If you’re thinking of retiring on a sailboat (or any boat), Sailing Into Retirement: 7 Ways to Retire on a Boat at 50 With 10 Steps That Will Keep You There Until 80, a newly released book by Jim Trefethen (author of The Cruising Life) is a must read.
Is retiring on a boat your goal or just a pleasant fantasy? Sailing Into Retirement guides novices as well as more experienced boaters step by step through the process of determining if sailing into the sunset is right for you. Then the book provides thought provoking chapters on choosing the type of cruising and the RIGHT boat. And finally, several chapters show how to modify the boat for older couples to maximize enjoyment and safety. Actually, this information is valuable for would be cruisers of any age.
Reading Sailing Into Retirement was very reminiscent of David & I! We identify with Jim and his wife. We’re a few years younger, just sold our cruising sailboat which leaves us wondering “what’s next”. The authors sold their boat, leaving them boatless “for the first time in more than 40 years and found themselves with the leisure and resources to do just about anything they wanted to do” and after 3 years exploring the US decided that there was something missing. Sounds familiar! Here’s our review, divided into the major sections of the book:
“As we sail into retirement, complicated is what we want to avoid, so we need to find another more adaptable ‘ism’ to apply to our style of living on the cheap while seeing the world from the decks of a cruising yacht.” … Sailing Into Retirement
The first section of the book advocates something the author calls “Basicism” – explaining that for most of us, consumerism doesn’t compliment the lifestyle — i.e. if we continue to buy the “latest greatest keeping up with friends” stuff, we may not have enough money and savings to retire on a boat comfortably. And the book is all about comfort – minimalism may make an appearance but it is definitely not a recommended lifestyle. There are 10 specific recommendations labeled the “10 Step Austerity Program” to let you decide whether this method of achieving the dream of sailing into the sunset is right for you.
Since we already subscribe to the first 5 Steps, we can endorse the book’s recommendations – especially about not selling the farm (so to speak) until you know that you’ll actually love the lifestyle. Meeting cruisers that sold everything to achieve their dream and now they’re not sure it was the right dream makes me sad. Conversely, meeting cruisers who sold everything and love it, makes me smile, so you never know… This book’s recommended 10 Step recommendations allow you to decide how to approach your dream.
“The type of retirement cruising you decide to undertake depends on many things: Money is among the most important, as is your tolerance for a lifestyle many will regard as a bit eccentric if not downright odd. Your health is one we will discuss in a latter chapter, and your mental attitude is another. Familial relationships, business commitments, self-confidence, nautical expertise, the ability to make your own decisions, fears and phobias, and a host of other factors are all germane to a successful retirement cruise. But the most important decision that must be made
is the decision to go. Once you cross that meridian, where you cruise and how you do it becomes incidental.”
The second section of the book summarizes exactly where we’re currently stuck – we’ve done so much already and we know we don’t want to sail to the South Pacific and New Zealand which was our original goal – we know we’d like to simplify and not have to maintain such complicated systems ourselves, but beyond that we have little idea of where we’re headed.
This section of the book does a nice job of exploring pros and cons of the possibilities of cruising locales from The Great Loop, to Coastal Cruising, to The Inside Passage (to Alaska), to Offshore Cruising, to cruising European canals and more. We already know the ins & outs of each possibility, so we just need to decide!
“There is no way anyone can tell you what size boat you should buy for a retirement cruise; there are simply too many variables in your needs and lifestyle afloat to even hazard a guess…The next big decision you must make after size is cost; deciding how much you should spend on a boat can be a bugbear for sure, but don’t forget to consider the operating costs before you decide to buy.”
This section offers practical advice no matter what your wealth (or lack thereof) in selecting the right budget for a boat, what kind of boat works well for each of the different types of cruising and much more. The 10 Step Plan for Buying a Boat is straightforward and helpful even for those of us on the second time around.
“A comprehensive safety check is one of the first things you should do after you take possession of your new/old boat. Older folks are prone to falls from slipping and tripping, concussions from bangs on the head, and broken bones from being thrown across a cabin. So be extra diligent in searching out and fixing any condition that looks like it might cause problems. This chapter points out some of the most obvious items and conditions to check”
Invaluable pointers – such as grab rails and bars, lifelines, galley safety and many many more. This section of the book is valuable not only for older folks but for ANYONE going cruising!
This book is helpful, not only for those thinking of retiring on a boat, but even for folks like us that are in the process of rethinking our cruising aspirations and what we want to do when we retire … well, actually we retired 12 years ago, but so I guess now we’re re-inventing retirement! I suspect we’ll find some of the same things after we travel across the country for awhile that occurred to the “Sailing Into Retirement” authors! Great to know we’re not the only ones!
Anyone read the book yet? Please leave a comment and share! Cheers! Jan