Saturday, July 3, 2010

Vagabond: Try the seven seas

I chose to purchase a trailer and cruise the back roads of the US but some vagabonds have decided to select a sailboat to travel the seven seas instead of traveling on land. A sailboat is set up very similar to a recreational vehicle. The exception is that you may or may not have an engine. Most of them do because only very experienced sailors can do with the occasional need for an engine. Of course, most people know how to drive and only need to learn backing skills to handle a land based RV. Those who select the sea must learn how to sail.

There are options to selecting a sailboat. You could decide to live on a houseboat. If you chose a houseboat, it won't be much different than choosing one of those large motor coaches. The gas consumption of a power boat is not a frugal venture so I will only discuss the frugality of sailing.
There are many different types of sailboats and you must decide whether you will just live aboard in a marina or actually sail from port to port. Sailboats are self contained like an RV but you can plug them in to electric, water, and have a honey barge come by and pump your holding tank.

Small boat sailing can be frugal
A couple, Lin and Larry Pardey sailed quite a few miles on a 24 foot boat but that is small by most people's standards. You may want to try and get at least a 26-27 foot if you are single and 30 foot if you are a real loving and close couple. Several of the tricks I use to stay frugal on the road, I learned from sailboats where they don't have a lot of fresh water or try and preserve their power by not using a refrigerator.

Anchoring versus piers
Texas is a good spot for cheaper marina rates while Florida is one of the most expensive. You can anchor out on your own or rent an anchor buoy. The anchor buoy is much cheaper than a spot at the marina, will come with a honey barge, and a dock to tie up your tender. If you select a marina, you will get all services including web access. Selecting to anchor out, you can do so free but you have to generate your own power by solar, wind, or diesel/gasoline. A sailboat set up with solar and a wind generator can be a very green way to live.

Doing without an engine
Two types of engines are typically found on a sailboat. An inboard gasoline or diesel engine or a small outboard engine. Either engine isn't very large since your primary method of propulsion is supposed to be the sail. If you select a small enough sailboat, you can attach a single oar much like you see on a Chinese Junk to move the boat when you don't have any wind.

International travel
There are a lot of issues with sailing internationally from pirates to visa requirements. Some ports can be expensive. Food also can be expensive but you can buy cheap food if you eat like the locals. Do a lot of research before you decide to leave for that island full time. A lot of sailing couples have done so and their stories are documented online. Read them to get a feel for what it like sailing away from US waters.

If you want to be a vagabond sailor, you need to learn to sail, decide where you want to sail, and purchase a boat. If you need to start by learning to sail, check here.

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