How To Sail The World And Live The Dream

by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist

Published in Lifestyle on 27th May, 2019

Many people dream of escaping the 9 to 5 grind and travelling full time, and for those with a love of the ocean, sailing is the perfect way to do so. Not only is it more eco-friendly than flying, it's also incredibly rewarding and fun.

But how do you achieve this dream of sailing the world full time?


Find Your Inspiration

So what's your inspiration for sailing full time? Are you even sure you want to sail full time? Although it's a lot of fun, sailing is hard work and maintaining a boat is a full time job, so you'll need to be committed to the adventure if you're going to succeed despite the rough patches.

Ask yourself if you truly know what you're getting yourself into. If you haven't sailed before, see if you can find an opportunity to try sailing and get a feel for whether you'd like it (and find out whether you're seasick).

Many people find inspiration to sail and a community of support online, through sites like youtube and instagram or reddit.

Find a Boat

By far one of the trickiest parts of preparing to sail the world is finding the right boat to do it on. If you already have one, you can skip this bit.

Finding the perfect boat for you can be difficult, you need to balance the cost of the boat with how old it is, whether it's new or used, what type of boat it is and what kind of trips you'll be wanting to go on.

find a boat

The most important part of deciding on the type of boat you want is research and experience. Research all your options and decide what's best for you, then if you can, test out sailing on the same or similar boats to see how it feels, just like you would with a car.

Once you've decided on the boat you want, buying it is the next step. If you have plenty of savings and can afford to buy a boat outright that's great, but for most people they need to finance their boat.

The majority of boat owners have a loan of some sort taken out on their boat, much like you would on a house. If you're planning to live on your boat full time you can think of your boat loan as similar to a mortgage.

Before you buy the boat itself you'll want to get it fully checked out to make sure it's in full working order with no problems. If anything suspicious comes up, move on to the next option and be wary of boats that seem unusually cheap.

Learn To Sail If Need Be

If you're planning on sailing the world full time you probably know a thing or two about sailing already, but unless you're an experienced sailor you may still need a few pointers. The last thing you want is to be caught in a sticky situation and have no idea what to do.

Luckily, sailing courses are abundant and not too expensive depending on where you look. There are various different qualifications you can gain to certify yourself as a competent sailor, and these can be particularly useful if you are looking into gaining work in sailing or becoming a crew member.

Save Up

Owning, sailing and keeping up a boat is costly to say the least. There are many unexpected costs to sailing that can catch you off guard, whether it be food, breakages on board, marina costs etc etc.

save up

Even if you've got a way to make money while sailing, you're going to want at least some savings to fall back on in case anything goes wrong.

Find A Way To Fund Yourself

Although some people prefer to just live off their savings and enjoy their time on board without worrying about making money, for many people looking to sail full-time, making money as you go is paramount.

Being able to work without needing to step on land is a huge bonus, so if you're able to find freelance work and earn money from a laptop, you may be able to at least partially finance your travels that way.

If that's not your style however, you still have options. Many boat owners run "charter holidays" or retreats in which they invite people onto their boat to cruise around, have fun, learn to sail and chill out. Each passenger pays a fee for the holiday and this money helps to keep the boat and its owners going for many months to come.

If you don't feel like entertaining, many boat owners find seasonal work or work as a sailing instructor for a few months of the year to save up money to further fund their travels. The bonus here is that you get to meet fellow sailors, sail yourself and make good money doing it.

Plan Out Your Passage

Once you've got all your ducks in a row, you'll want to plan out an awesome route, more commonly known as a passage, to take. Obviously this depends on where you're setting out from, but there are a few destinations and routes that a well known for being beautiful, making them popular, particularly with those just starting out.

plan your passage

Of course, every time you plan out a passage you will need to take into consideration the weather, the safety of the places you are travelling to, whether you'll be crossing any major shipping lines, whether there'll be other boats to contend with, if there's space for you to drop anchor, how much it will cost and how long it will take to get there.

Many sailors dreams of doing a full lap of the world, that is, starting from one place and navigating around the whole globe until you get back to your original destination.

Chances are, no matter where you are in the world, there's someone who's done it before you. Although it can be tempting to wing it and head out into the open ocean, make sure to do at least some of your research first and take advice from the more experienced sailors.

Get Support

Sailing a boat requires almost 24/7 attention, so it's not easy to do solo. Even if you've already got a partner, friend, or family member coming with you, you'll probably need more support.

Luckily, there's plenty of people who would jump at the chance to hop on board and help you out. "Crewing" is a popular way to do this. Essentially it means that, in exchange for room and board, you get the help of a typically young sailor who's still learning the ropes. This way you both gain something from each other and it generally leads to a lot of fun times on board.

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