We get asked many questions about living on a sailboat. They include: what do we do when we see pirates, what’s the best boat to go cruising in, how much does it cost to buy a boat/live the cruising life, and how do we do our passage plans?
Also, what’s it like sailing in storms and sailing at night, what’s life like for a kid on a boat (homeschooling and socialization), and how do we manage our provisioning and cooking?
Finally, how do we run a blog/youtube channel/social media (and make money) from remote locations, and how can we help you to convince your partner to go sailing?
Get all these questions answered about living on a sailboat below.
What do we do when we see Pirates?
This is one of the top three questions we get asked. Since 2014 we have only experienced one potential occurrence of pirates. When sailing from Trinidad to Grenada a fishing about started yelling at us. It was 3am so both Simon and I were alarmed. The boat started to charge at us and Simon quickly spun the boat around the fishing boat yelling all sorts of profanity.
Simon also yelled down the companionway saying, ‘Come up boys and bring out the guns!’
At the time it was only me and Simon in the cockpit.
Our daughter was fast asleep down below. We turned on the engine, and headed away as fast as we could. The fishing boat didn’t follow us. We think they were opportunists from Venezuela.
Otherwise, while living on a sailboat in the Med and the Caribbean, we never ran into any trouble. We’ve never even seen refugee’s trying to cross international waters although we did hear over the radio that they were in our area.
For the most part, we’ve never gone anywhere near places where Pirates have been reported.
Simon and I have sailed into some sketchy places but we always felt safe. Algeria was a bit scary but that’s because our stop was unplanned and we didn’t know what to expect (armed bodyguards, being under boat arrest, etc.)
So 99.9% of the time there’s been absolutely nothing to worry about. There are far more serious things to spend time on – preparing for engine failure and knowing what to do when caught in storms come to mind.
What’s the best living on a sailboat to go cruising in?
The answer is, ‘it depends!’ It depends on where you’re going to sail, who you’re sailing with (how many able bodies you’ll have to help sail the boat), what your preferences are and of course there’s that small issue regarding the budget to contend with.
I wrote an article about my thoughts about buying the RIGHT boat and Simon and I also recorded a video entitled, Buying A Sailboat – Prioritizing What Matters Most. If you’re currently contemplating what would make the best boat for you/your family, read and watch this: Buying A Sailboat – Prioritizing What Matters Most
How much does it cost to buy a boat?
You don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s the biggest problem with buying, maintaining and sailing a boat. Most of us full-time cruisers look back realizing we were not fully aware of all the boat ownership costs.
Financial costs include the one-off costs associated with buying and preparing the boat to sail. There are also routine costs such as repairs, maintenance, berthing fees and so forth.
As for the on-going living on a sailboat costs, there seems to be an unwritten (or hidden) rule of thumb…
The rule is that newbies fork out a massive amount of money the first year or two of sailing. Usually, by year three they hit a sweet spot of acceptable costs. This rule goes for new boat owners and used alike.
Not wanting to sound negative about the boat buying process, but the majority of boat owners spend an exceedingly massive amount of money UNNECESSARILY. And that’s present company included. Like I mentioned above, you don’t know what you don’t know and that causes big mistakes.
Nothing’s worse than an extra $10,000 bill three months after buying your dream boat.
To answer the question as to how much it costs to buy a boat, you need to figure out what you want, when you want it, where you want to sail it (and several other key decisions).
The best way for me to help you is to tell you about all the costs associated with buying, maintaining and sailing a boat and you can then fill in the blanks.
Within my Sailboat Buying Guide For Cruisers, there’s a section on boat ownership costs. Here are some examples of what it lists.
One-off costs to buy the boat
- Travel costs for viewings, professional survey and eventual collection
- Transportation (By water: Skipper or by land: Haulage company)
- Berth/slip/dock/storage fee that current owner is contracted to pay (will you be taking over that liability?)
- …plus 17 more potential costs
One-off costs to prepare the boat for your purposes (getting it ready to do what you want to do with it)
- Rigging – rigging needs to be changed every 10+ years in order for most insurance companies to provide 100% coverage for a demasting. More importantly, it’s a safety concern.
- Communications equipment (VHF, SSB, SAT Phone, other). In addition to having all the equipment necessary for your plans, items like SAT Phones only work with the purchase of airtime.
- …plus 50 more considerations
Ongoing living on a sailboat costs
- Insurances (Boat, health, and specialty insurance ex. hurricane lift-out, helicopter evacuation, medical advice)
- Anchorages at each location (Anchoring permit/fee, rubbish/trash removal, boat boy fee (help to anchor/get a mooring ball)
- …plus 20 more categories with well over 100 potential costs including ‘The things you don’t think of’
Consider the price you’ll pay if you buy a boat with massive hidden costs…and then consider the cost of this guide. Which one would you rather pay for?
As with all my guides, if you don’t find that the information provided highly valuable, I will happily refund your money. No questions asked.
