Living on a sailboat isn't just a lifestyle; it's a unique adventure that offers an unparalleled sense of freedom and a deep connection with nature. If you've ever dreamed of casting off the lines and embracing life on the ocean, let us walk you through some of the key variables you need to sort out before jumping in.
First things first, you’ve gotta learn to sail
Before you head for the Bahamas, you'll need to acquire the necessary sailing skills. Enroll in sailing courses and learn about navigation, reading the wind, handling the boat, boat maintenance, etc. Practicing these skills in varying conditions will build your confidence and competence so you're well-prepared for life on the water. The last thing you need is to be in a hairy situation without the know-how to get yourself out. At Cruisers Academy, we offer sailing courses in Lake Tahoe and all the way south to Mexico. Our sailing school provides lessons for the very beginner and the experienced.
Connect with your closest sailing community
Living on a sailboat doesn't mean isolation; in fact, it opens the door to a vibrant and supportive community. Attend local sailing events, join online forums, and connect with fellow sailors on social media. The shared passion for the hobby creates lasting friendships and a network of like-minded individuals. One of the best ways to learn to sail is on other people’s boats, and your nearest yacht club surely has a race team that can teach you how to pull a sheet real fast.
Plan your finances
If you can do most of your own boat work and stick to a reasonable budget, living on a sailboat can actually be cost-effective compared to traditional living, but it's not without expenses. Factor in costs like purchasing the boat, maintenance, marina fees, insurance, fuel, and provisions. Some of the saltiest sailors sustain the lifestyle on shoestring budgets of $500 per month, while others spend a whole lot more than that. Create a realistic budget that allows you the cruising life that best suits your financial situation.
Work remotely and sail as a digital nomad
Advancements in technology have made it more than possible to work remotely while living on a sailboat. Digital nomads have chosen this lifestyle, combining work with the freedom of the open water. Secure a reliable internet connection through satellite technology and mobile hotspots, and you can work from almost anywhere. There are a bunch of ways to make money from your laptop these days.
Downsize your life as much as you can
The limited space on a sailboat necessitates a minimalist approach to possessions. On a boat, you’re only going to have so much space. When you take a minute to look around, you’ll notice most of the “stuff” you’ve got floating around your house is unnecessary. Before you get on a boat, it’s a good idea to get rid of a lot of that “stuff”. Doing so can ease into the lifestyle a bit – you can’t take an antique tea table on a boat and your PlayStation™ won’t be as alluring when you’re bobbing around in the San Blas. And hey, you might make a couple extra bucks for the cruising fund by selling those old baseball cards.
Safety is number one when living on a sailboat. Familiarize yourself with safety protocols, navigation rules, and emergency procedures. Keep equipment like life jackets, flares, fire extinguishers, emergency beacons, and a well-stocked first aid kit onboard (this list is not exhaustive). Regularly inspect your boat's systems to prevent potential issues. Back when Brady was onboard Delos, the crew put together an awesome series of videos about this topic specifically.
Choose the right sailboat for you
Aspiring and seasoned sailors alike get caught up on this part, and reasonably so. Every sailor has a different opinion on what style of boat is ideal. Honestly, they’re all right. Each style of boat has its value and every boat is a compromise. Selecting the right liveaboard sailboat for your needs is a crucial step.
Consider factors like size, layout, and intended use. You can go with the heaviest fifty-year-old bluewater boats for maximum perceived safety, or shiny new flat-bottomed French boats for uncomfortably zipping across the Gulfstream. Surely there must be a happy medium. Research boat types, join the gatekeepy forums, and connect with experienced sailors to get the hard data. You’ll build your own controversial opinion in no time. We offer private sailboat consulting for this exact problem, you can talk to Brady one-on-one to get the perfect boat for your needs.
Choose your starting destination
Living on a sailboat offers the opportunity to explore diverse and breathtaking destinations. If you’re on the East Coast, Florida is a great hopping off point. Florida has a ton of used boats for sale, and the short island hopping on the way down to Grenada is a relatively “beginner friendly” route. Hurricanes are a bummer, though.
If you’re on the West Coast, southern California is great as well; plenty of boats to choose from, Mexico cruising is fantastic, and if you get crazy, the South Pacific is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Research and plan your routes, considering weather patterns and local regulations. From secluded anchorages to vibrant coastal towns, every new destination will offer a fresh adventure.
We can teach you how to do this
Take time to reflect on your priorities, strengths, and willingness to adapt. If you want to take this lifestyle for a spin, our liveaboard sailing course is perfect for you! Our liveaboard sailing school, Cruisers Academy, offers the perfect opportunity. Check out our Mexico Cruising Course where you’ll learn everything you need to know about living on a boat and cruising the world.