Well then, sailing around the world is something that only rich people can afford?
That would certainly be the first impression after seeing the figures we published! ….and in the Rally we were among those with the lowest budget!
Is it possible to spend less, without becoming a sort of “sea gypsies”? Certainly yes!!
A first example comes from “Cayuco”, one of the Rally boats; an old piece of junk, but very sturdy and maintained in a “do-it-yourself” style that did nothing to improve the boat’s appeal compared to the other Rally boats but still managed to complete the circumnavigation on schedule.
This result is entirely to be attributed to Tony and Audrey’s perseverance in the face of the continuous string of failures that plagued their navigation, and to their ability in implementing low-cost fixes.
Tony’s do-it-yourself skills, on top of his qualification as a professional engine-maintenance instructor, were instrumental in their ability to perform emergency fixes at sea and often also the full repairs when in harbour.
Hats off to both of them, many would have given up at the first difficulties! It must be said, though, that – as they freely admitted – they took risks, sometimes serious ones, and they could not fully enjoy their voyage, not only due to the limited budget, but also to the time wasted to fix the boat!
I believe it was a mistake on their part to embark in a two-year circumnavigation: in a more relaxed timescale, they would have enjoyed the voyage much more. And so, here is the first of the possible SOLUTIONS TO CUT COSTS:
– TRAVEL SLOWLY: as already said before, a fast voyage requires a large (i.e. fast) boat, new or well-maintained (to avoid wasting time for repairs), often running under engine to keep the schedule (fuel consumption and engine wear) and, once in harbour, spending whatever needed to visit the place in the short time available. Joining a Rally is a further means to enhance the chances of a successful voyage, but is also a significant expenditure not needed when traveling slowly.
A slow voyage also allows to DILUTE over a longer period some expenses (e.g. fuel) or to choose lower-cost approaches (do-it-yourself repairs, lower-cost ways to visit places, etc.).
– LESS EXPENSIVE BOAT: we chose an aluminium-hulled boat for its strength, and equipped it with all the gear we felt was useful to maximise comfort and minimize risks in a short-crewed navigation; choosing a good second-hand GRP boat (maybe an Hallberg-Rassy, but a Jeanneau would do as well) one may save a lot; let’s say that 100/150.000 Euros would be enough to get a perfectly adequate 35/40-footer.
Choosing an older or perhaps less fashionable boat it’s possible to further cut the cost, but be careful! Breakages may be tricky and expensive to fix in remote places where spare parts have to be flown-in, if they are available in the first place and you don’t have to replace a system because spares are not made anymore.
– SMALLER BOAT: sure, expecially for a small crew and sailing at a leisurely pace, any boat between 9 and 11 meters (30-35 feet) would be suitable, although I would recommend against: in my opinion comfort and, more importantly, storage capacity are inadequate.
In Europe the ownership cost of a larger boat is markedly higher, but that’s much less so in remote places around the world, where moorings are seldom to be paid and tariffs are cheaper anyway.
To confirm the above point, several Rally crews had a larger boat acquired specifically for the circumnavigation, and sold it as soon as back in Europe.
– SELL THE HOUSE: well, I would never sell the house in order to raise the money to buy the boat! After few years, the boat will have depreciated (unlike houses!) and the money would have disappeared into thin air.
An entirely different thing, if circumstances allow, would be to close or sell the house before leaving in order to REDUCE COSTS (rent, if applicable, maintenance costs, taxes, etc.).
Even some of the Rally crews made that, even though the voyage was lasting only two years, and certainly there are problems to be considered (where to store all the furniture, where to live in case of an unexpected early return from the voyage,…), but if circumstances allow the saving may be significant.
– WORK WHILE TRAVELLING: not everybody could easily find a temporary job in the visited Countries: it’s certainly easier for a diesel engineer or a nurse than for a lawyer!…
It must also be remembered that working while on a tourist visa is illegal almost everywhere, so probably small occasional jobs is all that can be done without raising too much attention.
An entirely different story for those lucky ones whose job can be performed anywhere (e.g. painters, or writers) or who may work remotely thanks to modern technologies (software programmers, maybe?) or whose job allows for long interruptions (seasonal shop- or hotel-owners?).
Managing a business remotely is usually very hard, as those Rally skippers who tried it can testify: their boats sailed around the world, but they didn’t, as they were continuously flying back home to fix thing at work!