Besides winning a lottery or some similar stroke of coincidence (luck) resulting in a windfall of money, cruisers need a consistent source of income
to remain cruising. Nothing is free in this world and certainly is getting "less free" as governments worldwide seek money to keep themselves in business. You might say, in essence, the product they are selling is access to their island/country.
- - Then add in the increasing complexity of our floating "homes" and the realization by the manufacturers/suppliers that there "is a growing market" and are applying classical capitalism in raising prices until the market demand flattens. As more and more people enter the cruising world, they generate increased demand for products which classically always causes prices to rise more than justified by manufacturing cost increases.
- - Even the most basic, stripped down boat - a hull
, sails/rigging, and handheld navigation
, painting, caulking, sewing and of course feeding of the crew. As you climb the "comforts of life" ladder in bigger and more complex cruising boats the costs escalate dramatically.
- - I am ignoring home-country live-aboards whose purpose for being on a boat is they cannot afford to live on land and "weekend cruisers" who still live most of their life in their homes on land. The break-off becomes touchy as is spending a week or two onboard cruising? And is two(+/-) months in the Bahamas
then 10 months back on land cruising? For the sake of discussion I would set the "bar" at 6 months out of their home country per year only because of the large number of "6-on, 6-off" cruisers.
- - So where does the "money" come from? Mostly from savings accumulated during land-based work periods in the home country and put into the "cruising kitty." Here there is a large number of Caribbean
cruisers who take advantage of the storm season to return to their home country to replenish the "kitty."
- - Then there are the "retired" cruisers who have investments "active or passive" that fund their voyages. However, market crashes/depressions can force them back to their homeland to attend to their finances.
- - Lastly you have the wandering "gypsy" cruisers, usually young men
or young couples -and- some really ancient couples who have always wandered the oceans in their ancient boats and really don't know how to do anything else. The first group is statistically small and the second group really, really small and mostly only seen in the distant corners of the cruising world.
- - I sense a very large percentage of the CF members seeking the potential to be "gypsy" cruisers because of the classical "romance" impression of such a lifestyle. But it ain't romantic any way, shape or form. It is hard work and a lot of deprivation. Somewhat like walking across a continent with a backpack and no money. It is done but you won't get fat doing it. You will probably end up a lot skinnier. And it is definitely a "short term" endeavor as at the first major incident or boat repair they reach the end of their financial road and have to abandon their quest and go home. There are a lot of small sailboats in the various Caribbean
islands free (except for bureaucratic hassles of getting ownership) for the asking left over from terminated "gypsy" cruisers.
- - Other than the 6-on/6-off style of financing
, what is left for the "gypsy" cruisers to keep their finances and boat afloat? You can rule
out any work in foreign countries on a short term basis (except for musicians) as the work permit
requirements take a lot of time and money to get. However, there are in the cruising boat support industry mostly former cruisers who have opted to spend significant time in the "new" country and set up businesses. The key word here is "former," as they have opted to transition to being a resident of the new country and give up cruising as I have defined it above.
- - That leaves only one legal
source of income
for active cruisers, the new opportunities afforded by the world wide web to do business "without borders." There is supposedly some significant amounts of money to be made in that arena. Everything from managing porn sites, Nigerian scams, to FOREX and equity trading, etc. - not sure if there is a moral distinction amongst those. And then consulting, data mining, and other intellectual services. I believe this whole field will allow many more younger cruisers to head
out cruising rather than waiting until they have "retired" and accumulated their nest egg over 40 years or so.
- - But earning money by physical labor outside your home country is a non-starter except for those wishing to "settle" and convert from the cruising life to building a new land business in some other island/country.
- - Bootleg endeavors exist and even there, they are forced to give it up as new bootleggers underbid them. Ideas of doing work for other cruisers is also a non-starter as we all (well off and marginal) are trying to stretch our resources to be able to continue to cruise
further and longer. In other words, we are cheapsters and pinch pennies even with a pocket full of dollars.
- - So don't dream of supporting yourself outside your home country as a "gypsy" cruiser if you don't have a stomach for operating illegally and paying the consequences if you get caught.