How I can make money while voyaging.

"Sure, there's the incredible beauty of it, particularly when you're creaming along before a fresh breeze and beneath a sky full of stars on a perfectly balanced boat, or when a lush, green island looms on the horizon after many miles and days on the blue, blue sea. And, of course, there's the challenge in it, for there's no other activity on the planet quite as testing, unique, or fulfilling as guiding a small vessel across a vast body of water safely and efficiently. Finally, there's the wonderful harmony to it, for there are few things emore enjoyable and, in this day and age, more relevant and important than harnessing the clean, fresh power of the wind and currents to propel our dreams and ambitions." - Herb McCormic, Cruising World So how much will this thing cost and how am I going to pay for it? Honestly, I don't know 100%.   But I have a good idea of how to figure it out and am in the process of narrowing it down.  From everything I have learned, I know that it is possible for me to do this. In other words, it isn't so expensive that this entire dream is unrealistic.

The money you need to go cruising falls into two categories: funds to buy and outfit a cruising boat, and the total expenditures necessary to pay for the life aboard.   Finding a balance between the two is the trick.   The more money I spend on the boat will mean less money in the "cruising kitty".   There are people who have done this on a boat that has cost less than $30k and who spend less than $5k a person per year while cruising.   Not bad! There is also the other spectrum, people who spend millions on boats and hundreds of thousands a year cruising...I'll think about that when I retire rich!   But for now, it is all about the budget.  My focus on learning about cruising has been with a budget mind set.   I have been seeking out what people have done to successfully cruise on a shoestring and how they keep it going while out there.

So how will this thing be financed?   As I mentioned before, I intend to save and hoard every penny from now till this thing gets launched to fund it.   But that will probably only go so far my savings will be mostly spent funding the boat and outfitting it for cruising.   The money for the cruising kitty may be limited, therefore alternatives to financing this thing are needed. I can go for debt, which I am trying to avoid at all costs, or I can find a way to keep money coming as I go.   This whole thing is a planned sabbatical from the drudgery of office work, but I am not opposed to working as I go.

I should note here that my time frame for cruising is not set.   I plan to go out without a return date in mind.   I would like to take at least two years to do this, but I am not planning on ending it at a strict date because who knows, I may find a way to keep it going forever given the options below.

So what kind of work would I seek while cruising?   There are a ton of options and in all likelihood I will use multiple streams of income while out there.  I am an entrepreneur at heart with a lot of skills that I can use to make some cash.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Working for resorts or making money off of resort guests - Plenty of opportunity here. Running waterfronts in resorts (I have lifeguard experience), teaching sailing or surfing, waiting tables, tending bar, or playing music.   Jobs like these are easy to find in any of the resort areas of the world especially in tourist seasons.   In particular, teaching people to sail or surf, or playing my guitar in bars would be an ideal and great way to make some cash in the touristy areas.
  2. Day chartering my boat - A lot of people start a little day charter, or booze cruise, by taking people out from resorts.   This is a great way to make some easy cash, but I would have to deal with people on the boat, my home.   I can take people to a reef for lunch and a snorkel or to isolated locations only reachable by boat.   I could also specialize in surf charters.   Taking a group of surfers to an isolated break for the day could yield great cash, and I trust a lot of surfers over some spring breakers.  I am not considering long-term charters just yet.   My boat will be too small for that, but in the future, surf chartering is a business I have dreamed of starting. I'm sure I will post more about that later.
  3. Offer services to other cruisers - Doing this whole thing on budget will mean I will develop a lot of useful skills that I could earn a living off of.   I will need the skills beyond the average cruiser, of course, but I am a quick learner and with a lot of time.   Options include learning how to repair sails, work on marine diesel engines (my first choice as a trade skill), refrigeration, electronics, and other sailing systems.   Other cruisers in isolated locations are always in need of these services. Sometimes even the simplest of skills can earn money, such as baking a lot of bread and selling it to other boats in the morning.
  4. Teaching - Teaching, especially the English language, is always available around the world.   My sister did this in Japan and I know plenty of people who do it around the world.
  5. Trading - Buy loads of unique crafts or something like that, sell them elsewhere for profit. Easy, but would need to store the crafts. I see this as supplemental to other jobs, not so much something that could fund everything. But would definitely do this if I saw arbitrage.
  6. Crew for charter companies - Working as a skipper on a crewed charter boat can earn me a real living and may end up a great career. But this would mean getting a bunch of certifications and such. This is down on the list as I would rather work for myself.
  7. Writing and Photography - Maybe this blog will become well read and I can earn ad revenue on it . Or maybe my writing skills develop enough that some sailing magazines will give me a job.   Maybe I can write for surfing magazines.   A lot of cruisers do this, but it is very competitive.
  8. And lastly and probably the most obvious, continue my career in Finance and business while on my journey. I could acquire a work visa in another country and work on a temporary contract. This is done a lot and there are TONS of opportunities for someone with my background out there. This is what I will be looking at when I start to run out of money and all other sources are drying up. It is a last resort because it would mean the journey would be temporarily halted, but 6 months of work in New Zealand to fund another year of cruising doesn't sound too bad.

I have also thought of ways to give back to the world while I am trolloping through it. Perhaps I could turn this journey into a journey of charity and teach kids in poverty stricken areas to surf and leave some boards with them.   Or perhaps something as simple as giving them some soccer balls to keep.   I need to brainstorm this more, but I think it would be an amazing opportunity if I could secure sponsors for this whether it is a surfboard shaper who gives me a certain amount of boards per year, or someone donating soccer balls.   Maybe I can get enough sponsorship to actually fund this entire thing if I commit to some charitable work. I would love to do something like this if it is possible and it would add an entire new dimension of satisfaction and accomplishment to the trip.

So as you can see, keeping the dream going is possible for someone without a lot of cash up front. After I save the cash to buy the boat and have the initial funds to set off, work is out there. In the next post I will begin to dissect how much voyaging really costs.