I was wondering if anyone had an opinion on cruising as a long term ERE option? I am not talking about sailing on 50'+ monohulls or huge catamarans but on a < 30' boat. People have posted plenty of sailing budgets online but they are always from people sailing with all manner of unnecessary amenities. I would like to explore cruising in its purest form - celestial navigation (maybe a simple GPS), little to no extra nav electronics, icebox instead of refrigerator, rainwater collection instead water makers, avoiding marinas and resort areas, etc.
Sailboat Cruising(10 posts)
Definately the books by Lin and Larry Pardey..see Jacobs link.
Of course they built their own boats but they are very simple..no engines.
Actually the less through-hull fittings you have the less chance of developing leaks over time...the ideal being Nothing going through the hull below deck level.
I don't know if this applies...
But, recently a guy came into my department and needed a friend's car fixed. We got to talking and I found out he lives on a small boat (26'?) off Holmes Beach here in Florida. He has a dinghy that he goes to/from shore with. He showers at a local park and/or marina. He has a bicycle that he shops and gets groceries with. He has a TV and personal effects on the boat. He told me he lives on somewhere around $300 a month. He said he gets income from a metal detector and he said he used to be a well-known diver and still dives for money (he didn't elaborate as to how he makes income from diving).
Again, not sure if that helps. But, he was a REALLY interesting fellow who seemed to fit into the ERE lifestyle perfectly.
I lived for two years on a sailboat. I did it fairly cheaply but could have done better. If you want all of the conveniences that you are use to on land then it is not going to be simple or cheap. If you are willing to keep things simple and be willing to learn how to fix and maintain the equipment you do have then it can be a really cheap life style. There are people out cruising who are still trying to "keep up with the Joneses". I saw ALL types.
I cruised for a couple of weeks in the company of a young couple living on a simple 28 foot boat. Also in the group was a rich man with his wife and young son a large boat (with all the bells and whistles). The young couple was very self sufficient and able to keep their boat going with no assistance. The other guy spent lots of time waiting for parts and repairs and would often hire the other fellow to fix stuff for him as he had no ability to do it himself. Sound familiar?
Anyway, I ran into the younger couple several months later in the Virgin Islands. They told me they tried to stick close to the other boat as his repair and maintenance work was allowing them to not have to touch the money they had saved for a several year cruise. But, after about three or four months the rich guy gave up and sold their boat in Puerto Rico. He was totally disgusted with the cruising lifestyle. The couple on the small boat were having the time of their lives.
@DividendGuy: I'm sure you are right about the guy you met . . . the ERE lifestyle is easily transferable to sailing. Wanting to sail away is a catalyst for many to adopt the ERE lifestyle.
My SO and I have lived/cruised on a couple boats in the past 3 years. If you look through the posts on my profile, you'll probably find other relevant ERE sailing threads. We also have pictures of our small (25' and 35' boats) and what we've done with them on http://peanutbutterdiet.blogspot.com. There is also a good, though small forum called SailFar for simple sailing: http://sailfar.net/
If you want some numbers, we sailed from Port Lavaca, TX to the Florida Keys. I kept spreadsheets of all my expenses at that time. I averaged ~$80/wk plus my health insurance and phone (~$435/mo total) We only stayed 2 nights in a marina because we needed shower power for some tools to make a repair. We didn't have any refrigeration or insurance. We had a 25' boat with a 9hp gas outboard that used between 1/3 and a 1/2 a gal per hour. We used propane for cooking and all our electricity was generated with a solar panel. So, yes, you can go cruising for <$500/mo. And go out to eat while you're at it.
The other thing to note though, is that we a lot more spending leading up to the trip. The boat cost ~$8000, the engine cost ~$1000, the dinghy cost ~$700, replacement batteries for an EPIRB cost $300+. We bought a toughbook + a GPS and used opensource software instead of a chartplotter. We also bought foul weather gear, chartbooks, courtesy flags, BoatUS tow insurance, etc. During the course of the trip we needed to buy a new shroud ($70), fiberglass, and epoxy. Also, as we kept the boat for less than a year, we skipped out on the cost of all the yearly maintenance jobs. Had we kept her, we would have had to put considerably more work into her to protect her for the long term. Also, as boat parts are expensive enough, I would plan to do all your own work. For a DIYer, that's probably no problem though.
