I bought it in Holland, and knew absolutely nothing about boats when I started out. My thought was that the only regrets you have when you get old are all the things you didn't do. Besides I'm enough of a businessman that I'd be able to sell it without a loss if it didn't work out. So I gave it try.
Four years later I'm still here and wouldn't want to live any other way. The boat is paid for so my only expenses are $200 a month in harbour rent and roughly another $200 a month on repairs. Internet isn't a problem since 3G is everywhere now - I can surf hacker news while at anchor somewhere off the coast of Sweden.
The upsides are pretty obvious: A gret free lifestyle, beautiful views, ducks right outside your window and the ability to go anywhere you want (within limits...)
The downsides are that it's cold in the winter, you don't have a lot of space, and you need to become a bit of a handyman. I've bought powertools I didn't know existed five years ago.
But overall it can only be recommended. Oh, and drop me a line if you're ever in Copenhagen I'll take you for a trip through the harbour, it's beautiful just before the sun sets.
He tells me the harbour rental is one of best kept secrets. He only pays $100/mnth (a 1bdr studio in the area would go for $2100/mth) and lives in a beautiful yacht, with a master room and guest space, just minutes away from the downtown core and all the essentials. It's the kind of free-spirited lifestyle i'd like to live in the near future.
My question is, how do you deal with icy water? don't you have to pull out the boat when ice starts to form? In Toronto you could pretty much skate out on the lake in winter.
Basically what happens is that your boat just gets stuck in the ice and moves with the ebb and flow of the water.
The only problem you have is that you can't go anywhere until the ice breaks up. Last winter I got stuck in the ice somewhere in the Copenhagen harbour a few miles from my homeport and ended up staying there for almost three months. Here's a picture: http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=oa2m2b&s=7
Side note as someone who grew up in Toronto and lived in the downtown core for several years: A studio would go for under $1200/mo. You can get a pretty swanky 1bdrm for under $1400/mo. Though I have no doubt one could also find an apartment for much more than $2100/mo, too.
I did a quick search for monthly boat fees to park them in the marina, looks like it's around $20.25/ft/mo . Any idea which marina your friend uses?
In my part of the world that's pretty cheap. Might be expensive elsewhere though.
I see yachts selling for over $500k...
I am seriously considering this. Can you please point me to some links? I am in NYC. Maybe I can buy a yacht somewhere else and sail it to NYC?
You'd do well to keep your VHF radio open on channel 16 though(this is where boats communicate with each other when at sea). I've had customs call med up when passing the border from the Netherlands to Germany to hear who I was and where I was going. Once they got a satisfactory answer we never heard from them again.
I've kind of shelved it for now since I'm pretty busy doing other things, but I hope that I'll have time to do it within the next year sometime. I don't think it's a great way of making money though, so it's not a top priority. More like a hobby project.
Have always wanted to do this.
How do you shower?
Overall I'm happy and would buy the same kind of boat again. The Dutch build excellent boats and have for centuries. The only thing that bothers me is that since it's a canal boat it has very low draft (0.8 meters) and almost no keel which is great if you're sailing in canals that aren't very deep, but makes for a pretty rocky ride once you hit some real waves.
I'd never buy a wooden boat, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone that doesn't work professionally with wood.
Can you not sail south for winter to the Medditterranian? South of France or Italy would be a nice warm place to overwinter.
I made the decision in 30 minutes. Bought the ticket, committed myself, sold most of my stuff, said good bye to most people I know. The plan is to visit 50 countries in the next 5 years. Leaving on Jan 3rd.
I am too content with my life. Sometimes you need a kick in the butt to get out of your comfort zone. The world is too big and not enough time.
A similar thing happened to me recently. About a year or two ago I broke up with my girlfriend of eleven years and started to think what a waste everything had been during that time. We weren't married, no children etc and so when she left all ties were pretty much cut. Bam, there goes eleven years!
