i have noticed that when asked "how do people afford to cruise", there is always the standard, "cut back, save, live below your means, save, etc..".
what i want to know is, what do cruisers do for renewable income while cruising?
i realize some write and sell articles and photos, some write music. but i wanna know, what trades do people do whilst cruising? i would imagine being a boat mechanic would prolly do the trick. what other things do folks do?
carpenter, plumber, electrician, etc? what kinds of barter are there?
We have often wondered the same thing. I'm guessing if anyone has a great idea they'd keep it to themselves.
Also is would depend greatly on where you are in the world. Some countries will not allow you to work. Maybe barter but not have a job for cash.
I met a lot of liveaboards before I settled down, and I remember mainly two types:
The ones, who had financed everything in advance, or had permanent income without working, like for instance old-age pensioners.
And many ones who struggled. They had planned to make their living doing this and that while being on cruise, but in most cases this turned out to be hardly possible. You can find stuck and frozen sailors in many ports around the world.
Sorry having to say that, but I think it would be better to save enough money to survive at least one year before setting sails. And this includes reserves for boat repairs...
agree with Chirstian,
you need to be truly independent to cruise long term. Many countries will not allow you to do work, with out the requisite paper work/visa/etc. even if they do, the locals will not co-operate if you are in competition with them, in any way.
You MAY find some expats who would hire you for your craft skills, but even those prefer to barter something back and save the hard cash for real events.
Some may get in to writing for a magazine, but even that pays next to nothing, unless you are at the top of the game, perhaps $50-70 a page, if you are lucky
Some go local and eat what the locals eat, others live on beans and rice, or rice and beans...
All I am saying is that if you suffer on land, you will suffer cruising...cruising solves nothing and may in some (many) instances test your ability and patience, daily.
Disclaimer: *Clueless newbie alert*
As the disclaimer says, I don't know jack about long-distance cruising, but one thing I see a lot of on this forum, are people who show up thinking that they're going to sustain themselves through internet entrepenuership. Ie- blogging, Google Adsense, tech writing, writing fiction or non-fiction books, etc.
These people give me the feeling of those cheezy "Make millions working from home, on your own computer!" get-rich-quick advertisements. Yes, it's possible but you have to be really savvy, and offer something unique. I think ChrisnCate are doing this, but it's my understanding that they were engaged in this sort of employment long before they took up sailing and aren't jumping into "internet employment" blindly.
As for other means of employment, there's the visa/work permit issue that was mentioned above. It seems to me, that if you have to work to finance your long-term cruising desires, you need to have a serious, high-demand skill that you can parlay, and cruise the coasts of your home nation where work permits aren't an issue.
Diesel mechanics, sail repair, fiberglass work and sailing instruction (licensed of course) come to mind. I do know of a young couple that are successfully doing this, so I have a little insight, but not much.
First, you could find a shop that has a large backlog and see if they're willing to hire you on. That eliminates the whole competition question. You may even improve their reputation if they have an image of a shop with poor service.
Second, if you pull into an area that has shops of poor reputation, then you're doing the local community a favor, and to hell with the hurt feelings of the local shops.
Lastly, if you pull into an area that has reputable shops, but they are heavily backlogged and still not interested in hiring you, then you're really not hurting anyone. Odds are, as a one-man shop, you wouldn't be siphoning off enough business to hurt anyone.
Your question really applies more if you pull into a foreign port and start putting the locals out of business. In the US, competition is expected and there's nothing wrong with it.
From our experience cruising, just about everyone is living on money they already had. This varies enormously from people who are very well off to people with very little money and live accordingly - and are still having a great time.
Even the wealthy people tend to eat the local foods - a) they are available and b) that is part of the fun. Also the local foods vary from the markets where the locals go (not supermarkets, but stalls under some sort of shelter) to the most incredible supermarket I have ever seen in Papeete. One thing to think about is that the cost of living varies hugely from place to place. Ecuador was probably the cheapest and French Polynesia the most expensive (except solar panels strangely). Generally the more advanced the country, the more expensive it is to live there - assuming in each case you are eating what the locals do. In many places you can fish and in some places fruit can be free (ask first).
As to earning money, I think that is really problematic in most situations. Generally cruisers help each other with repairs rather than charge for them. You might get a bottle of rum or something for helping but not an income. In a few places you can get permits to work - generally in wealthier places but can't count on it. A few people write, but not for sailing mags, they just don't pay enough to really matter. The people who do write had writing careers before starting out and just keep doing it. For example, we met a guy in Fiji who writes science-fiction novels and I have written a number of school textbooks that need to be updated every 5 to 6 years each. We met one woman who made jewelry with shells and materials she brought with her. She bought some black pearls in the Gambier islands so she could make more expensive items to sell - generally to other cruisers. It was more like a paying hobby I think.
On the brighter side, I think it is cheaper to cruise than many people think, especially if
a) you don't switch countries too often - the government charges could kill a tight budget quickly. First time we went to the Bahamas and paid the $300 I was shocked, later on I would have been happy if it was just $300 per country.
b) if you have a very simple boat and simple needs. We met one guying cruising on a Bristol 27 without an engine. He fished and collected coconuts and was living very cheaply indeed. When he was in American Samoa (he was American) he was hoping to work but had not found anything yet - he was very handy with computers and communications gear. Met another guy on about a 31' boat with two junk rigged masts (that were flagpoles) and no engine and a dugout canoe for a dinghy. He would occasionally take an adventurous person or two (thing backpackers) on a 'crewed charter' for a few weeks in Panama. Had been doing this for quite a few years happily.
I guess I must be very fortunate indeed. I've been saving for years, purchased the boat I wanted, which obviously beat the Hell out of the checking account and I have marketable skills that I can take with me.
In my case, I've been a freelance, outdoor writer for nearly 40 years, sold thousands of magazine and newspaper articles, and sold loads of photos to go with those articles. So, on every trip I record notes on my digital voice recorder, shoot lots of photos of nearly everything, then upon my return I query some of my editors to sell them articles.
Unfortunately, the print media business is rapidly falling apart, and most of the stuff you see on the internet is donated by those who wish to see their name in an article. Consequently, the freelance writing market is quickly coming to an untimely demise. Therefore, I must make do with my only, other marketable skill.
For the past 30 years I've also been an entertainer, a one-man-band singer/musician. I perform regularly at high-end restaurants, bars, retirement communities and private parties. This will be my primary source for generating an income during my upcoming, 7-month voyage down the ICW to the Florida Keys, then over to the Bahamas.
I already have a couple jobs lined up in the keys where I believe I'll be able to do some horse-trading in the form of a couple nights of performing in exchange for a week of slip rent with electricity and water. If this works out OK, I'll use it at other locations as well.
The main problem associated with this is transporting my equipment. I have lots of room for it on the boat, but once I arrive at the dock then I have to make arrangements to transport it to the bar or restaurant. Now, if the job is a marina Tiki Bar, transportation is not a problem. But if the job is situated a fair distance from the boat, I may have to either rent a car or call a taxi-cab, both of which can be expensive.
The other problem is you cannot be anchored or on a mooring ball and bring the equipment to shore on a dinghy. It would be quite foolhardy to expose $7,000 in music equipment to some nut case in a jet ski or go-fast boat's wake.
Hope to see some of you in the sunny south next November,
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