What kind of a cruiser will you choose to be?

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We’ve met all sorts of cruisers out there. Some folks have sailed all their adult lives and it’s their lifestyle. Some young folks are taking a break from the work world and enjoying themselves for a couple of years. Some sailors, like us, retired early and have sailed off into the sunset. Yet others are families who have decided to travel with their kids for a few years and educate them along the way. Whichever cruising style you choose, it’s good to realize in advance how this will affect the type of boat you choose and your budget.

1. Sabbatical cruising

This type of cruising seems to suit young folks who need or want a break from the day-to-day work world in which they find themselves. They save up some dough, buy a boat and sail off with the expectations that they’ll sail for a couple of years, maybe work a little en route, and then return to their chosen professions when the cruising kitty runs out.

2. Part Time Cruising

These folks may still be working or have family commitments for the part of the year, but see their boat as a vacation or seasonal home. There are still the marina fees, maintenance and repair fees to consider, but most do not travel too far from their home base.

3. ARC and rally cruisers

Some folks want the sailing adventure, but prefer to do so in company. They join the ARC or a similar rally for specified sailing segments or for around the world adventures where the routes and stops are pre-planned and coordinated, for a fee, by a professional rally company. New cruisers and old find this provides confidence and reassurance.

4. Liveaboard/full time cruisers

This is us. The folks that live on their boats full time and really don’t have any other home. Sometimes that’s the plan. Other times, people just enjoy life at sea more and more and decide more is better.

Within all these groups, there are even more stratifications. There are coastal cruisers who might be part time or full time, but who opt to stay within, say 50 miles of the coast or perhaps just ply the protected waters of the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway). They prefer the closeness and security of having land close by, or just enjoy being on the water without being far from port.

There are dock potatoes … those who liveaboard, but never or seldom leave the marina.

There are round-the-worlders … those who travel great distances across oceans and circumnavigate the globe … any number of times. There are adventure sailors who prefer high latitudes like the Northwest Passage or the Southern Ocean waters of the Antarctic peninsula.

The type of cruising you intend to do makes all the difference in the world in choosing your boat and determining your budget. If you never intend to leave the dock, the seaworthiness of your boat is not quite as vital. You don’t want to sink in the marina berth, but you won’t be dealing with big waves, bergy bits and weather at sea either.

There are no right or wrong answers ... only what you choose to be. We never intended to circumnavigate or sail in the higher latitudes, but we did think that we might want to cross oceans. We decided that a heavy displacement, blue water boat would best suit our needs versus a faster, lighter, less versatile vessel. We also agreed that though new boats were beautiful and probably had warranties, we didn’t want a mortgage and wanted to stay within our budget. Additionally, with only the two of us aboard, 40-45’ was the biggest boat we could comfortably handle. Not to mention that the rule of thumb for boats is that for every extra 10’ you add, you double the cost … of purchase, of supplies, of maintenance, of dockage … etc. It really adds up.

David will address choosing the right boat in a future blog, but for now, deciding what type of cruiser you intend to be might help in narrowing down your boat options as well as more closely estimating your budget.