Buyer Feedback: “Informative and on the mark for first-time buyers.” Robert Henofer. “A brilliant read and has given us plenty to consider having just made an offer on our first boat. Very useful.” Alan Bell
Passage Plans – How do we plan our passages?
Check out my Passage Planning – 7 Steps Checklist (Video included) for a run down as to how we plan our passages. We offer our thought process, why we do what we do and how we do it. We also include the navigational software we use in addition to weather forecasting.
And if you’ve seen any of our YouTube videos you’ll know that a great majority of them show Simon planning our passages from one island to the next. If you’re going to sail the Caribbean, make sure to watch all our Caribbean videos to get the full scoop on how we planned our passages. Watch our Caribbean Playlist here.
Sailing in Storms
Gosh, storms are not fun! People don’t want to think about storms when living on a sailboat!
We’ve been caught out in some big storms around four times. The first was our maiden voyage on Britican from Palma Mallorca to Gibraltar. Sienna and I laid in bed the whole time wishing we were dead. I puked up loads. You can actually watch a video we did during that passage here. (This is one of my first videos and I’m not even holding the camera right! It’s really bad but you’ll get an idea of what it was like…) Bad weather hits around 3:53 in the video.
The next bad storm was from Gibraltar to Malta an 850-mile passage.
Can you believe that it was our second trip on Britican! We had to pull into Algeria (North Africa) of all places because we just could stand the storm any longer…and a sail ripped. My girlfriend Ene who’s a photographer took some great photos of the trip – you can check those out here: Sailing from Gibraltar to Malta
Our third worst storm was from Gibraltar to Morocco to prepare to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
This storm was horrendous. Our guest, Richard, sailed with us for a couple of weeks. Most of the experience was great…but he did experience a storm too. It’s worth reading his account because he never sailed before and it’s an outsider’s opinion on what storms are like. Check Richards account here.
Simon did a video about Sailing in Storms too. Check that out here.
And our worst, worst, worst passage ever was from Bermuda to America. OMG…this passage was terrible. Just read my article and watch the video here: (OR…perhaps don’t read it or watch it. I might put you off sailing. OR…just don’t sail in the Bermuda Triangle!)
What can I say about storms that sum it all up?
They happen. The best thing to do is to be prepared. Understand what you have to do to make you and the boat as safe and comfortable as possible and then get on with living on a sailboat.
Sailing at Night
Sailing at night is great. It’s far easier to sail at night than it is during the day. At night you can see all the boats around. And there’s nothing major going on so it’s very relaxing.
Read my account about night sailing here.
Homeschooling while living on a boat and social life for a kid!
Well, homeschooling on a boat is just like homeschooling on land accept it’s a bit more challenging. Around 50% of the time we do not have Internet access so we can’t do any online schooling systems. I have to buy books and usually, I send them to guests who fly out with them or I stock up when I return to the US or the UK.
Let me give you some articles/videos that you can look at regarding how we do homeschooling aboard Britican…and what it’s like to be a boat kid.
- What does a boat kid get up to? Here’s a video of Sienna when she was five-years-old. It goes through the sights she saw, the friends she made, how she played and loads more. It’s a great video to show to a kid as to what boat life is like. Watch on YouTube here.
- Homeschooling a five-year-old This article is an update after 1 1/2 years of cruising as to how homeschooling was going for us. Find out what wall I hit and how I changed course?! Read here.
- Voyaging With Kids: This is a video about project-based learning. Sienna wanted to make some money so she started a company. Find out what she wanted the money for, what her product was and whether she made any sales. Watch now.
- Voyaging With Kids – A Treasure Hunt. This video on YouTube is a treasure hunt that our boat neighbor made for our daughter. It shows a lovely relationship between our daughter and Captain Brad. Boat kids don’t just play with their peers…they have friends of all ages. Sienna has been blessed with so many very cool friends.
And if you watch any of our traveling videos Sienna always plays a part. A more recent video that shows a lot of kid activities is our Bequia, St Vincent Video. There were loads of kid boats around!
How do I manage provisioning and cooking on a boat
Looking through all my articles I haven’t written enough about provisioning. I’ve added it to my list so watch this space!
Regarding cooking, we have a whole section on the website dedicated to things we cook. I’ve really gotten into using the solar cooker to cook with too. If you’ve never heard of a solar cooker, it’s amazing. You can actually cook with the sun! Head over to Britican’s Galley to find out more about solar cooking and great boat recipes.
How do I run a blog, YouTube Channel, social media? How do I make money?
There are two sides to this question. The first is how do we connect to the Internet and the second is how do we make it all work. I have a guide entitled, ‘How To Make Money Sailing Around The World’ and that goes through all the ways that we earn money. The guide, however, is currently under a re-draft so watch this space. It will be back up soon. If you’re interested in the guide, email me at Kim@SailingBritican.com and I’ll send you a copy when it’s ready.
How can I help you convince your wife to do what we do?
Your best bet is to get your wife to read my book ’Changing Lifestyles – Trading The Rat Race In For A Sail Around The World’
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