Cruising Finances: Top 10 ideas to make money while sailing – and more

‘How do you finance your cruising life?’ is is probably the question us live-aboards get asked most often. There is no simple answer as there is almost as many answers as there are cruisers out there. I could copy, past and re-explain many a times. Instead, let me just tell you our story in brief and link you to some excellent posts of some fellow cruisers on the topic.

Our finances in a nutshell: Pablo is an accountant and I’m a writer and yoga teacher. With a bit of creativity, we’ve been able to take all of those experiences, contacts, educations, qualifications and passions along with us. I run yoga retreats along the way in selected places where we stop for a bit longer. I also teach daily classes and monthly workshops when we stay in a place for winter (eg Malta’15, UK’14). As to the writing, it’s a a few drops for regular monthly articles for Malta’s FIRST magazine, as well as the occasional bigger one for Australia’s Cruising Helmsman. (Read them here.) Compared to the time that goes into articles, it doesn’t pay, but I love writing, so what the heck;)

Pablo fetches short term contracts when we winterise in those strategically picked locations where he can work in either English or Spanish, and also consults to a few clients online, continuously, while we are cruising. They have the advantage of a very qualified, experienced, international and flexible accountant at a great rate. All he needs is reliable internet (Currently we use a wifi router with mobile sim card and an external dual band antenna). (Need an accountant, lol? Get in touch;) ).


…when we left Sydney, we left without debts and enough savings to buy the boat, get us through the first year and still have an emergency back up. Read our Background story to know more about our saving efforts and the years before we cut the shore lines.

These days, income and expenses roughly cut even, except for the times we hit big boat expenses, like the windvane we are planning to buy in Gibraltar before our Atlantic crossing later in the year. Given that we put big amounts of our saving into the boat, we also decided to go with one of the more expensive insurance, but apparently the one which also pays up when you need them. That’s the one expense I hope we’ll always be wasted, but it feels good to have it.

Now that’s just us. As long as you are able to think out of the box, whatever your skills are, you’ll be able to take them along and make use of them.

Here’s a few ideas of how to keep yourself afloat once you’ve cut the lines:

– If you got captain, skipper or instructor licenses, you can teach sailing, deliver boats or work on yachts.

– If you are willing to spend hours on end every day blogging, you might get the readership necessary to attract some sponsors. Even if that ‘only’ means getting free gear, it can save you thousands.

– If you are into shares and the like, all you need is regular internet to keep going from the boat.

– Ideally rent out your houses (if you have them) and smoothly cruise on the rental income.

– Some dedicated bloggers have been successful with crowd sourcing. All you need to do is convince the masses to fund your dream.

– With no kids in tow, chose your destinations strategically and winter in places where you can get a work visa and either work in your profession or bar tender or cafe waitress.

– Write a book, if you’ve got a story to tell.

– Sell your art or play your music for food in places you visit.

– Handy men? You’ll be surrounded by potential clients – many boat owners often need a hand for fixing sails, repairing watermakers, redoing their electrics, renovating their plumbing… and as a fellow cruiser you’ll have their trust in your hands.

– Cruising part-time/working part-time: Have you got a job at home that allows you to set up some flexible work arrangement?

– Chartering your boat if you’ve got the proper licence and insurance

– Job-sharing

– Topless hairdressing

– Open your own IT consultancy company

– Virtual assistant

– Teach English where you go. This might also work for other professions as long as you can get the visa and necessary qualification equivalents

– Living of Royalties – whether that’s a book you wrote, a video game you developed, videos you produced in the past…

– You can get sponsors for your page, sell advertising or set up affiliate links with companies such as Amazon and West Marine whereby if you mention or promote a product they sell while writing your blog and visitors to your website click through to their website from yours and purchase a product, you receive a small commission


Most importantly, think outside the box!

This will come in handy, not only for financing, but also for actually living your dream!

And voila, the promised links to more great resources for further information on the subject:

Here’s an excellent article from Paul and Sheryl Shard, currently cruising in the Caribbean on their Southerly 49, to start you thinking on the almost innumerable ideas and ways to make money while cruising.

Fellow cruising mum and blogger, Brittany from Windtraveller, spends ways more time every day on the computer blogging than what I do. Thus, she’s come up with an excellent compilation of her own blog posts and links to other great blogs and resources on the subject.

Last but not least, one of my favourite sailing blogs and one of the most established (7 years into their circumnavigation as of 2015!) cruising families,  Behan’s articles from SV Totem are always well worth a read.

The only boundary is your imagination… Can you afford not to go?

Always remember, once you cut the lines, you also cut many of your regular expenses, like phone, electricity and water bills, strata fees, rent/mortgage, fitness studio, clubbing or whatever other hobbies you pursue (hey, many fun activities in paradise like snorkeling, sailing and exploring are 100% FREE!)


  1. Dini, I really enjoyed the article of making money whilst sailing and it has given me food for thought. So far our income from sailing is zero. We really do need to do something and soon. Do you think man boobs count when topless hairdressing and do you need to know how to cut hair.
    Again, another fantastic post from you.

  2. Thanks for the shoutout Dini! Wishing and hoping and planning for a meetup with you on the other side of the Atlantic next year!

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