Sunday, August 23, 2009

An E-mail and Answer



I have been talking to my wife for quite some time about sailing like your doing. She is interested but being the realist that she is she keeps bringing the question of money up and how that we would afford to keep sailing as neither of our jobs (aircraft mechanic and nurse) are mobile. So I was wondering are you able to work at some kind of job while sailing? We are currently saving as much as we can to make this dream come true but it is a SLOW process and we would like to do this while the youngest (currently 7yrs old) is still young.

Sorry if this question was answered in some earlier post that I haven't seen.

David Gillum and Family



Thanks for your e-mail. The whole money issue is probably the biggest set back people fac e when cutting the ties with land. This is a real lifestyle change... we went from owning our own buisness and having several car payments, credit cards etc to now having only about $150.00 per month in bills (bills that have a payment date each month that is) We no longer own a car or have a house payment (we own our boat outright). Our only two big issues are food for our huge family and boat maintenance. We have to stop and work for part of the year to do the work that needs done on the boat and to put enough away for food and living expenses for the months we are out cruising.
(A delivery with Changin Tags)

I have been delivering sailboats for about 3 years now so my oldest son and I head off every year for about 5 deliveries... either up and down the east coast or to and from the Caribbean. The money from these deliveries tends to all go right into the boat every year. We are always in need of new stuff and repairs to old stuff on the boat. I think most people who dream of living on a boat are unrealistic when they think of how much it costs to maintain a boat in "ready for sea" condition at all times. Owning it outright is the only way to go.. we also cut costs by anchoring out all of the time and doing all of our own work on the boat.

Rebecca has been a waitress for the past few years and has earned far more than she ever has before. The key is to find the right place during the right season. She earns more per day in tips in ST Thomas than I do as a Captain.

That being said, you have perfect career jobs for cruising... a nurse could have worked at any of the places we have stopped to work. She would have had a job on day one at any of our work stops... she could get a job here in Trinidad today where neither my wife or myself could. Your job as an Airplane mechanic has SERIOUS potential... we have a cruising buddy who is an airplane mech. and he does free lance work for some stateside company... they fly him back and forth to work on the planes when they need him... another friend of ours is a helicopter pilot who works in British Columbia during fire season every year and he and his family commute to and from their boat for half the year. Here is another thought... it surely wouldn't be a big deal for you to get certified on marine diesel engines... if you did that you could work anywhere cruisers are anytime... I would hire you this winter if you were anchored near me in St Thomas hehehe. Engine work is ALWAYS needed everywhere there are boats.

As a final thought... if this is a dream you share as a family and you are determined to do it, the hardest thing is to risk it all and just go... find the right boat that is seaworthy and that you can aford to buy... she may not look great when you buy her but with love and work you can turn her into a beauty... be willing to go through the stage of getting used to living in small space together... that really does go away eventually... and do what you love to do... work to live... don't live to work.
(Wandering Dolphin Before refit) (Wandering Dolphin After refit)

Good Luck!
Captain Tofer


  1. You might look into STS or Airmate as a contractor. Used to be a pretty good deal if you don't mind traveling.

  2. Just remember once you have decided its worth doing, its easy . Just buy a boat and quit your job. Doing it for 6 months at a time is great . It gives us the best of both worlds and we are allways excited to get to the boat as well as get back home . The problem is there are definatly extra costs with "commuting" , but it is far better than the alternative , which is to wait until We can afford to do it full time. I believe ther are few things in life that are truly once in a life time opportunities and sailing a heavy boat into a new anchorage with your ten yr old son at the helm . The whole family working together and pulling in the same direction. These are just some of the things that make the experience once in a lifetime. Good Luck.
    Oh, and as far as transportable jobs that lend themselves to contract / temporary work. Yours have great potential.