Author Topic: Are you a Sailor? What Advice Do You Have? Do These Finances Seem Feasible?  (Read 9112 times)

Metalcat

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This sounds like a MUCH better, saner, and more fun plan!!!

Also, where in Mexico are you thinking? I've justed started looking at snow birding in Mexico in upcoming years, so just starting to wrap my mind around the ins and outs of living there.

Omy

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This makes sense. The other thing you can do is hire someone to help you with bigger passages while you're relatively inexperienced. That will remove some of the risk when you're ready for a big change of scenery.

ixtap

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Have you looked at pricing for slips in Mexico? Last I checked, they weren't much cheaper than Southern California. A spot check shows that Mazatlan is within $20/month of Ventura, but electricity minimums are higher than my bill. Cheaper in the summer, but if you want to be there in the summer, your insurance will be an issue.

Also, have you verified with your employer that you can work from anywhere, not just anywhere in the US?

Poeirenta

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As long as this guy isn't suggesting you go cheap on the crucial safety gear like an EPIRB, ditch kit, etc, seems like a solid place to start. Sad story out of the Sea of Cortez of an American boat that is missing...very experienced sailors, but from what I understand they did not have the most up to date tech that can signal rescuers when the sh*t hits the fan.

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uneven_cyclist

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Thanks all --

Re: locations -- we're looking at La Paz as a logical jumping off point for getting into sailing in the Sea of Cortez.  Things could still change for us.  We're planning a visit in June to check it out for a week to see what it's like -- I mean, it's going to be hot obviously, but we're on a timeline here people! -- and then if we need to reassess after that we can!

Re: working remotely/slips/prices -- there is at least one person at my organization (school) who managed to set up an arrangement where they work remotely from a different country.  With that being said, it's definitely not the norm, and this will certainly be something to be worked out.  There are still unknowns at this stage in the process both for my wife and for me.  If any of you have experience navigating a similar transition, please feel free to share your experience, anything helps!  As for slip prices...I think that our plan will probably depend on finding a place where we would be able to either keep the boat on anchor on a long-term basis or keep it on a mooring ball.  So...interestingly, if Mexico falls through for whatever reason (e.g. we can't swing it with my job might be one reason) then a likely alternative location could be San Diego -- they have a lot of mooring balls there that rent for ~ $150-$200/month or something.  Haven't looked into it too closely.

Re: Safety gear and the missing boat...I saw that story too.  Very sad, and it's always upsetting when there is no resolution.  Ultimately, these boats and their crews are relatively small and fragile and the ocean is large and powerful.  The author of the book (Rick Page/Get Real, Get Gone) definitely advocates equipping your boat with robust communication/safety gear: EPIRB, VHF radio, hand-held VHF, extra hand-held GPS devices, and "a gazillion" batteries...definitely worth reading his chapters on safety + electronics if you're interested in sailing or even just emergency planning or contingency planning in general.

Re: captain for longer passages -- totally on board with that idea.  Also with the idea generally of finding crew to help for a longer passage...the one "longer" passage  I did (two days only) was relatively very short...but still long enough to make it immediately clear that sleep is important and that more people = more sleep. 



« Last Edit: April 23, 2023, 12:56:54 AM by uneven_cyclist »

atribecalledquest

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I have very similar ambitions. I have two young kids and would love to take them coastal cruising of the East Coast and maybe the Bahamas.

I started out sailing a hobie and just recently purchased it 22 ft sailboat that we are keeping at a slip at a large reservoir near our house.

if things work out well maybe in a few years we will upgrade to a mid 30 ft sailboat and do a little bit of coastal cruising.

The idea of taking the kids on an adventure and making incredible memories with them is really appealing. it also gives them real responsibility and allows them to interact with a diverse set of people of all age ranges.