I went on holiday with a friend a few months later to cheer me up, and I met a new lady, and just last week I moved to Prague with her after spending some time travelling in the Middle East.
I gave up a decent job, sold all my possessions, left all my old friends behind and just went for it. I made up my mind on a wet rainy evening in Sheffield after watching another crap episode of regional news. I don't know what clicked that evening but it was sudden.
It's the best decision I have ever made. The alternative was to just sit around and carry on doing the same old stuff that I wasn't really excited about. Giving everything up is really tough, selling all your possessions is even harder but it's very cathartic.
The saying Life's what happens when you're busy making other plans comes to mind. If you have something you want to do but aren't sure about whether the hassle is worth it - it probably is :)
I took a chance and started visiting someone I'd met online, it went well so I gave up everything and moved to Canada. I'm now married, I have a good job with good bosses and good coworkers (in the year I've worked there, I haven't seen a single bit of drama).
What made me want to do all this? The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin by P.D. Ouspensky, basically the man made all his decisions wrong in life and is tortured by it at the end of his life as he relives his life unable to make a change for the better.
I realized I could either regret life, or not.
I'd recommend taking that half of the plan out, and just shorten it to "travel for 5 years or so". Chances are you'll find at least one country that traps you for an entire year. Probably best not to set yourself up to feel bad about it.
BTW, having lived in Malaysia and visited some SE Asian countries, I highly recommend it (KL, Langkawi), Singapore and Thailand; but then again, these places were probably on your list already.
One of the reasons I am doing this is my life is too easy and predictable. If I try to prepare too much on what "exactly" I will be doing on my travel or what I will do after 5 years; that defeats the whole purpose of doing this. I want to keep planning to the minimum and just flow with whatever happens. It might end up badly or it might be an awesome experience and I am mentally prepared for both and fine with both.
Loneliness is not a problem for me because I am an introvert and I actually enjoy quite alone time.
Yes I do plan to travel to singapore, thailand, malaysia. My plan is to start from asia and neighboring countries; as I get more used to travelling I will try other continents.
I don't have any plans to come back to USA, for now.
Have to go there during summer, if I do. :)
The only thing I can think of that would get most people to do that would be heartbreak. Did somebody leave you?
Something clicked inside me. I have been wanting to do this for a long time but always had some kind of lame excuse not to do it.
Bangladesh is South Asian, not Southeast Asian.
Go easy on the street food, at least at first. Get a water filter or, at the least, boil all your water. If you are fluent in Bangla, always speak it. And if you're not, then best of luck. Don't try and give away that you are from the West, everyone will try to take advantage of you. Know your crowd and where you are; it's still a very conservative country.
I can't speak too much about the quality of infrastructure there in recent years, but the last time I was there ~5 years ago it was abysmal. I don't imagine too much has changed, though I hear you can get somewhat decent internet depending on where you live.
Sounds like a lot of negatives. And, they are, at least to a spoiled American like me. However, there is a lot of beauty in the country as well. Check out Cox's Bazar, St Martin's Island, Patenga beach all in the south. Take a steamer out to Barisal for a day.
I highly recommend it. All of it, or any part of it.
Selling and giving away all my accumulated crap was liberating beyond what I could have ever imagined. Getting out of the rut of daily life in one place and going to see lots of new places breeds a zen-like state of peace over the minutiae of everyday life (I guess your comfort zone just expands to be really wide). Living smaller means you can focus on the things that really matter. Cost of living can be as high or low as you want it to; I'm currently parked in an RV park that is home to formerly homeless people who've been placed in RVs by a charity organization, as well as retired couples living in $250,000 rigs, and everything in between.
Living on a sailboat is pretty much the same idea, with a few additional logistical challenges, if you need to keep working (I've been running Virtualmin from the road, and I just had to solve the Internet and power problem; on a boat, the Internet problem is much more expensive to solve). It seems to attract the same sorts of people, and I've met a lot of RVers who have lived on boats in the past, or live on boats some of the time.
