Learning how to buy a boat and sail around the world is shared by many adventurers and boating enthusiasts. The allure of exploring distant shores, witnessing breathtaking sunsets over the horizon, and immersing oneself in the freedom of the open sea is undeniably appealing.
However, embarking on such a journey requires careful planning, knowledge, and preparation.
Let’s go through the process of buying a boat and sailing worldwide, starting with my suggestion to spend a week on a sailing lifestyle experience as an essential first step.
Step 1: Spend a Week on a Sailing Lifestyle Experience
Before you dive headfirst into buying a boat and setting sail on your global adventure, it’s essential to understand what life at sea entails. A week-long sailing lifestyle experience can provide invaluable insights into the realities of living on a boat, handling various weather conditions, and understanding the responsibilities of sailing.
Consider booking a sailing vacation or attending a sailing school that offers live-aboard experiences.
This hands-on approach will give you a glimpse into the day-to-day life of a sailor and allow you to determine if this lifestyle aligns with your aspirations. Moreover, learning from experienced sailors during this time will provide practical knowledge that will prove invaluable when you embark on your adventure.
Case Study from our Sailing Lifestyle Experience Guests
Let me start by explaining that my wife & I booked the Sailing Lifestyle Experience so that we could spend time on a liveaboard sailboat in an attempt to see what it’s like and to see if it might be something we would want to try.
We came away with a better understanding of sail trim, motoring, navigational routing, weather forecast interpreting, mooring ball retrieval, anchoring, provisioning, boat repair/service, customs clearing, and so many other little things that all add up to what gave us a real sense of what it’s like to live on a sailboat.
Our expectations were blown away. It was exactly what we were looking for. Simon found a way to make us feel like friends, while also delivering a well-polished, professional experience.
Whether you are just considering this lifestyle and want to “try it out” or you are an experienced sailor looking to add to your skillset, Simon will deliver.” Dean, Trish, & Ruby Izbraun, Portland, Oregon April 2022
Reduce your learning curve fast by getting all your questions answered on how to buy a boat and sail around the world. Apply for a Sailing Lifestyle Experience here.
Step 2: Define Your Sailing Route and Goals
With a taste of the sailing lifestyle under your belt, it’s time to determine your sailing route and set clear goals for your journey. Consider the destinations you wish to visit, the duration of your trip, and the experiences you hope to gain. Some sailors prefer a leisurely pace, while others aim for a more ambitious voyage, crossing oceans and exploring diverse continents.
Understanding your goals will also help you choose the most suitable type and size of boat for your journey. Whether you opt for a sturdy monohull or a spacious catamaran, ensure it aligns with your sailing plans and the number of crew members you intend to have aboard.
Ninety-five percent of people don’t set goals.
How do these people spend their time? They watch the five percent of us buy a boat and live the dream. If you want to sail into the sunset, we must ensure you’re in the five percent!
For ten years leading up to our decision to sell up and set sail, I constantly came up with excuses and what if’s (what if it doesn’t work, what if we run out of money, what if we don’t get the perfect boat, what if one of us gets sick, what if we die)! Instead of setting goals, I was harboring restrictions.
Aside from failing to set goals, I also lacked knowledge about how limiting beliefs prevent success.
I had the dream, but I didn’t have the goal.
I had the ambition, but my beliefs limited my progress. Beliefs like, ‘We’ll never be able to get our dream boat,’ ‘I’m too young to sell up and sail away,’ and ‘I’m not good enough to have my dreams come true,’ are limiting!
The day I examined my beliefs, changed those that weren’t working for me, and set a solid goal was the day things changed. Miraculously, once I set the goal, created a visual representation of what I wanted to achieve, and picked the weeds in my head (limiting beliefs), it took months to move from land to my 56’ sailboat and transition from one lifestyle to another.
This is part of the answer to how to buy a boat and sail around the world.
If I could do it, so can you.
Step 3: How to Buy a Boat and Sail Around the World – Research and Budget
Thorough research is crucial when purchasing a boat for world sailing. Explore different boat models, their specifications, and their suitability for long-distance voyages. Consider factors like durability, safety features, storage capacity, and ease of maintenance.
Additionally, establishing a realistic budget is paramount. Besides the initial cost of buying the boat, consider ongoing expenses such as insurance, mooring fees, maintenance, fuel, provisions, and possible repairs. Having a comprehensive budget will help you avoid financial surprises during your journey.
