We've done over 45,000 miles since we bought our first sailboat in 1978. We spent many happy summers (and winters, for that matter) cruising around Southeast Alaska.
In addition to our Alaskan boating, we've cruised more-or-less full-time for 8 years or so, as far as Tasmania, Australia and a whole lot of places in between.
These are, of course, my opinions, and you might not agree with some of them. I am not interested in debating, and our email capacity via Sailmail is quite limited, so please don't bother writing if you disagree.
Feel free to take the advice you like and disregard the rest...
Ocean voyaging is easier than you'd think. The seas are usually pacific, the winds usually less than 25 knots, the harbors usually sheltered, and the charts usually correct.
Most of the folks out here are beginners; I've even met people who admitted they had never anchored their vessel until they arrived in French Polynesia!!! Still, cruisers (particularly newbies) tend to be herd animals, so there's usually lots of help and advice available. A bit of skepticism is always in order, though.
Leave yourself a reasonable amount of time to go where you want to go. We have run into a few folks who allocated as little as two years for a circumnavigation. Sure, you can sail around the world in two years, but you're not going to see much along the way. One might wonder why you're bothering...
There isn't much point in trying to go everywhere, either, when you only allow yourselves 2 or 3 days for each visit. You're not going to see or learn much. Sure, you'll be able to brag you went to 30 islands on your way to New Zealand, but did you actually see or learn anything about them?
Rushing through Oceania, trying to see everything in six months, is akin to touring the USA in two weeks. Silly.
Cost of cruising
Cruising generally consists of 6 months of full-time cruising in remote areas, alternating with 6 months of waiting out the hurricane season, touring, marinas, and boat maintenance in places like Australia and New Zealand. You spend practically nothing while cruising, but you hemorrhage money when you're in First World countries; it's just the nature of the game.
When Bernard Moitessier, the legendary long-distance sailor, was asked how much it cost to cruise he answered, "Everything you have."
This is fairly accurate, it's just that some folks have more than others. People who cruise, regardless of the size of their vessel, are usually spending just about all available funds to buy their boat and pursue their cruising lifestyle.
In dollar terms, we probably average a shade under $25,000 annually, which keeps the boat well maintained and insured, keeps us fed and healthy, and leaves a little for contingencies, souvenirs and the odd luxury.
Maintenance varies from one year to the next, but by the time the smoke clears, a haulout usually ends up costing $1-2,000 for this and that, and then you have unexpected things like broken or stolen dinghies or outboards ($2-4,000) new autopilot drives ($2,000), sail repairs, a trip home for urgent reasons ($5,000+), unexpected medical expenses, whatever. It adds up... Sure, you can let some things slide for a year or two, but it eventually catches up with you so you might as well stay on top of things.
We don't have a fixed budget, but we are reasonably careful with our funds.
August, 2002: Returning to Tahiti, French Polynesia, 12 years after our first visit in 1990. Every cruiser's dream, though I must confess that we found it a bit too crowded for our taste.
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