I don't know that I go for all the simple cruising ideas listed though. I think our iceboxes were worthless. The ice melts fast and costs too much. Once I figured out we were spending $50+ a month on ice, I gave up on it. Also, unless you keep ice in it all the time or dry and disinfect it religious after each intermittent batch of ice, it will become a source of hot, dark, wet, moldy nastiness. Living with no fridge is by far the #1 suck of boatliving. Also, considering how expensive paper charts are, I'd say fancy navigating is cheaper. You can put OpenCPN and free digital NOAA charts on a laptop for nothing. Add a GPS dongle and voila. Having paper charts as backups for everything is ideal, but for a long cruise, it's damn expensive. Plus, honestly, in close quarters I accept that my chances of smashing us into something because I can't steer a perfectly accurate course in crappy weather is greater than my chances of crashing into something because all of the four GPS devices we had floating around the boat have all gone south.
PS~ You should really buy a boat though, because it is my dream to have a floatilla of scrappy buddy boating tramps to roam around with. We get lonely with nothing but fancy pants.
@DividendGuy, there certainly are many people who live aboard in FL. The majority I think live aboard in Marina slips, and that can be cheap, but not as cheap as living on the hook.
In SW fl, living on the hook long term can be a pretty rough life, so far as I can tell, having never done it. I've only encountered a few people who do this in that area (in SW Fl there seem to be few, in the keys there are many) and I've never met one that I found particularly interesting-- generally kinda grizzled dudes due to the hard outdoor life. Realize I'm talking specifically about living a life on land from an anchored sailboat in the area from say Anna Maria Island to Marco Island. So I'm not talking about cruising or the keys.
The story of this guy-- living off of Holmes beach in an anchored boat with a TV this time of year, getting a freind's car fixed what? 40? minutes drive away from where he lives, and making money with a metal detector and diving... it's a pretty strange story. You met the guy, so you'd know better, but it sounds like BS to me. Maybe he just wanted to one-up you on frugal living?
There aren't a ton of places in that area that you can pull that off really. To come to/from shore on a dinghy, you have to have a place to tie up and leave the dinghy and a place to store your bike. People tend to notice if you do this routinely in the same place, particularly if you're coming and going with a metal detector. Think about the reality of riding a bike with a metal detector, or riding in a dinghy with one. If he doesn't ride the bike, he's limited to a relatively small stretch of beach-- one that he can reasonably walk to and from in the Florida heat. The TV too-- if he lives in a marina with a hook up, it makes sense, otherwise I'm skeptical. It's not that it's impossible, but it seems unlikely that a guy who likes the isolation of that type of life likes TV enough to do what it takes to keep a functioning set in that situation.
I'm not saying it isn't possible, because I think it is, particularly if he has friends who run/work at a marina allowing him to do things like store his bike and detector, and take showers. And also help from people with more traditional land based living situations who help him out with all of the things he would need to make this work in that area, where living on the hook is relatively uncommon.
You know what it's like to live without a car in that region, so add the complexity of a dinghy, no electric hook up, etc...
The guy was fairly interesting, but also a bit "grizzled" as you describe it. I imagine living this kind of life permanently leaves its mark on you.
I'm not sure how up and up he was. He seemed to definitely be "different", so I don't disbelieve him. He seems to be a pretty friendly and affable person, so I can see how he would have contacts that make this kind of life easier. I do know he has at least one land-living friend, the one with the car he brought in to have serviced.
The owner of the car came in about a week after I met this guy because we had to order an ABS module to fix her car. I asked about him, because I was just so shocked at how different the guy was. She basically confirmed everything he was talking about, and she just kept saying how "interesting" and "different" he is, so I'm not sure of their relationship exactly.
This does seem like a hard life to live. I can attest to what you're saying about living without a car. I couldn't really imagine also living without a solid residence around here. I can only imagine it can be pretty rough in the summer, especially during storm season.
If his goal was to "one-up" me, he definitely did. I thought I was doing a pretty good job at ~$1100 a month currently. He lives for over 4 months on that. Very jacob-esque I guess.
Thanks for the comment. I can completely agree that this kind of lifestyle seems extremely difficult.
Doh! Sound like he is legit. Well, he's a rare bird at least!
I looked into the metal detecting thing a while back, and even had a basic detector many years ago. There is a knowledge base that one must build to do this effectively. I couldn't get much out of it, but I didn't try too hard, and I didn't have the resources I have now.
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