The big idea here is that you must define in as much detail as possible where you want to start from, where you want to go, and think about what the first season will be like.
Please don’t say you want to sail simply around the world!
Everyone starts by thinking this – including us, but it’s unrealistic! When we started, we purchased a boat in the Mediterranean. We planned to cross the Atlantic in the first year.
Once we started, we realized that we needed to spend a lot more time learning the boat, and we also realized there was so much to see – why rush?
So first, think about where you want to leave from, where you will visit, and your plan for the first winter or hurricane season rather than try and spec a boat out for the whole world.
Many new cruisers lose sight that buying your boat and fixing it up is not the end goal.
The end goal is how your life will change because of having a boat. There is a big difference here!
Those that focus too much on the boat end up having a never-ending project. Those that focus on living the life end up living it.
For an entire chapter on boat factors to consider in addition to determining the cost of buying a boat and sailing around the world, check my guide, Sailboat Buying Guide for Cruisers.
Step 4: Obtain the Necessary Skills and Certifications
How to buy a boat and sail around the world. demands a certain level of expertise. Before you embark on your journey, invest time in acquiring essential sailing skills and certifications. Basic navigation, seamanship, and safety courses are a must. Depending on your destination, you might also need specialized certifications like offshore sailing certifications or VHF radio licenses.
By obtaining the necessary skills and certifications, you’ll feel more confident and prepared to handle the challenges that may arise during your voyage.
Check out the American Sailing Association (ASA) in the USA, as they have a clear path to learn how to sail. In the UK or outside America, check out the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), as they are recognized all over the world.
Just keep in mind that the ASA and RYA only teach how to sail. They don’t teach much about maintaining and servicing boat systems, using modern technology, dealing with storms, demonstrating the lifestyle aspect of sailing, anchoring/mooring/docking, or basic troubleshooting. Taking these courses is a step in the right direction, but getting real sailing lifestyle experience will give you the full picture.
Step 5: Choose the Right Crew
Sailing around the world is not a solitary endeavor for everyone. Consider whether you’ll sail solo or with a crew. A capable and compatible crew can enhance the experience and ensure smoother operations.
For us, we took our first voyage with a professional captain who took us from Spain to Gibraltar. I was so thankful we did. We, unfortunately, got caught in a Force 10 storm. If it wasn’t for the captain telling me that the boat could handle the storm AND show me how to deal with it, I think I might never get on a boat again.
On our second journey, 800 miles from Gibraltar to Malta, we hired a professional captain again.
We learned more in those two journeys than our courses and previous boating experience combined. The great thing is having someone tell us, ‘it’s okay, this is normal!’ You don’t know what you don’t know and it can be scary when you’re out in big seas, turbulent weather, and ominous clouds.
When we chose to cross the Atlantic Ocean, we took four crew other than me, Simon, and Sienna. Three of the crew were experienced sailors, and three were novices. Overall it worked well. During night shifts, one experienced and one inexperienced crew were on watch. When we arrived in the Caribbean, none of us wanted to get off. It was such a memorable experience.
The great thing about crew is that you can choose when you want it and when you don’t. There are so many wonderful sailors out there eager to get experinece, it’s easy to find crew.
Step 6: Prepare for the Journey
Once you’ve purchased your boat, it’s time to prepare for your adventure. Stock up on provisions, essential safety equipment, spare parts, and tools. Create a detailed passage plan for each leg of your journey, taking into account weather patterns, potential hazards, and ports of call.
Before you set sail, ensure your boat undergoes a thorough inspection to confirm that all systems are in working order and that all safety equipment is up-to-date and functional.
Check out my Long Sailing Passage Preparation Checklist, where you’ll find action items for safety and medical, communications, passage plans, provisioning, crew briefing/watch schedules/duties, and last-minute preparations.
Sailing around the world is a remarkable and life-changing experience.
Participating in a week-long sailing lifestyle experience at the beginning of your journey will give you the foundation and confidence needed to succeed. As you embark on this incredible adventure, remember to prioritize safety, embrace the unknown, and savor every moment of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Join Simon in the Mediterranian for an unforgettable sailing lifestyle experience. Full details here: Liveaboard Sailing Experience.