Can you guess what the #1 question that we get asked is? It usually sounds something like this, “This is none of my business, and you don’t have to answer, but how can you afford to live on a boat?” Or some variation of that.
Some of the funnier versions of that same question that we have heard include, “Are you a trust fund baby?”, and “Is that your dad’s boat?”
Let me lay it all out here. No we are not trust fund babies. Yes we fully, outright, own this boat. No we did not win the lottery. Yes we worked very hard to get to where we are. No we cannot afford to keep sailing and not working forever. Yes I see one of us having to work within the next year.
Here is the back story.
Eben worked extremely hard to 6 years doing a “sales/commission” job in the states that he did not enjoy. He did door-to-door and managed an office for 5 of those years. That job was very hard on him. The stress, the time away from the family, and THE STRESS! He wasn’t enjoying life while we was working that job. I thought he would have an early heart-attack due to it (seriously). But the money was good. Real good.
He saved up a bunch of that money. He also bought a car, and a house, and we lived debt free, outside of our mortgage. When you are making that kind of money it is really hard to walk away from it. But the toll that it was taking on him was too much.
He was having panic attacks in the middle of the night and had anxiety levels that were through the roof. It was time to do something a little more enjoyable.
When we decided to sail we sold the car, put all of our belongings in storage and took off, on our savings. When we bought Necesse we got her for cheap. But cheap for a reason. She had been holed in a hurricane, beached, and needed A LOT of love.
That was the only way we could afford a 41ft boat, is if it was in ruins. So we bought her, knowing that it would mean at least a year of work needed to be invested in her.
But this we could afford. We don’t live outside our means.
The next income we had was a year later when we flew home to give birth to Ellia. We stayed in Canada for five months, and in that time Eben did another stint with that job he hated that made us good cash. Like I said, hard to walk away from. Then we were off again.
Although we are good at watching our money, we are not that frugal. We know it as one of our faults. Especially when it comes to food and drink. We do our best to cook on the boat, to save some money, and often we succeed. But then we will have times when the fun to be had hanging out at the beach bar with friends totally outweighs the worry of losing another $50 dollars in drinks. For us what is the point of doing this adventure if we can’t be enjoying it too.
When we reached the Dominican Republic money was getting tight again. This is at the same time that we realized that our house in Canada, which we still owned and rented, was not really making us any money and was causing us a big amount of stress trying to manage it from abroad.
We decided to sell.
We figured with that money we could continue cruising for a while and keep a lump sum in savings for our next “home” property. That didn’t really happen. We sold it and sailed it all away!
We are now in the Virgin Islands and we are starting to notice the lows in our account again. It is nothing to really stress about, we are not hitting $0, but we are at a point where we are thinking that one of us will have to work again in the near future to give the savings a good boost again.
Here is where our minds have been going to MAKE SOME MONEY:
-Eben has always been able to make $ helping other cruisers with boat work (repairing sails, sewing cushions, fixing stuff) so that is an option. He is really good at it, but again, it is not a passion of his. It is something he would do for some extra cash. This will not “make” us money, but it will help sustain the lifestyle. It’s an option.
-Eben has considered getting his captain’s licence during our hurricane season in Grenada. That way he could pick up a charter job in the VIs next season. There are a ton of opportunities for that type of work here. So if anyone is looking for work while sailing, the USVIs has it in the charter world. And he would like to have some sort of “diploma” under his belt, so it would kill two birds…
-I have started trying to monetize the blog. But honestly I am totally learning about this stuff and have no hope that will bring us anything more than maybe $5 a month! Little things like becoming affiliates to products we like, adding Amazon search tools on the blog, writing some paid articles, and that trusted Paypal button, but that is just nonexistent small change for now…maybe it will bring us something in a few years when this blog blows up and gets famous! (but that’s like banking on the lottery!)
*And to the mystery guy that has been donating $20 every now and then to our PayPal fund, I wish I could thank you better but you have left us no contact info for you. So if you read this…THANK YOU, it does not go unnoticed.
-But most importantly we are just keeping our minds open to any option that may present itself. No matter how crazy it may seem at first, if we are open to work, something interesting may present itself. (Minus selling my body for cash that is, that’s not so interesting.) This is why every now and again you will catch us dreaming about moving to Italy and working there, or Tanzania, or Grenada.
We may seem to be totally unorganized and “everywhere“. But because we are willing to consider it all, weigh out the pros and cons, and go from there, we have hope that something really cool may present itself someday. We also know that no job is “below” us. If we need money we will work for it. We will not go broke because of an ego thing.
That is how we have been doing it. Mostly on our savings, being willing to sell it all and put it all into a lifestyle that we deem interesting enough to pursue. And by not turning down an adventure merely because of the expense (because often those adventures have turned into really fruitful endeavours for us).
Forget the lottery. Forget the inheritance. This early retirement for us will not last forever and so we are enjoying it to the max and trying not to worry too much about when the next paycheck will come. Or from where it will come.
ps. this is also one of the reasons we tend to gravitate towards warmer climate countries. Often the cost of living is much less. 🙂
Great write up, Genevieve! Thanks for sharing such an intimate part of your lives 🙂
Thanks. I have also been enjoying your posts of your Japanese modelling career!