BicycleB

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Moderate but mostly recent experience with moving to foreign countries; unrelated, both sides of my family as a kid had people who lived on boats. Thoughts:

0. Do you speak Spanish?
1. The good side of moving is it ups your adventure pace.
2. Poorer foreign countries having lower safety standards such as missing or defective safety equipment is a thing. Could be deadly at sea.
3. Bad side of moving is it may not save much money. Depends a lot on details of how you do it.
4. The crucial variable that you're going to have to face is the adventure vs boredom vs problem solving ratios. As a reader, I agree you want adventure/ dream fulfillment. Not sure whether you're going to run aground (so to speak) on the shoals of boredom and problem solving.
5. The gradual part's gotta gotta gotta include those DIY skills bc they save lives and make the finances viable. I say this as someone lacking them, and experience, but feel this strongly just the same.
6. If you do Sailor Sam's suggestion of finding a decrepit hull and DIYing it into a functioning boat here in USA, you'll build basic DIY / boat competence in a safe environment where starting from zero is normal, and your gumption respectable. If you start from near zero in Mexico, you're another clueless gringo. If you can stomach it, build your cheap boat first.
7. Despite my fretting, I admit that the advantage of moving soon while you work is that you will rapidly get both adventure and experience.
8. Like others, I think your FI timeline is unrealistic, but the idea of working now on your dream future is wise. Do it the way you gotta do it.
9. That said, the more you choose low-cost learning experiences, the better, especially at first.
10. So I dare you to rebuild some little boat before moving to Mexico, but keep us posted.

PS. I highly encourage the crewing idea. Also, to mix experience with side gig, how about spending some of your weekends as a boat maintenance gofer / boat cleaner?

« Last Edit: May 10, 2023, 11:40:41 AM by BicycleB »

LightStache

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Wow that escalated quickly! As a long-time blue water sailor I have a couple pieces of advice, but I'm just really impressed with your initiative. It makes me question whether I could make my "boring middle" a bit less boring.

I haven't seen this hit up-thread, but when you do buy a boat, make sure your surveyor is free from seller influence. Especially in Mexico you might have to pay extra to bring one in from out-of-town. Ideally they will be insured, but I'm not sure how common that is in Mexico and to what extent you'd have recourse if they were negligent. But what you want to avoid is buying a boat with a major problem that the surveyor "overlooked" because s/he was in cahoots with the seller/broker.

I also have to disagree with the advice to buy a project boat first. If you want to learn everything about boatbuilding and maintenance, go ahead and do that. If you want to go sailing, get a boat in good shape. You'll learn at a not-overwhelming pace doing maintenance and repairs on a boat that's been kept up.

My last suggestion is to do ASA 104 and hitch some multi-day rides on someone else's boat to learn real shiz. I occasionally day sail with a guy who bought a boat after ASA 103 and he's pretty clueless. He claims his boat has been low maintenance but it's not, he just doesn't seem to be aware of the problems that I can see. He also has some elementary sailing skill deficiencies. You're probably more serious than him, but regardless it's still a good idea to be in a student role for your first few thousand offshore miles.

Have fun! I can't wait to hear how this adventure unfolds.

JoJo

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Didn't want to start a new thread... loved some of the advice here. 

I retired a couple years ago and have the opportunity to crew on a boat in the Caribbean this fall.  Plan is to fly on one way ticket to Curacao mid-September and join a boat with 2 owners... a single guy and a couple.  46 foot boat with 4 cabins.  They share the boat, the single guy invited me, he goes home every 3 months or so to visit friends and disabled brother.  So the plan is learn sailing with him and hang out (he's moored there and takes the dinghy to land where he has a rental car most of the time).  Then later in October when the hurricane risk is clear the couple comes on board and we have 4 to head to Grenada and north island hopping from there.  I have to be off the boat by December 15 when he goes back home again and the couple wants to have on paying guests.   We've been talking daily for a couple weeks and seem we have travel compatibility, but there will be challenges for sure.   If all goes well, there's a possibility to join again later in winter and possibly sail to Mediteranian before the next hurricane season. 

I have a back-up plan in case it doesn't work out... nearly every island out there has an airport and airbnbs so with the exception of the 4 day sail, should be a couple days from civilization and a bailing point. 

How crazy is this plan? 

ixtap

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If the couple has paying guests onboard, you should be able to Google them and the boat, as well as the guy you are in contact with. Folks do this kind of thing all the time.

DH won't let me collect strangers from the internet for sailing, but according to the forums, other people do this kind of thing all the time.

