Filling Up the Cruising Kitty

Forrest Galante – I met Forrest at The Blue Wild Expo.  He spent quite a bit of time (and very little money) traveling around the world, spearfishing all of the best spots – with the best people.  But he’s probably more known for his time on The Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid.  He’s a biologist, and his experience with spearfishing and the primitive survival skillset allowed him to be the highest-rated survivalist on the show.  Not bad for a gypsy, right? He was then sponsored by Sturgil Spearfishing and is now guiding unique trips all over the world.   He had some great tips for creating a story around The Nomad Trip, which I’ll take full advantage of.  His thoughts were:  worse things are on television, but that spot on TV comes at a price.  TV seems like a bit of a stretch to me, and I’m not sure I want that.

Cameron Kirkconnell – Cam has been kind enough to share some of his time with me, speaking really honestly about his experience with spearfishing/lifestlye clothing sponsorship.  He stared Spearblog a long time ago, has produced some epic spearfishing videos and is a current 12X world -record holder.  He’s currently sponsored by SaltLife and Riffe;  both companies I respect quite a bit.  I’m always happy to see a guy be able to make a lifestyle out of his passion, especially when they’re approachable and genuine.   His thoughts:  that gear sponsorships would happen, but that money sponsorships are tough.  A particularly interesting alternative he mentioned was documenting the worldwide fish-stocks and making that my focus.   Done correctly, this opens doors into grants and other science-based funding.  I really like this – it’s something I genuinely care about.

Brad Thornbrough – He runs Headhunter Spearfishing, which has some truly innovative Hawaiian Slings (pic below) and pole-spears.  I was hoping to run into Brad at The Blue Wild Expo, but didn’t.  We did squeeze in a phone call afterwards though – I can say with confidence that he’s a knowledgeable, down-to-earth guy.  And although he’s super-busy, he shared his time with me.  He was an early entrant into the spearfishing video game, you can see some here.  He was frank about producing video for profit:  you can’t make money with spearfishing video. But with another theme (i.e. the reality of this trip) and another hook (there are a few options here), it would theoretically be possible to make a little money via Vimeo’s platform.  Here’s a picture of The GUERRILLA Sling, because it’s cool:

Filling up the cruising kitty - guerrilla sling

The Guerrilla Sling

Final Thoughts on Sponsorship/Media

These conversations helped.  Mostly reminding me that this is something worth pursuing, but that it’s a ton of work and there’s very little reward (at the beginning).  Here’s a thought on the issue of sponsorship from an experienced cruiser:

Sponsors – Quit Being a Shill. Just because a company gives you a discount on their product, or even gives it to you for free, does not make them a sponsor, it makes them an advertiser. Conceivably your trip around the world will cost you anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 and up. So that $200 worth of product equates to maybe two-tenths of one-percent of your overall trip budget. For that you are going to pimp that product for four or five years?

How’s that for a dose of reality? Afterall, whose finances (and life) are on the line out there?  That thought doesn’t make the idea of sponsorship less entertaining for me, but it does help shed some light.  Of course, there are varying levels of sponsorship and sponsorship can offer more than just gear.

Filling Up The Cruising Kitty:  Spend Less, Live Simply

A trip like this doesn’t have to eat through your life-savings, but the way I want to do it is going to cost me.  I figure you can do this (5 years sailing around the world) for $100K or significantly less if you’re willing to downsize the boat, live very simply, and sacrifice comfort.    There are multiple examples of this, you only have to do a quick search to find one.  A small boat, with simple systems that you refurbish yourself can be had for $50,000 or so.   And there are cruisers who cruise on $500/month.  I find this a really attractive approach, and wish I had the courage to try it.

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea…“cruising” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

– from Wanderer by Sterling Hayden

If you’re interested in this kind of cruising, pick up this book (Sensible Cruising:  The Thoreau Approach):

Filling up the cruising kitty - Thoreau Approach

Cruising, simply

My decision, at this point, is to work to combine this mentality with what I want; a safe, comfortable, stable craft and the means to see the things I want to see, and do the things I want to do.  After all, it costs an immense amount of money (in cruising dollars) to just share the experience (think cameras, video gear, underwater housings, website costs, etc).

