How to make ends meet while cruising

One of the things I’m often asked is how I can afford to live the life I do. I don’t have a “job” in the traditional sense and I have a tiny RAF pension. I’m not due my state pension for another four years almost.

How then, can I spend my time swanning around on a sailing boat?

The answer to this is not entirely straightforward but, actually, quite simple really.

Firstly, and probably most importantly is your mindset.

If you expect to duplicate your land-based life on a sailing boat then a live-aboard full-time cruising life is probably not for you. Unless you happen to be a squillionaire and can afford a mega-yacht!

You need to take a long hard look at how you live and what you are prepared to leave behind and what you can’t do without. Remember a sailing yacht, even a big one is still quite a small space compared to a house, even a small one! Moon Shadow is thirty six feet long and eleven and a half feet wide at the widest point. Even if she were rectangular that would still only be 414 square feet, in fact, the real figure is less than half of that. Compare that to your living room. Are you starting to get the picture?

So, you need to be quite ruthless in your downsizing!

I quite like this quote from Sterling Hayden:

“What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.”

Once you get your head around this you can simplify your life to a point where the income you require is actually quite modest.

Of course, some form of income is required to keep going. Note that I said “income” not “job”. There is a big difference. With a job, you (generally) trade your time for money but there’s the thing. You want to spend your time sailing and visiting cool places. A job is the last thing you want!

So, income. How do we generate income without a job?

The easiest way is to have a pile of cash left to you, invest it wisely and live off the interest. What, no rich rellies just about to meet their maker?

OK, “plan B” – generate an income yourself.

The first thing you need to consider is how much income you need to live on and look after your home (aka your boat). This, of course, is different for everyone and I refer you back to the bit about mindset and Mr Hayden’s philosophy.

If you can’t do without a beer or ten each night or eating out several times a week, if you can’t give up the cigarettes or any other costly habit, then you are going to need more than someone who can. A LOT more!

Even then there are ways to generate that size of income – it just takes more work and time. Remember, time is the thing we can’t buy or get back so really think about what is more important to you.

So how much do you actually need? Well, (bear in mind I’m writing this in 2021) I’ve heard of cruisers getting by on £400 per month. It is obviously achievable but unless you are a complete hermit that’s pushing it a bit. I also know people who say they couldn’t manage on less than £2500 a month. If you can live simply, cook most of your own meals with ingredients bought in local markets, eat out occasionally, have the odd beer now and then, avoid marinas and spend your nights at anchor, a realistic budget is probably closer to £700 per month. Rember that figure has to include some money put away to fix the boat because as sure as the sun rises, your boat will need fixing sooner or later.

My pension is a little over £300 a month. Obviously, if I just relied on that I’d soon be broke and out of a home.

The answer is twofold: Sponsorship and Affiliate Marketing.


Have you ever been sponsored for running a fun run or even a marathon? Usually, that involves you going to your family, friends and work colleagues and asking if they would sponsor you for the cause you want to support.

In my case, I produce this blog and if you enjoy reading my content and want to help support me you can do so by visiting my Kofi page and making a donation for the cost of a coffee (or whatever you want). It can be a one-off or a regular sponsorship. Any amount is greatly appreciated and will allow me to keep the blog going and improving. One of the things I want to be able to bring to the blog is video content but in order to do that, I have to upgrade my WordPress account which costs over double what I currently pay.

Affiliate Marketing

Have you ever bought something from Amazon? Chances are you have bought that thing from an affiliate of the product or service producer. Amazon is one of the biggest affiliate marketing portals around. Affiliate Marketing is a pretty straightforward and simple way to generate income – you promote a product or service in return for a commission. Your commission comes from the profits of the company that provides the thing you are promoting it is not added on to the price the consumer pays so it is a totally ethical business model. Note that I said “simple” not “easy”. Too many people look at affiliate marketing as a get rich quick scheme. It is not! It takes time and effort to get things organised and running smoothly. The payback is that once you have done so it will, pretty much, run hands-off – you might spend a few hours a week “working” on your affiliate marketing business.

What sort of income can you generate? Well, generating enough to live a cruising lifestyle is pretty “easy”. On the other hand, if you want to have an online business that can replace your current job and enable you to live a “laptop lifestyle” it can be achieved. But, and it’s a big one, it takes years of graft, not to mention considerable financial investment, to build a business of that size. I know a guy that sort of jokes about it and says it took him over a decade to become an overnight success!

For us mere mortals who just need to make enough to keep cruising (or RVing, Backpacking etc.) it can be achieved a lot quicker. We are talking just a few months. Start now and you could have cruising level income six months from now if you do the right things.

So, what are the right things?

Glad you asked!

Remember when you learned to drive? How did you go about that? Did you just get a car and go out and “wing it” or did you find someone that knew what they were doing and get them to teach you? I’m guessing that unless you had an endless supply of cars and liked the taste of airbags you did the latter. Right? In fact, you probably paid a professional driving instructor, didn’t you?

This is the same deal. You need to learn how to do this from someone who knows what they are talking about and won’t rip you off! Yes, be careful, there are a ton of people out there in the affiliate marketing training space that will take your money, sometimes a lot of it, and you’ll end up no wiser than when you started and a few grand lighter.

Luckily, you are reading this. But, I’m not the guy to teach you. Not only am I not good at teaching this stuff, but I also don’t want to spend all my time doing it – I’ve got that deserted beach to check out!

However, as they say, I know a man that can.

His name is Nick Squires. I’ve known Nick for quite a few years and he’s a proper stand-up guy that can teach you everything you need to know (he can even set your business up for you if you want) and will support you as you get started.

In full and honest disclosure, one of my affiliate marketing “income streams” is promoting Nick’s course and service, I get a small commission if you buy the course using my affiliate link and it doesn’t cost you a penny more. It’s the very course that got me started so I know it works! Even better it won’t cost you a fortune. That was important to me because I didn’t have a fortune to invest and I was very cautious, having previously been royally ripped off by another “trainer” of the type I mentioned earlier.


Great! To check out Nick’s course with no obligation whatsoever click here

Thanks for reading and I wish you every success!

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