JoJo

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They haven't done the guest thing yet.  I do know the name of the boat and it's location checks out on vesselfinder.  As for the guy I'm in contact with, we have shared linkedin, facebook profiles.  He sent me a picture of his ID.   We have video and audio called, sent pictures, etc.  He's retired, used to have his own business which checks out.  He gave me a live video tour of the boat.  He hasn't asked for any money... just said we share in costs (food, fuel, port charges, etc) which I'll pay as we go.      It's true that the crew finder site is many guys looking for a sailing girlfriend.  I'm going for the experience but haven't ruled that out.  Definitely a little spark but we obviously haven't met in person. 

The biggest two reservations i have... they aren't super experienced.  The guy has been sailing only a couple years.  The couple (or at least the husband) has been sailing for maybe 30 years but short stints, like 2 weeks, on rented boats.  I don't think they've done cross ocean yet.  Also, I am the odd man out on language... they all share a common European language, of which I know a couple hundred words I remember from my year of high school language.  I'm only fluent in English and mildly conversational in a 3rd language.   
« Last Edit: July 05, 2023, 09:14:17 AM by JoJo »

Dancin'Dog

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Ptf

SailingOnASmallSailboat

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Not a sailor but have friends who have been cruising for 15 years,  with 3 kids. If you haven't found Sailing Totem online yet, I highly recommend their blog and no BS, no sugar-coating approach to coaching folks interested in cruising. They are not on YouTube, but if you want lots of practical details on what it takes to do this (including the financial part), it's worth the reading. They do zoom talks from time to time also.

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Totem also offers cruising coaching, at an almost obscenely low price, to help people suss out all your questions.

I'll go read the rest of the responses but will put in a comment here that YouTube is a great place to dream of cruising but almost none of the channels is realistic. They are first and foremost entertainment - they're funding cruising in large part by putting out that content. Sailing Florence is the only one whose budget rings true - most of them conveniently leave out a lot of stuff.

(My pov: we live on and cruise on the 28' sailboat we bought over 30 years ago. We've cruised on and off over those years, with kids and not.)

LightStache

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Didn't want to start a new thread... loved some of the advice here. 

I retired a couple years ago and have the opportunity to crew on a boat in the Caribbean this fall.  Plan is to fly on one way ticket to Curacao mid-September and join a boat with 2 owners... a single guy and a couple.  46 foot boat with 4 cabins.  They share the boat, the single guy invited me, he goes home every 3 months or so to visit friends and disabled brother.  So the plan is learn sailing with him and hang out (he's moored there and takes the dinghy to land where he has a rental car most of the time).  Then later in October when the hurricane risk is clear the couple comes on board and we have 4 to head to Grenada and north island hopping from there.  I have to be off the boat by December 15 when he goes back home again and the couple wants to have on paying guests.   We've been talking daily for a couple weeks and seem we have travel compatibility, but there will be challenges for sure.   If all goes well, there's a possibility to join again later in winter and possibly sail to Mediteranian before the next hurricane season. 

I have a back-up plan in case it doesn't work out... nearly every island out there has an airport and airbnbs so with the exception of the 4 day sail, should be a couple days from civilization and a bailing point. 

How crazy is this plan?

Sailing around the Caribbean with strangers isn't too crazy. Lots of mediocre sailors in mediocre boats do it without dying. Just make sure your watch partner is proficient at man overboard recovery and tether in on rough seas and at night.

Sailing across the Atlantic is a whole different enchilada, but you don't have to commit to that yet.

SailingOnASmallSailboat

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Didn't want to start a new thread... loved some of the advice here. 

I retired a couple years ago and have the opportunity to crew on a boat in the Caribbean this fall.  Plan is to fly on one way ticket to Curacao mid-September and join a boat with 2 owners... a single guy and a couple.  46 foot boat with 4 cabins.  They share the boat, the single guy invited me, he goes home every 3 months or so to visit friends and disabled brother.  So the plan is learn sailing with him and hang out (he's moored there and takes the dinghy to land where he has a rental car most of the time).  Then later in October when the hurricane risk is clear the couple comes on board and we have 4 to head to Grenada and north island hopping from there.  I have to be off the boat by December 15 when he goes back home again and the couple wants to have on paying guests.   We've been talking daily for a couple weeks and seem we have travel compatibility, but there will be challenges for sure.   If all goes well, there's a possibility to join again later in winter and possibly sail to Mediteranian before the next hurricane season. 

