Minggu, 21 Juni 2009

Questions from readers:

1. If you had bought solar panels and did not have to run your generator everyday how much would that counter your operating cost?

Short answer:

installing a Propane stove = thousands of dollars
installing solar panels = at least 1,000 dollars
Total: maybe 5,000 dollars

Cost of a Generator = 800 dollars
Toaster Oven = 80 dollars
Total: 880

Long answer:

Our boat did not come with a propane stove, and they are very expensive. Our boat also lacked a way to charge the batteries. As you can see from above, installing solar panels and a propane stove would have cost thousands.

In the long run, that would have been fine, because over time solar and propane really are cheaper. But we are pretty short term cruisers. Most of our actual cruising time is only a few months at a time. The rest of our time is spent at a dock.

To this day, we have not spent 1,000 dollars on gas for the generator. So solar would actually be more expensive, and it we would still need to run a genny to cook meals.

If I were going to go cruising for 4 years straight, I would have sprung for the propane and solar. On my next boat I hope to use that setup.

If you are only going to go cruising for a year, a generator is a great way to go. When other cruisers are turning off lights to save battery power, you will be watching movies and making smoothies with your blender.

2. How did you learn to sail?

I purchased a book from Barnes & Noble that explained the basics. Then I got a small sailboat from my uncle, went down to the lake, and figured it out by trial and error. A month later I bought a 31 foot sailboat, with hardly any experience. I was 19.

Many sailors will try to make you believe that sailing is harder than it really is. Do not let them scare you. Sailing is easy. Just use your head, and always check the weather.

3. Was finding jobs while at sea difficult?

When we needed to work, we would stop and get normal jobs. This is a great way to get to know a place. When you are cruising you pass through a lot of places very quickly with out really getting to know them.

When you stop to get a job, you make friends you would have otherwise never met. You see parts of the city, and get to enjoy things other cruisers don't. I loved living and working in Charleston. I didn't want to leave.

For some people, stopping and working isn't part of the dream. But it is part of reality. Whether it is a good or bad experience all depends on your attitude.

When cruising we have cleaned boat bottoms for extra cash. I've also done boat deliveries. Many times captains will need a first mate for a delivery on very short notice. Being able to drop everything and go sailing for a month at a moments notice is something most people can't do. The draw back to this is that you will need to find a safe place to leave your own boat while you are gone.

3. Are there costs involved with going through the locks?

Yes. Most locks charge a fee. The Panama Canal has a fee. The Erie Canal normally has a fee, but for a few years (including when we went though) it has been free.

4. What type of paperwork is needed to be legal to sail around?

It's a free world. You can sail anywhere you want with no paper work at all. However if you plan on visiting land, you will want to have your passport. Documentation for boats depends on what country you live in. Here in the States your boat can be documented nationally with the coast guard, or it can be registered with a state.

5. Were you able to keep frozen meats?

Yes.... but that also meant that we would be keeping frozen milk. So for the most part we only had fresh meat. We would like to have a freezer for our next cruise, but keep in mind, having a freezer means a higher energy demand. We will need to run the generator for a longer period of time, or if we have solar panels we might have to add an extra one on, just to account for the freezer.

6. How can you afford to go sailing at such a young age? Where does the money come from?

We do a lot of tech stock investing, we got started when I invested in Apple 10 years ago, then we hit big again when we bought 10,000 shares of Google during it's IPO. Just kidding!! I'm a trust fund baby, my father is a partner at a large oil company, we get sent a check every month. No, I'm still lying.

We save.
save save save. We don't go out to eat very often. We hardly ever go to the bar. Plus when you live on a boat you don't have very many expenses. There is no cable, no property tax, no phone bill or gas or electric bill. We paid 9,000 cash for our boat, so we had no loan payment. We've always got jobs near the marinas where we lived and we road bikes to get to them, so that means we have no car payments or gas or insurance to worry about.

Riding your bike to work is a great way to get exercise, and to de-stress from a hard day at work. Riding your bike in the rain is a great way to get in touch with your inner child! No adult in their right mind would go riding in the rain, or splash through puddles, but I had a good excuse and a blast doing it. If you ever want to have some fun, ride your bike in the rain.

Go Now

That is what people told us. So we went.

It doesn't matter if you have the best boat, or the newest gadget. So many would be cruisers waste time and money sitting at the dock trying to make their boat into the perfect "Around the World" cruising boat. Few people sail around the world. Be realistic about your goals. Where do you want to sail to next year? Prioritize a list of needs and wants. You don't need a 3,000 wind vane for coastal cruising and island hopping in the Bahamas. Maybe down the road you really will end up sailing around the world, and in that case you actually will need a wind vane, but that is an update you can make then.

Think about what sailors needed to go sailing 50 or 60 years ago. They didn't have anything, just oil lamps and a sextant. Figure out the bare minimums you need to go sailing now... and go. It's that simple.

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