Your starting is age 22, halfway through a degree, with about 6k of your own money and the option of a 20k, low-interest loan. Would you buy a cheap boat, cut out and cruise thrifty? Would you finish the degree, go to law school (you've got the grades, but that's a lot of tuition debt), and work for 20 years before buying a really fancy boat? Would you build your own boat over five years, making it perfect? Would you buy a dinghy and live a normal life on land while playing in the bay, and call that good enough? Would you raise a family and charter somewhere warm once a year? Would you curse the sea forever and go raise cattle? Would you [insert other idea here]?
22 seems so young and callow from the viewpoint of 52. However... I would do what I did. Not that there aren't plenty of times when I have asked myself the "what if" questions.
I think that my 22 year old self would need to ask myself what is important to my life.
- Do I want to live a life for yourself, or do I want to live my life for something greater than myself?
- Do I want to have a family, not just some woman (or women) and a kid or two, but a real family?
- Do I want to be a part of a community (not virtual) where people will know me, touch me, and share their lives with me?
I decided to get an education that I could use to serve my patients and to earn a (marginal) living. I chose to stay in my community and become someone who is known, respected, and involved in the life of the community. I chose to commit to marriage and raise kids. I've been married to the same woman for 29 years now.
Those choices have worked well for me. It did mean that I traded a number of things over the years to get what I wanted. I traded more money, more adventure, toys, play time, etc to receive personal fulfillment. However, after many years, my wife and I did decide to sell my late father's sailboat and buy our own.
The key is to figure out what your core values are and pursue those. If it is possessions and wealth, then a cruising life is probably not a great choice. If it is long-term close relationships, then you may have to think carefully about what may be a vagabond existence. If you want to make a difference in this world, then you would need to carefully plan how that can be achieved through a cruising life. Most importantly, do you want a family? What kind of husband or father do you want to be? What life do you want to offer your children? All these can be hard to answer at 22?
For me, there was a reason we named our boat what we did.