I have a back-up plan in case it doesn't work out... nearly every island out there has an airport and airbnbs so with the exception of the 4 day sail, should be a couple days from civilization and a bailing point. 

How crazy is this plan?

Sailing from curaçao to Grenada will be a total slog, directly upwind and up current. Will not be a cake walk unless the weather window is insanely perfect (ie motoring).

Practical point on the one-way ticket is to have a letter from the skipper of the boat stating you’re joining the crew (or have a return ticket that’s fully refundable) as otherwise you might not be allowed to land. A country wants to make sure you’re not planning just to stay there!

Dancin'Dog

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A few years ago I was looking into sailing and trying to figure out how to get started.  I found OceanCrewLink.com , which seems like a legit way to find captains looking for crew.  Some of the listings seem to be offering to trade your labor for the sailing experience, while others seem to be looking for paying passengers.  Either way, I enjoy browsing their listings to see what's being offered, the destinations, the boat type/size, and the types of crew experience/duties expected. 


I can envision crewing on a boat could range between "the best thing ever, to the worst thing ever", depending on the captain & crew, the boat, and the weather. 


I've realized that I'll probably never take the plunge into sailing.  But I really enjoy reading about the adventures of those who have.

JoJo

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@SailingOnASmallSailboat   
Thanks for the comments!  As for the return ticket/letter from captain... this would just be in the airplane landing country (ie. Curacao)?  So as we try to enter other country nations by boat we wouldn't need return ticket?

I did more googling on the CUR-Grenada route and found similar info that you said.  The captain admitted they were hoping to wait out to find that perfect window to make the 4 day journey.  I sounds like if the wait is too long, they will sail northeast instead.  So it seems they at least know something about this.

I found this opportunity on findacrew.net if anyone is thinking about this... that and crewbay appear to be the currently used websites for connecting boats and crew. 

SailingOnASmallSailboat

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Just read through the thread. So much great advice/comments in here.

A number of people have commented on the financial angle, which is one of the direct questions you posed. Some practicalities that might surprise:

1) As noted already, insurance can be extremely difficult to find for an older boat especially. Good Old Boat magazine devoted much of a recent issue to this conundrum - I know that every year we hold our breaths to see if we’ve been renewed. Friends with a brand-new performance catamaran had exactly ONE company that would insure them; i think their insurance costs (for cruising in the eastern Caribbean, with a lot of the chain off limits for half the year) are what you thought you might spend as a total budget for a year. Insuring a boat as a live aboard makes the bar even higher.
2) Slips that allow liveaboards in the USA are becoming increasingly harder and more expensive. Some places have years long wait lists.
3) While a project boat looks appealing price-wise, boat projects take a lot longer and cost a lot more than even experienced DIY boaters can imagine. And if you’re trying to do major work on the weekends only, that will likely add a lot to the time required.  Weather has a way of conspiring against you. Living on a boat that you’re also trying to do major work on is not a lot of fun - ask me how I know. Having now had 2 project boats if we ever get another boat we’ll spend more money up front to get one with only the regular amount of stuff to do.
4) A good survey might give you the general lay of the land, but surveyors miss things all the time. Plus, boats have the unnerving habit of being just fine one day and decidedly less fine the next. You’ll want a separate engine and rig survey as well - most regular surveyors don’t pay a lot of attention to those critical systems other than “yep it’s there”
5) A few people have mentioned their purchase/maintenance/sales price, making it clear that boats are NOT appreciating assets.  If your return to land is contingent on selling the boat for what you have in it, be prepared to be on board a whole lot longer than you expect.

It sounds like you’re thinking of moving to Mexico for the boat hunt and life. Many pros and cons of course but one to consider is availability of parts.

As far as numbers go, can you cruise all in on $4000 a month? Everything depends on your choices.

