Working and Cruising! 
By Trish Lambert

How can you combine working and cruising? 

You'll love this... another sailing ladies story about that often talked about cruising kitty and how much do you need to set sail bound for adventure?

Is $250 in cash enough?  Find out...

In my second phase as a first mate, I took a pretty big risk. When my husband, Jim, and I left San Diego harbor for points south, we had $250 in cash. That was the extent of our financial holdings.

Ciao Bella was well outfitted and provisioned. We were going into Mexico, and we planned to cruise very much on the cheap.

No marinas, no shore side restaurants, lots of fishing to feed ourselves. 

Sure, we knew that $250 wasn't going to get us very far, but it would get us where we wanted to go, and we planned to work on the way to add to the coffers.

Working and Cruising & Marketable Skills:

Actually, Jim planned to be working and cruising. He was, and I assume still is, a master of anything mechanical or electrical.

He had marinized and installed our Perkins 4-108 engine, had rewired the entire electrical system, installed our windlass, and done all sorts of amazing things to Ciao to get her ready for sea.

We both figured that his skills would be easily marketable to other cruisers, and that our cruising funds would be regularly fed by his work on boats in the places we visited.

We were right. Jim kept busy through our whole three years of working and cruising in Latin America.

He rebuilt alternators, troubleshot electronics, fixed air conditioners and engines, and sold or bartered all kinds of things.

Ciao became something of a floating warehouse, and the cruising fleet got in the habit of checking with us when they needed parts or services.

In Balboa, Panama, he was contracted by Panamanians to service the state-of-the-art electronics aboard their mega yachts. 

Entrepreneurship on the waves:

Though my skills tend more toward  computer related talents like writing and graphic design, I was able to add my bit to the finances.

We had a sewing machine and rolls of boat canvas on board. I provided canvas services along the way, ranging from quick rip fixes to full on awnings. I even upholstered cushions for "outside seating" on one of the large yachts we encountered. The bottom line is that we were never broke, and in fact, never had less than the $250 we started with.

Entrepreneurship on the waves is not at all uncommon. We met many folks who ran businesses from their boats in order to feed the cruising kitty and keep working and cruising. Most of them, like us, were providing mechanical/electronic services or were doing canvas work.

We were in a location where there was a lack of shore side businesses offering that sort of expertise, so the choice of métier was a good one.

This isn't the only way to make money as you go. Other folks worked on land, either locally or back in the States, for some part of the year in order to remain solvent. One couple I knew in Mexico hailed from Alaska, where he ran a carpentry business that subcontracted to residential developers.

With the Alaskan building season active only during the summer, this couple spent three or four of the hottest Baja months working in Alaska, then rejoined their boat for the rest of the year to enjoy the cruising life. Not a bad deal!

Know how in carpentry, mechanics, and electrical systems-especially as it relates to boats-can translate into work almost anywhere. Healthcare practitioners, particularly nurses, seem to be able to pick up work as they cruise domestic waters.

When we made our passage down the ICW from the Chesapeake to Charleston, we met a couple, both emergency room nurses, who put into port from time to time to get contract work at local hospitals.

In the Caribbean we met folks who were working and cruising as bartending, waitering, clerking, boat washing, word processing-all kinds of jobs that were easily gotten for short periods of time.

Working and cruising along with filling the kitty while you're on the move is certainly doable. Having the right skills, the willingness to work, and an ear for opportunity will go a long way toward creating income. And once you've got what you need, you can set sail again!

Trish Lambert has been a cruising sailor for over twenty-five years and a first mate three times, with three different skippers and three very different cruising styles.

She knows first hand what makes cruising successful, and what she has to share may surprise you! Whether you are a skipper or first mate, a singlehander or part of a cruising couple, sail boater or power boater, Trish has insights that will help make your cruising dream a reality.

Article Source:     Trish Lambert

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