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When Lin and Larry Pardey Wrote Go small Go simple Go now, they never said go broke.  Skimming through one of the many Pardey books I own I came across their 1977 monthly budget of $450.00 Today that equals $1750.00, or over three times our pathetic budget.

go small go simple go now

A question: Can you give us some specifics on your voyaging for $500 a month. I’ve done a fair bit, but when I subtract the moorage fee there’s not a lot left to live on. After our moorage bill, there is about $9.17 per day for two people (some of which I have to spend on the boat!). Your islands moorage must be in a similar range to ours in Squalicum. What’s the trick?!

This is a great question and one I’m asked often.  With our complete lack of internet I’m backed up over 150 emails today many of which asking this same question.  The simple answer is we can’t and its almost impossible.  Regardless of your budget rare is the sailor who can live within it.  For us the $500.00 is a simple target and it is representative our choices, Go small, go broke or don’t go.

18 months ago when I cut the dock lines completely pennyless I wasn’t looking to circumnavigate, in fact I had no plans other to simply move on and start a new learning process.  Now a year and a half later I’m still only half done with the boat and less than 30 miles as the crow flys  from where I left but it hasn’t stopped me.  We have visited countless anchorages on a dozen islands.  There have been calms and storms both on the water and off.  What I have learned by setting out broke is that its actually quite easy to make a go of it.  As of today I am 3.5 years into my 5 year plan and right on target but thats a old story.

On Lopez Island I watched a few youtube videos on how to do construction and BS’d my way onto a $25.00 and hour roofing job that kept going when the roofing ended.  I also got to work alongside a top secret Lyle Hess being built and picked up lots of yacht work.  On Orcas Island  I have done everything from cleaning yards to window washing averaging 200 bucks for 6 hours work.  On San Juan island I taught sailing, drove the Cabulance and ran Island tours meeting many amazing people.  I always buy and sell boats and Emily has also had wonderful success finding work so we have learned we can earn and live anywhere but the key is you have to be there to find the sweet jobs.  If we can earn as much as the locals we can live like them.

As far as actual money in and out goes, this year saw many financial crisis’s that were completely out of our hands.  It set us way back but were still out here living as we choose and I can assure you Living on Lopez or any of the other islands is a million miles away from where we started.  With an old doggie we can’t go offshore anyways so we cruise locally which we both actually prefer.  Although we would still both prefer to cruise locally in the Caribbean.   This weekend we will sail all day but anchor less than two miles from where we left on what will be our own private island for the whole weekend.

Budgets budgets budgets… we save 12k which takes very little time or effort between the two of us.  That gives us 3k a year for 4 years.  All we have to do is earn an additional $1500 each per year to make our budget.  When we have bad years like 2014 we just start over.  Last year working and living based out of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island was a dream come true, we could practically feed deer by hand from the back of the boat and pluck eagle feathers out of the sky.

We have boat insurance but only because we are required to.  We don’t have any other debt period.  Right now we live quite well on $900 per month, over half of that cost of living will go away when we leave our little marina, “its costs us $500 for moorage and insurance” and again come back at the end of summer.  We do our best not to buy any packaged foods but its a struggle.  There is nothing on the boat I can’t fix myself and we don’t have many luxuries in life.  Among other things Emily is my best friend.  We find quite a bit of luxury between the two of us rarely needing more in life to happily occupy our time.  Our boat is small but also very simple and fun.  We eat very basic but whole foods and always have at least two drinks with every meal, actually Emily doesn’t drink but I do.  We buy top notch gear and it lasts forever.

We also get lots of free stuff from anchors to charts and everything in-between.  I say free but in reality we work very hard to get the freebees that find their way into our lives.  Someday we may sail off into the sunset but right now we are both quite content drifting about on our meager budget.  Fall will find us in the Thousand Islands and again we will work just enough to play for 6-9 months of the year.  There you have it, the no answer answer that I am so famous for.  While I wouldn’t recommend our lifestyle to anyone I would recommend this lifestyle to anyone interested in recapturing their lives.

Based on my Mr banker calculations we would need an average of $1500 per month to live as extravagantly as we can imagine on simple Sookie, we both expect to hit that budget someday and work hard towards it.  For now potatoes, onions and cheap beer and wine keep us happy, fat and free.

“It costs what you have”. ~Bernard Moitessier

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