Budget and Money

Being back, but not being home

We flew back to the states to visit family, our pets, and earn some cruising money! Last time we came back, I waited a full week before I started working so that I had plenty of time to be with our pets.  

A full week just for the pets was awesome! They quickly forgave us for leaving and greatly enjoyed having us home again.  

Then I went to work and only saw them after a hard days work. This was fine and after a few weeks of working, we returned to the boat.  

We didn’t desperately need the money, so there wasn’t a desperate urge to go to work. The real desire was to be with our pets. This last time was different; we really needed a lot of money and had a very limited amount of time to earn it. 

My first day back, I started working like a dog! I was pulling wisdom teeth on multiple patients per day, drilling crowns and fillings, and even doing cleanings. If I was at the office, I was working hard! This went on for a solid 4 weeks, until the day before we are to return to the boat. I have earned the money that we need to pay for our year on the hard at the marina, so the stress of working has been lifted.  

I spent all day today with our pets and I realized that while I have been here for a full month, I haven’t really been “home”.  

Everyday was work work work, then I would see the pets in the afternoon while I worked on the blog or YouTube vídeos. Then I went to sleep and began the process again.  

After a full month of this, we have earned enough money to continue and are ready to leave, but we will greatly miss our pets, and friends & family. This month back home didn’t really feel like “home time” and instead “work time”.  

Hopefully, the next time we come home, I won’t have such a chunk of money needing to be earned so I can be more relaxed about it and enjoy our time away from the boat.  

Tomorrow we begin our journey to the boat and shortly thereafter we will shove off from the Azores and head to mainland Portugal! 

Talk is cheap, why pay for it?

Cruising is awesome! It takes you to new places that you never even dreamed of experiencing. You wake up in a new land every time you set sail, and you get to choose where you want to go next. This feeling of complete freedom is quite nice, until you decide you want to communicate with your family and friends from places you have long since left.

The moment you travel to a new country, every call to your homeland will be a long distance call. When you begin making friends in all the countries you visit, calling each of them will also be long distance. Long distance calls, especially when you are roaming is insanely expensive! What if you could do this all for free?

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WhatsApp is a free app that uses data to do a voice call and texting. Is data free? Sometimes.

If you are on roaming data, it will be very expensive to use WhatsApp. If you get on a free WiFi, then all your interactions on WhatsApp will be free!

The calls can be long and the text messages numerous, but you won’t have to pay a cent!

When we head out to sea, we put our phones on Airplane mode and leave them there until we are back in our homeland. While out, we simply get free WiFi from cafes and restaurants. When we get online, all our messages come in and we can make calls as needed. When we leave the WiFi spot, our phones go silent once again (which is actually a very nice thing). There are no random calls in the middle of the night that could wake you from your sleep, or someone texting you early in the morning.

You are in a different country and nothing could happen that needs your immediate attention. But what if one of your new local friends wants to hang out? Well, they can always knock on the hull and talk to us like normal people would. The dinghy tied to the boat is a great clue to anyone wondering if we are on the boat or on shore. If the dinghy is with the boat, come on over because we are home, if the dinghy is not at the boat, give us a call, we might have WiFi.

WhatsApp is one of those great features of a smartphone, allowing you the connectivity to your friends and family without all the cost of these conveniences. Next time you travel overseas (by plane or boat) give this app a try and enjoy the freedom of communication!

How to Fund Your Journey

Cruising is great, you live where your boat is and don’t have to go to work in the morning. The problem with this plan is that money is a thing you need if you want to eat, and not going to work means you won’t have any money.

Well, you don’t necessarily “go to” work, but instead, you “bring” work with you.

Cruising means that you are going to have a mobile lifestyle and it would be best if your work was also mobile. We fund our journey through a variety of sources, and each one is rather small, but collectively, they add up to be enough that we can buy food and sail on.

