HOW MUCH MONEY?
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.