then start accumulating some cash and figure out what it'll cost you to cruise. I've seen figures from $800-5000/month, though most are in the 1000-2000 range.

Once we were comfortable with our financial position, we starting trying to negotiate extra vacation instead of extra pay. That worked really well when my employer was going through a slow time but my husband hasn't had any luck with it. He'll be changing jobs shortly and more than 2 weeks vacation is requirement. With my vacation, I could do a few 2 week charters to scratch the itch, so that could be an approach that could work for you. Took me 5 years to get here, though once I found a small business where I could take on responsibility that would start me at 3 weeks, it was much quicker to get even more vacation instead of raises. Lieu time instead of having overtime paid out might work too.
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Old 11-07-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristinaM View Post
I'm probably closer to your age than the average poster, so I'll share what I'm hoping will work for us. We're coming up on 30 years old but we spent nearly 7 years in university.

........
Wow thanks for an excellent post Christina. I think you have a wonderful plan!

Where are you going to cruise to when you actually go and do it? How big a boat are you thinking to do it on?

I would personally like to spend some time in east asia, really learning the cultures and maybe some languages. I feel like basic travel lets you see a little of what's out there on this big blue planet, but the only way to really open your mind and begin to understand a culture/people/place is to live there at least several months. By picking up on the language a bit, meeting local friends, etc., you really expand your horizons. A week long vacation to thailand lets you get a glimpse of another culture, but a months long stay helps you understand it. IMHO of course, and that's really why I want to go cruising.

Last edited by peterchech; 11-07-2011 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 11-09-2011
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For now, the plan is to leave in 2-3 years and cruise for about 3 years. Plans are all very early but we have an idea of what seems to make sense for us. We're in Canada and love to travel but also love to really spend some time in a place to get more than a quick tourist's experience. We'll start out with a few months in the Great Lakes, work our way down the eastern seaboard, then to the Caribbean in the first 6-8 months. After about 2 years, we'd make a decision whether we're going to cross the Atlantic and spend about a year in Europe.

Then it's back here to top up the cruising kitty and probably have a few kids. That'll keep us close to family for a few years. Hopefully finances work out and we can head out cruising again while the kids are in elementary school. It'll be another big decision how far and long to go then.
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