First, there is the blog that you are reading right now. I started this blog back in 2015 and have posted a new blog post daily since then. This is a lot of work and it takes a lot of time, but it is a labor of love that pays me thanks to the ads that are displayed on the web page. The money comes from Google AdSense, and I get paid monthly.

Second, there is the YouTube Channel Rigging Doctor which also pays from ad revenue generated by ads that play on the videos we make. Filming requires equipment, and equipment is expensive. Editing the footage takes software, which is an additional cost, but the end result is a wonderful video diary of our adventure. The channel started out as something my wife and I were doing for ourselves to document our voyage, but it grew in popularity and has actually begun to pay us a comfortable amount.

Third, Patreon. This is a system where Patrons can donate to your adventure, which helps give you a steady income and lets you know you are going to be able to buy food this month! Now, Patrons don’t want to just give random people money, they want something in return, and that something is usually content that you create for them in the form of YouTube videos. The moral of the story is: if you make videos, make them good videos that people will want to watch!

Fourth, T-Shirts. We design shirts and then sell them. This is far from a guaranteed income source, as some months we don’t sell any shirts, while other months we sell a bunch! Teespring has a great setup where it costs you nothing to submit a design and attempt to sell, so anything you earn is pure profit as there doesn’t have to be any initial investment on your part.

Fifth, Amazon Associates. Basically, you are paid a finders fee if someone buys something from your link. These links look like this:

When someone buys something through a link, you then get a percentage of the sale as a finders fee. This works well for the sellers because they only have to pay advertising when a product actually sells instead of paying a whole bunch of ad money and hope to make a sale. This also means that you wan’t to use and promote products that you value so that others can benefit from it the same way you have, and it helps pay for food!

Sixth, Brand Ambassadorship. Meeting people while you cruise will open up business opportunities. As you come in contact with these people, you will be offered new ways to earn income that you may have never even thought of. One friend has created a website that connects people who want to travel with local tours and local knowledge. This means that they can plan and book their next adventure, all from home. They can take vacation time from work and quickly have the experience of a lifetime, then get right back to work with no wasted time. He calls it TravelGnu, and just like with Amazon Associates, you earn a finders fee from the booking company that hosts the tours and hotels.

Lastly, your old job. If you are able to work part time, you can simply go cruising for a while (until you run out of money) and then return to work. This will let you earn and save up money quickly so that you can then get back to cruising. This has been our main course of action whenever we need more money than we have on hand, or our funds start to dwindle. I fly home and work as a dentist for about a month, then head back to the boat. The reason I work for a month at a time is I have to make the trip worth it. Yes, I could probably earn what I need at the moment in a week, but I just had to pay for flights to get back, I’m going to take full advantage of being back and do everything I needed to do while I am here before I head back to the boat. This minimizes the amount of flights I need to take in a year and as a direct result, minimizes the amount of money we spend on flights for the year.

Cruising is a much cheaper way of living than being on land or tied to land, but it is still not free. Finding ways to earn money while you sail is important to minimize the amount of time you need to spend back at home working and maximize your time on the boat working in exotic places!

The Importance of Units

When cruising, you will frequently encounter countries that use imperial or metric units. These units are very important!

We started our journey in the United States, where fuel is sold by the gallon. Fuel prices when we left were around $3-4 per gallon. Our next stop was in the Bahamas where fuel prices were more expensive, ranging $4-7 per gallon. Our last port before heading to Bermuda sold fuel for $5.40 per gallon.

We use fuel to power the generator to keep our fridge running should cloudy, windless days persist and run down our house battery bank. Keeping our food refrigerated and frozen is worth buying 10 gallons of gasoline!

I was relieved when we arrived in Bermuda and found gasoline to be sold for $2.19! Being a former British colony, I assumed that they would also use the gallon. Our next stop when we leave Bermuda is the Azores, about 1800 miles away! So we decided to purchase an extra 5 gallon (20L) jerry can.