Filling Up the Cruising Kitty:  Work Your Way Around

This idea combines the above, with the willingness to take several breaks to fill up the cruising kitty on your way around.  I’m not particularly fond of this approach, as it limits your freedom substantially.  Although I’m sure I’ll jump at the chance to earn some money here and there – even if only filling fridge with beer.  You’ve gotta have beer money.  

To Charter or Not To Charter?  Several people have encouraged me to invite spearos aboard when I find the spot(s).  This one appeals to me, and I’m definitely going to pursue it if I find it feasible.  Something between buddies diving together and a charter.  Done correctly, a couple of trips per year would help me immensely.  And I know there are a few spearos out there that would jump at the chance to really dive the best spots in the world.

Web-Based Income – I would like this site to morph into something that can provide a small amount of monthly income, and I can assure you that updating this site regularly is work.  I really hate ads, and early experiments with them haven’t been profitable. But I have some tricks up my sleeve.  Here’s a good blog if you’re curious about web-based income.

Swing Trading – A particularly interesting idea that’s crossed my path is swing trading stocks. I’d considered this, very superficially, in the early planning stages.  It bubbled back to the surface recently when I picked up the book Live on The Margin.  I really appreciated two things:  the fact that he’s proven it’s possible to trade stocks from remote places (long-term), and that he’s  straightforward about  it.  If you’re interested, you may enjoy this book (I did):

Filling up the Cruising Kitty - Live On the Margin

Financing dreams by trading stocks

Other means of working to fill up the cruising kitty include working in boatyards, picking up odd-jobs, and fixing other cruiser’s stuff: diesel engines, refrigeration, electronics, etc.  I’d be willing to do this, but I’m a long way from having marketable skills in this department and cruisers are notoriously (and rightfully) cheap.

So, How Will You Fill Up the Cruising Kitty?

Well.  I’m pretty conservative when it comes to my finances.  Being flat-broke is, without a doubt, my biggest fear.  So I’m going to explore all of the options above and keep my burn rate (monthly cash outlay) low.  I’m also going to invest some money in something that provides a little extra income.  Options there included income-producing equity, real estate, and self-storage units.  I’d prefer to do self-storage, but I made the decision to go – so letting this hold me back would be nothing short of a travesty.  If the right deal comes up, great.  If not, I’ll have to have a little faith in myself and my abilities to scrape by out there.

I think that decision;  to go no matter what, and to trust yourself to know that you can find a way to make it work – is the most important one. That can be a terrifying thought, but one you have to be willing to face.

See anything I missed?  Let me know in the comments, I’m interested!

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Cruising Equipment Costs

a friend died last weekend.  It’s a huge bummer.  But I have a catamaran under contract, and the clock is ticking.  So I’m pressing on…

Here’s a post that I really hope helps others out when they’re determining the “real” cost of a cruising catamaran.  This is a really tough thing to tackle, volumes have been written on the subject.   Here are my disclaimers:

  1. I used these numbers to “plug-in” to a spreadsheet I created with all of the cruising catamarans I was interested in.  I think that’s a necessary exercise when looking at multiple used boats, when you’re on a budget. Here’s an example:  

    Download (XLSX, 10KB)

  2. You may not find all of these systems necessary.  Or decide that you need more.  Many will likely be on your boat.
  3. I’m a novice, these prices are rough estimates that vary wildly based upon:  your personal preferences, the age of the equipment, and how you choose to install it (your labor, or someone else’s).  Don’t hesitate to tell me where I’m off (in the comments, or send me an email).
  4. My use case is cruising on a 38-40ft catamaran, full-time, with as little time spent in marinas as possible.
  5. Buy this book (The Voyager’s Handbook):
Cruising Equipment Costs

The best source for planning a sailing voyage

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s all the info I have (in no particular order).  I really hope it’s helpful, if you want to be conservative add 15-20%.