Some other resources to check out:
Sailing Totem - cruising coaching, wealth of useful practical knowledge. Behan also co-authored a book on cruising with kids. Totem is on year 3 (I think 3) of a total boat overhaul in northern Mexico.
The Boat Galley (online courses, podcast, and useful website) Carolyn and her husband Dave live aboard their Gemini in Marathon, Florida. (Full disclosure: I’m affiliated with the podcast so clearly think the info there is good lol)
Annapolis boat show’s Cruisers University
Women Who Sail Facebook group for the female contingent
Good Old Boat magazine
Don Casey’s This Old Boat book

Clearly I’m east-coast biased as that’s what I know.


uneven_cyclist

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Hey All,

I wanted to post an update on where we are with all of this because it's been awhile and folks shared some hugely helpful advice when I first posted.

Quick update on our plan/progress toward saving for cruising:


Savings Goal/Target to Go Cruising = $1.6M
Overall Retirement Savings Target = $2M (this includes $400k to buy a house)
Necessary Side Hustle Income (Annual): $10k (this makes it possible to leave to go sailing about a year earlier)
Boat = $100k monohull -- after reading everyone's advice, the initial catamaran idea did not really seem feasible.
Expenses = $50-70k annually
Current NW = $580k
Annual Savings = $100k
ETA to departure = still 5-7 years

I just reread this whole thread and was so impressed again by everyone's advice...Omy and Metalcat sharing some fantastic advice about relationship dynamics, and josiecat and SailingOnASmallSailboat sharing so much practical advice.

I wanted to post, because I think my last update was that we had come up with a six-month plan to move to Mexico and a 12-month plan to move aboard.

This did not quite happen, and ironically, I think it actually ended up putting a lot of strain on our relationship, especially in terms of the pressure for her to find a new job.  We have come together and debriefed all of it and I think come out of it closer, but that does not mean that there aren't still a lot of question marks.

But -- setting all of that aside for a moment, we did do some pretty cool things during that time! 

We did visit La Paz, Mexico as a family and saw what it was like, and checked out what must be one of the most amazing beaches in the world (Playa Balandra) and saw all of the sailboats anchored in the La Paz Channel and walked around and saw the marinas and enjoyed a few great days at the beaches there.

On a separate trip, about a month ago, she returned to Mexico a second time and participated in an all-womens' sailing course and had an amazing experience on so many levels.

So...while we haven't quite figured out how to have as much sailing and nature in our lives as we are both craving, we are at least making some strides.

After she came back from her sailing course in Mexico, she has been super excited about sailing which has been pretty cool.  She found a job that she wants to apply to and also another destination that suddenly and very randomly popped onto my radar as a potential place to explore living aboard and sailing is Maine...so possible options we're thinking about right now = SoCal, Baja, PNW, and, now, Maine. 

One of the things I had not quite realized when I posted initially is that even though she really does want to explore this adventure, it is also really scary for her to give up her career -- it is a big part of her identity and so that makes total sense.  Much of the way we have been imagining all of this feels like it hinges completely on her finding either a remote job or a job in a better place to live (I already have a remote job) and I think that has been a lot of pressure, kind of for both of us.

In my head, I find myself grappling almost constantly with what feel like impossible relationships between space, work, timing, geography, money, and my marriage.  An example of this -- if we had the $1.6M I mentioned at the top of this post (i.e. "money") then it would feel feasible to take on the challenges that go along with moving aboard a boat (less space).  Without "money" then it feels really risky to take on the challenge of moving aboard, because then it's necessary to work for money...*while* living in a smaller space...which seems like too much stress for the system to handle.  So then I think about...what if we were to move someplace cheaper (basically anywhere other than where we are now since we live in LA) and we could rent an apartment *and* buy a small Catalina or something and cruise on it on the weekends while we work toward FI?  OR, what if we were to buy that same small Catalina and just go cruise in the Sea of Cortez right now and pause work for a couple/few years to do it?  But in that scenario, would we ever regain momentum toward FI?

So...I'm trying to figure out how to sift out a single plan from all of that noise and just settle, calmly, onto a course.  I think it's probably just grinding it out till we reach FI, and then if we catch a good break in our careers we might have the opportunity to make a move to a better environment than LA.

In the meantime, my wife and I will continue to communicate about all of this, and if folks have any ideas for some ways to navigate these challenges, I would of course welcome your suggestions!

