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World Tour


Everyone wants to know how much money it costs to go cruising.

The answer is straight forward.  Sailing around the world on a lean and mean small yacht doesn't cost that much.  Take a look at the young men running these long tail boats; they live on a couple of hundred dollars a month.  If you eat the same food they do and anchor out in remote patches of paradise, it will cost you about the same for the necessities of life.

Lynn and Larry Pardey  wrote a book about self-sufficient sailors who roamed the seas in uncomplicated small yachts.  The cardinal principle of those voyagers was keeping it simple and having only those things on board that they could fix.  They relied on stellar seamanship and a resourceful mind rather than on mountains of cash as they sailed around the world.  These frugal sailors worshipped at the altar of freedom.   They cruised in affordable yachts to affordable destinations, and they had a rich life.

There are expensive high tech ways and inexpensive low tech ways of doing things on a yacht.  Take security for example.  The first single-handed circumnavigator, Joshua Slocum, had major security concerns during his voyage.  He  placed carpet tacks on deck at night as a low tech early warning system alerting him to the presence of intruders sneaking on board in the dark.  His system worked exceptionally well when hostile Indians came on his boat at night in South America near the turn of the century.  His resourceful mind created a simple, but effective, alarm that kept him safe.  Today, security conscious cruisers install electronic entry alarms and motion detectors to do the same thing.  I think that Slocum's carpet tacks were superior in their ability to discourage barefoot bandits.

When I had my Westsail 32, I learned how to steer my ten ton cruiser using sheet to tiller steering.  It was exciting to make my boat steer itself without the benefit of an expensive electronic autopilot.  Sheet to tiller self-steering cost me only a few dollars to set up.  I used an old turning block, some rubber bungee, and a short length of line joining the tiller to the mainsheet.  More than twenty years later on Exit Only, I have an electronic autopilot that costs thousands of dollars and consumes more than fifty amps a day when sailing offshore.  The power hungry electronic autopilot requires either high output alternators, solar panels, wind generators, or all three to slake its thirst for amps. 

Today, sailors regard engines as essential equipment for offshore sailing, and  I'm inclined to agree with them.  Nevertheless, Joshua Slocum, Harry Pidgeon, and the Pardeys sailed around the world on small yachts without an engine.  By all accounts, all three of them had frugal, but enjoyable, voyages.  These exceptional sailors  had modest and uncomplicated yachts, good seamanship, endless persistence, and very big dreams.  They all proved that you don't need a mountain of money to sail on the ocean of your dreams.

Pictured are the long tail water taxis of Phi Phi Island.  There's no better way to explore the nooks and crannies of Phi Phi Le in Thailand.



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