It's my understanding it is reasonably easy and cheap (compared to shipping to Europe or similar; $500-$2000 is the range I've heard of people paying), but I haven't actually done the research on the subject yet. I have the additional logistical problem of getting my dog safely through (and she's too old for me to be willing to inflict flying on her, even a short distance), but I'm guessing we can catch a boat, as well.
Unfortunately, buying a boat is expensive, and I have no knowledge of sailing.
So I've found something that is the same concept, but might work even better: bicycle touring. A world class touring bike (a Surly Long Haul Trucker) can be had for $1200. Much cheaper than a sailboat. A good tent can be had for ~$300.
I've made a deal with myself that I have 2011 to either get back into school, get an interesting, fulfilling job, or have founded a site that is producing enough money for me to work on it fulltime. If I don't accomplish this, I'm selling everything, loading the dog into a trailer, and riding across the country.
You'd be surprised. Where I'm currently at (Montreal) there's a lot of 40-year old ~21 foot sailboats going for $3-4k. Me and a buddy planned to buy something this summer, but he spent his share of the money on travel. I was too lazy to learn to sail and don't like carpentry and other crap that goes into maintaining a boat, so I decided not to get a boat by myself.
Even when you factor in repairs, harbor fees and the possibility of having to write the boat off after 1-2 years because it's spending all its time in the water (most of the boats we looked at were dry docked for most of their existence), it's still cheaper than rent.
About touring bikes, it really doesn't matter what you tour on. I've known people who've toured on Wal-Mart bikes (not a good idea), 70s 5-speed bikes, track bikes (also not a good idea), double-stack welded tallbikes, etc. There was even a guy riding a BMX backwards across the USA for charity.
I have a bunch of friends that swear by the LHT, but I like to tour on late 80s-early 90s rigid-fork steel mountain bikes (all the rigid-fork mountain bikes made today are suspension-corrected, which makes them useless for just about anything). On mountain bikes the rear rack sits lower and handling gets smoother as the rear is loaded, which isn't always the case with road-type frames. This means you can go with rear panniers only, which is great because front panniers really mess up handling. As a plus 26" wheels and tires can be found almost anywhere, and are usually stronger than 700s.
Worth knowing, from a developer perspective, is that Colombia has really good 3G coverage. Unlimited mobile internet access will run you on the order of $20/month, and it's available pretty much everywhere. Including anywhere you're likely to set up shop on your boat.
The San Blas off the coast of Panama are where you really want to be, but unfortunately the internet access isn't so great. You can get online in a lot of unlikely places (there are islands with literally nothing except coconut trees and a solar-powered cell mast), but it will cost you.
Head to Cartagena and ask around at Club Nautico. Chances are you'll find somebody who knows somebody who has a boat to sell.
So I guess my point is, if you're going to do something like that, make sure you buy a really good boat.
Just yesterday two men sank off of Nantucket on their homebuilt sailboat and the Coast Guard had to rescue them by helicopter. Luckily they were still close enough to shore to be reached. I don't know what they were thinking, but one of their most egregiously bad moves was bringing 1 survival suit for 2 people. And that is just the most recent story I've seen (like I said, it was yesterday).
would cost more, but
If you're gonna live aboard, though... it's probably cheaper than a house.
I don't think I'd do it myself, though. I'm just not a boat person. If I ever buy a stupid money hole it'll be an aeroplane.
> Self employed February 1980 - September 1983
> Rebuilt a 37’ wooden ketch and sailed about the Caribbean and East Coast of the United States. To support myself and my boat, I worked as a painter, carpenter, rigger, and cabinet maker in various ports of call. In the nine months before graduate school, I was based in Boston.
There are plenty of people doing it on less than $1000 or $1500 for a family of four on sailboats from 30 to 35 feet.
More HN readers should consider living on a sailboat full time - it's fiscal mobility, grid independence, great stories, social without commitments and great views all in one.