Almost forgot to mention, we're going to take our son (now three years old) sailing for the first time when my wife's parents come to visit in a couple of weeks on one of our sailing club's boats (a Cal 2-25).  So that has to be a milestone as well right?!

I'll circle back again and post an update if we pass another milestones, hopefully sooner than a year from now.  Thanks again all!

Omy

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Great update! It sounds like you're making progress toward your goal and working through the relationship stuff as it comes up. I feel a lot more hopeful that you can pull this off now that your expectations are more realistic. Wishing you fair winds and following seas through the rest of your journey!

ixtap

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Can you take the club boats over to Catalina overnight? Great experience to have!

uneven_cyclist

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Can you take the club boats over to Catalina overnight? Great experience to have!

We can't take the boats in our club out to Catalina because they only allow daysailing.  However, there is another club in LA that I want to check out soon that's more geared toward trips to Catalina and maybe even the Channel Islands.  We would have to figure out the budgeting since that club is a bit more expensive -- ~$1000/person per year as opposed to our current club which is $300/year per person.

If we could get some experience with overnight trips in a club environment, that would be well worth it though, esp. if we could figure out how to reduce our expenses a bit in some other areas.

Will keep you posted if we end up going that route!

Not Sure

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Re: Are you a Sailor? What Advice Do You Have? Do These Finances Seem Feasible?
« Reply #72 on: February 04, 2024, 09:44:37 AM »
Couldn't you solve two problems by living aboard in/near LA?  You then might be able to save some of that insane apartment rent while getting closer to your dream?

JoJo

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Didn't want to start a new thread... loved some of the advice here. 

I retired a couple years ago and have the opportunity to crew on a boat in the Caribbean this fall.  Plan is to fly on one way ticket to Curacao mid-September and join a boat with 2 owners... a single guy and a couple.  46 foot boat with 4 cabins.  They share the boat, the single guy invited me, he goes home every 3 months or so to visit friends and disabled brother.  So the plan is learn sailing with him and hang out (he's moored there and takes the dinghy to land where he has a rental car most of the time).  Then later in October when the hurricane risk is clear the couple comes on board and we have 4 to head to Grenada and north island hopping from there.  I have to be off the boat by December 15 when he goes back home again and the couple wants to have on paying guests.   We've been talking daily for a couple weeks and seem we have travel compatibility, but there will be challenges for sure.   If all goes well, there's a possibility to join again later in winter and possibly sail to Mediteranian before the next hurricane season. 

I have a back-up plan in case it doesn't work out... nearly every island out there has an airport and airbnbs so with the exception of the 4 day sail, should be a couple days from civilization and a bailing point. 

How crazy is this plan?

Sailing from curaçao to Grenada will be a total slog, directly upwind and up current. Will not be a cake walk unless the weather window is insanely perfect (ie motoring).

Practical point on the one-way ticket is to have a letter from the skipper of the boat stating you’re joining the crew (or have a return ticket that’s fully refundable) as otherwise you might not be allowed to land. A country wants to make sure you’re not planning just to stay there!

So... I spent 3 months on the boat last year.  Worked out well, I shared food, drink, touring, and diesel costs, but not any boat maintenance costs.  Was probably around $50/day to sail around the caribbean.  In return, I set up breakfast, made salads for lunch daily, and cooked dinner about 5x week (we usually ate out 2x).  I also helped clean, night watch, shared in sailing (I probably got more out of that in the free training)

We were able to visit the islands of Curacao, Little Curacao, Grenada, Carriacou, Petite Martinique, Union Island, Tabago Cays, Bequia, St Vincent, St Lucia, and Martinique.  So awesome! 

As for the ride from Curacao to Grenada... we got extremely lucky and had no wind for 4 days so we did the trip on motor on calm seas.  There were days we could see reflections of clouds and we had a couple days that dolphins would swim along the boat for extended time... was magical.

Things worked out so well that I'm getting back on the boat for 6-12 weeks this month (6 in the Caribbean, and a possible Atlantic crossing, I'd be the 5th crew so they don't necessarily need me). 


BicycleB

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^Excellent!!