Thanks for sharing! I've been reading a lot of "cost" posts lately, and it's actually refreshing to see that you guys have not gotten it all figured out yet – because you are still OUT THERE doing it. Congrats on that.
I recently finished my Culinary degree – specifically to work on charter boats in the future if we run into the exact same situation you are in. I hear the money is good, and it happens to be something I love. My husband has finished his Dive Master cert and will be completing Dive Instructor before we head out – for the exact same reason. We have done the hard, stress-filled jobs and look forward to doing things we love that also support our cruising lifestyle.
I hope you guys find things that you love that also allow you to support your gorgeous kids and keep on sailing. Good luck! 🙂
Looks like you guys are ticking all the right boxes for a good backup plan with the culinary school and the dive instructor. There is definitely demand for both those positions here in the Virgin Islands. It's incredible the amount of charter boats here and they need to have employees for all of them. No lack of work. Let's hope you can go a while before having to use those skills to work, but the jobs that both your creds would provide sound like fun jobs too!
Great post! We hope to get busy on boat work within the month and FINALLY start cruising by the end of this year .. or next Spring at the latest. The amount of stress and anxiety we live with is too much .. and the sad thing is we aren't even compensated all that much. As you mentioned, I worry about Ken having a heart attack!
Ken worries more about our future finances more than I do, but I keep reminding him that no matter what … hanging on to this life ain't worth it!
I need to read this post to him .. and work on getting him to hurry up and quit .. LOL!
Eben always tells me not to worry about moment, that he can do all the worrying for the two of us. Well of course that doesn't work and I don't want him taking on two peoples worth of financial questions but I get where he is coming from. He wants to protect me. It is kind. I hope you guys get through your boat work quick enough. We are still doing boat work but do it in prettier places now (our boat is fully stocked with tools and boat parts waiting to be put in!)
I love following your families adventure! After spending a week in the keys last year on a catermaran with our family of 5 and everyone loving it, I can't hardly think of anything else! I hope to one day do what you guys do! Thank for showing us how doable it is!
It's totally doable, not always the easiest, but doable, and the perks of this life are awesome!
Great write up! We have people assume a lot of things about us when we tell them what we're doing too. They have NO idea how much saving, planning and dedication it took to get to where we are…and we've only got enough stashed away to get us through for a couple years. We figure by then we'll know if we want to continue or not and know when we have to find some sort of income again. I like your approach on the matter 🙂 ~Jackie
I like that line "enough stashed up to know if you will want to continue or not" because that's really what it comes down to. You never know, something else may pop up that seems like "hey this suits us better" and go with that. We are not married to sailing, but it is one heck of an adventure!
Hi Genevieve! You mentioned that there is work to be had for a charter captain down in the USVI's? I'm semi-retiring in four years and am planning on sailing down there. I am debt free and will have a paid-for boat at that time. I'll have a bit of a cruising kitty, but will need to find work to sustain myself (food, any boat maintenance, etc.). I sail all the time and could have my 360 day requirement by that time. I've been through all the ASA schools, but I've been seriously thinking of getting my 50-ton USCG license. I was wondering if the USVI's are saturated with Captains or if I would be able to find work down there skippering. Can you comment on the available captains vs. the work available down there? Thank you SO MUCH!! =)
Hi Steve, yes there is a lot of work available here, for both captains and skippers. We know a couple that went in just last week to one of the charter companies and they were hired on the spot to charter a cat next season, him as captain her as skipper. We have another couple that we know that have had multiple offers (him capt, her crew) and we also have another friend that is just skippering on a "pirate style" day booze cruise. So it totally depends on the type of work that you want but there are jobs for both captains and skippers here
Hi Genevieve, I really enjoyed reading this post as I can relate to it. My other half also has a very stressful high powered job which is really taking it's toll on his health. Our ultimate aim is to give it all up and sail around the world on our boat. It's now just a case of actually taking the plunge! Looking forward to reading your future posts.
Hi Gina, I hope that you guys can find a way to make it out on to a boat. I know the toll that a high stress job can take on someome's happiness. I wish you guys all the best. And thank you for reading.
Really enjoyed your post…and wouldn't you know, How-do-we-afford-this, was the first post I went to. We are doing many of the same things you are but are part-time cruising…take the boat somewhere and leave it. It is currently in St John's, Newfoundland…we like the cooler weather, the quiet, the amazing boldness. Your link with Sailrite works, I checked it out right away.
Love the design of your site too! Check us out at http://gonesailing.finnevans.ca/
I love following you and your lovely family’s adventures, watching your girls grow and learn! Thank you for such honest, heart felt posts. I wish you and yours all the good fortune, health and happiness there is to be had.
Thank you so much for following and watching all of our adventures. I am glad you enjoy it. xoxo
Thank you for the write up. I’ve been struggling for several years trying to get back to sailing after some life changes made it much more difficult. I’m always looking for some inspiration to figure out how to make it happen again. Too often we get stuck in “wait another year” year after year after year.