Downside: Don't underestimate the work on a sailboat and you need to address maintenance issues right away - so be prepared to spend $xxx or $xxxx at random points in time.
Cosmetic stuff is fine, but on a 30' boat, if you are fixing structure or engines, it is going to get expensive quick. And if the laminate itself is wet, you are probably headed for a dumpster.
Get a good mechanical survey and a good structural survey on any boat over $10k.
I agree with your views on sailing, I've been crusing for a long time, and it honestly is one of the best things I do. Though I leave the computer, tv, at home. I find disconnecting completely for two weeks to be far better than taking my work life out on a boat for a year.
Oh yes, and boats do require quite a bit of maintenance. I do most of mine myself and actually enjoy it usually, but it's not always on my schedule (although I try to be proactive, that helps).
One last thing: as a geek I really love fiddling with the boat systems. Having only two car-type batteries is not a lot, so I've been doing little things like replacing lights with LEDs (every boater should consider that IMHO for 1/8th draw and better longevity), changing how the charging system works, getting some solar going (in progress), etc. It's off the grid living!
Nothing else could duplicate the quantity and quality of learning and growing she did during that year, and to this day she still uses her experiences as a touchstone. Can not recommend undertaking an adventure like this enough.
And nope, we are no longer working together! He and I left our company around the same time. We were acquired but it wasn't the exit either of us wanted. So he decided to go sailing and I joined an awesome new startup :)
If anything it reads like he's still running a company, albeit a smaller one :)
When I was younger, my family sold most of what we owned, rented out our house, and moved onto our sailboat. We sailed from Seattle to San Diego, then down the West Coast of Mexico, and up into the Sea of Cortez. We were only planning on being gone one year, but since it was such an amazing experience, we decided to extend our trip for a second year.
On the second year, we sailed from the Sea of Cortez farther down Mexico, then down to El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, through the Panama Canal, over to Colombia, up to Honduras, Belize, Mexico again, then Florida. This second year was certainly more rushed since we visited so many countries, but we need to get back stateside for me to finish school and go to college.
Many people believe it is unsafe and expensive to do such an extended trip. But if you are friendly to the local people and accept their culture, they are often welcoming and friendly. Never once were we approached by pirates (although the Mexican navy did stop us 100+ miles off the coast before leaving Mexico to enter El Sal, boarded our boat with AK47s and searched for drugs. Obvi nothing was there and they left). In fact, many welcomed us because we helping to boost their economy, and would improve their image as a "tourist" town.
As for expenses, living on a boat is extremely cheap if you are mechanically inclined. Granted, the boat is a big investment, but other than that there aren't too many expenses. We used solar panels for electricity, a mini-desalinazation machine for drinking water, and often fished off the side, catching fresh tuna. The only expenses were diesel fuel and food (which is cheap in 3rd world countries!). Occasionally we docked, but that was also cheap (we stayed at a high-end resort in MX, including 3 pools and a personal zoo with tigers, and we paid $20/ day). Also, since our home was being rented, that provided some monthly income with no work.
The one danger, and it is very serious, is when people have a lack of offshore sailing and boat handling experience. When (not if) you encounter bad weather you've gotta know how to properly manage the boat, be it at anchor or in the middle of the ocean. I've seen boats slam into rocks during storms in port, and heard captain's calling for help because they're boat is sinking far from shore. However, with some training near shore and a few trips to sea with experienced sailors, most anyone can learn what is necessary to take on an extended sailing voyage.
Also, for all you who need a constant internet connection, rig up an amplified wireless router. We bought an industrial antenna, mounted it halfway up the mast, and rigged up a signal amplifier. In our home harbor, this lead to an increase from 3 wifi networks to over 35 wifi networks! Usually had about a dozen free networks from local businesses.
When we returned home to Seattle, we simply moved back into our original home, met up with old friends, and had some great tales to tell.
Been there, done that.It was awesome. It wasn't a boat though.