“Necessary” Cruising Equipment

  1. 12V fridge/freezer – $3,500
  2. Solar/Wind and controls – $4-5,000
  3. Radar – $3,000
  4. Chartplotter – $2,000
  5. AIS – $1,000
  6. Pactor III – $1,200
  7. Transducers Depth/Speed – $500
  8. 12V (midrange) watermaker – $4,500
  9. New sails – $10,000
  10. Rigging inspection – $1,000
  11. New rigging (pro install) – $10-15,000
  12. RIB dinghy – $3-3,500 (10-12′)
  13. 15 HP 2 stroke – $3,000 (outboard dinghy motor)
  14. EPIRB – $600
  15. 6 PAX liferaft – $2,000
  16. Sea anchor – $1,200
  17. Abandon ship bag – $1,500
  18. Handheld GPS – $500
  19. Folding props – $3,250

“Really Nice To Have” Cruising Equipment

  1. Hard top (very expensive, usually custom) – $10-15,000
  2. Spare autopilot – $6,000
  3. Sea kayak – $1,000
  4. Folding Bike – $250
  5. Solid fishing gear – $1,000

Other Cruising Equipment

  1. Spares (spare parts, plugs, filters, oil, coolant) – $10,000
  2. Tools  (everything to fix everything) – $1,000
  3. Spare Jerry cans – $200

Again cruising equipment costs can vary wildly, and will depend on your personal tastes (and use-case).  But hopefully this provides you some very rough numbers to determine what the real cost of a cruising boat will be.  I’ll post more as I learn more.

PS – the total of the costs above is $78,500.  So, yes, it’s very easy to dump $50,000 into a boat to get it “cruise ready” for an open-water voyage.   Here’s the spreadsheet I’ve made, again:  

Download (XLSX, 10KB)

Thoughts, comments, suggestions?  I’m interested to hear some feedback…

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Mike Reed – A Tribute

Mike Reed - A Tribute

Mike Reed

I took the jump into traveling and spearfishing before he did, but he took the jump into underwater photography before I did.  So we spent time bouncing ideas off each other.  If you were a friend of his on Facebook, you got to see his progression from complete beginner to talented photog.  In fact, every picture in this post is one from Mike Reed.

Mike Reed - A Tribute

Mike Reed

I know most people want to know what happened.  But it won’t change anything.  Mike is still gone, and we’re still here.  The world keeps turning, but we all have a Mike-sized hole in our lives.

Nobody knows how we’re supposed to process the death of a good, young guy.  When I got the text, it was a huge sinking feeling.  Then shock.  Then anger.  And finally, just sadness. Real sadness. The kind that you know won’t go away anytime soon.

But every one of us that dives, knows that we take risks. Sometimes big risks.  And that’s one thing that I liked about Mike.  It’s a special kind of guy that can take risks like this;  it wasn’t for money and it wasn’t for fame.

People called him crazy, but I just saw a guy living better than anybody else.   It helps to remember that we all die, and that a year’s worth of good living is more than most people ever get.  Mike got more than a year of good living, much more.

It’s those times when you put it all on the line when you are really living, Mike got that.

Mike Reed - A Tribute

Mike, living

Like everyone who knew Mike, yesterday was a rough day.  It was tough, and not any easier last night.  I’m sure you all went through all of your pictures, texts and remembered all of your phone calls.  I did.

Mike Reed

Big Plans…

Forever.  55.  That seems really far away now.  It didn’t just a couple of days ago.  That’s a harsh reminder of how short life is, and how important it is to live every day like it’s your last.  Because it really could be.  My most sincere condolences to his family and friends.  I can’t imagine the pain you’re all in.  I’m so sorry.

Mike Reed - A Tribute

Goodbye, Mike

What I really want to say, though, is thanks.  So, Mike, thanks.  Thanks for reminding us that there are good, generous people in the world.  Thanks for reminding us that what it means to live your life.  Most importantly, thanks for sharing some of your time with us – it wasn’t enough, but we’re glad we got it.

We’re really going to miss you Mike.

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