Bermuda is famously expensive, but nowhere near as expensive as people had led us to believe. We could still eat out and have a wonderful meal for about the same prices as stateside dining. I think the real kicker comes when cruisers tank up before leaving. This is usually their last purchase in Bermuda and therefore the one that is freshest in their mind when they reach home.

The fuel we bought was $2.19 per liter. At 3.8L per gallon, this meant that fuel here was $8.32 per gallon!

Our meager purchase of 15 gallons and a jerry can was $150! Yeah.

Now I understand how people can complain about prices when they need to buy hundreds of gallons of fuel to get home.

The moral of the story is: pay attention to the units because it can radically affect your experience.

The Cost of Cruising

When people ask: "How much does it cost to go cruising?" They are asking the wrong question. They want to know "how much money does it cost to go cruising" and not "what are the costs of going cruising." 

While these might sound like the same thing right now, they won't when you finish reading. The financial aspect of cruising is simple, it will cost you what you have set aside to do it. You can tie up in a marina every night on a huge yacht and pay through the nose for fancy meals. This style of cruising will be very expensive and you might not be able to afford it for very long. On the contrary, if you anchor (which is free) and cook your meals on board, and buy food that is on sale from a cheap grocery store, your costs will be very low and you can sustain it for a long time. But this is not the cost of cruising! 

The real cost of cruising is saying goodbye to the people and places you love. Leaving everything behind you as you set off into the unknown. When you leave, you don't know when you will return or what you will find out in the world. You will miss years with your family and friends, as life events happen and you are far away in a distant land. 

Your friends might move away, the neighborhood you lived in will change, and you will never be able to return to the world from whence you left. If you stay, you will experience all the changes gradually, so they won't seem like a shock to you. Your life will continue as it always had and you will always dream of what could have been if you had set off cruising.  

There will always be a cost, and the price is time. You can't set off cruising and expect the world you left to pause itself. When you return, things will be different and the place that you remembered will be gone, replaced by something new and changed.  

I used to work in a family dental practice with my parents and sister. We lived a few miles from Maddies parents in Baltimore, Maryland. I would see my parents and sister almost everyday, and we would see Maddie's parents a few times a week. We kept the boat in a small neighborhood of Baltimore called Fells Point, where we would walk the streets at night and eat at our favorite restaurants.  

Change was always happening, but we saw it happen on a daily basis so it was nothing shocking. At the same time, looking back at when I moved there 5 years prior, it had changed a lot; i just never noticed it since it was gradual. While we lived there, restaurants came and went, a massive hotel was built, and crime started to become more prevalent. The old park where the farmers market would happen on Saturdays was demolished, and the farmers market stopped happening. The abandoned pier that used to play movies on a big screen at the edge of the water stopped happening. Stuff was always changing, but we were there to see it and the change was always gradual. 

With family, my sister is pregnant, and I will miss the entire process. My parents send me pictures as her baby bump keeps growing, but I will be away as my niece or nephew (she doesn't know the gender) is born. We also had to leave our pets behind, as ocean sailing is not very conducive to an exotic bird or a dog that demands a walk on shore twice a day. We know they are doing fine, but we still miss them very much as they are a huge part of our lives.

Our friends will also change as we are away, they will find new interests and have life events without us there to experience it with them. They might even move away in our absence, life goes on and no one can stop it! 

All of these factors may sound like if cruising is a horrible idea. The costs are very high when you think about all the things that you will miss while you are away. At the same time, the costs of not going are equally high if you make the most of it. If you don't set sail, you will spend your whole life wishing you had gone and wondering what lay out beyond the horizon. You only get one life, so you need to choose what is more expensive to you and which can you afford. 

We are going cruising because we are dreamers and will always wonder about what lays off in the distance. If we stayed, we would enjoy life with our friends and families but we would always have the unmet dreams of distant lands. We plan to go cruising and explore the world, then we can return to a new home where we can continue our lives with our families and friends in the future. It is a cost to pay, but if it is worth it to you, then the cost is not a concern.