Frequently Asked Questions:
We keep getting asked the same questions, so we thought we’d post our answers here. If you still need more info, please reach out!
Q: How much will it cost to buy a catamaran to cruise with my family?
A: A quality, used, coastal-cruising catamaran will cost somewhere in the range of $250k - $350k USD (monohulls are much less) or $400k-$800k for a true Bluewater, Ocean-Crossing style cat. When buying a used boat (over 10 years in age) you should expect to put in $50-100k in improvements (new sails, new batteries, new solar, new standing and running rigging, new safety equipment, etc). Finding a used boat with these improvements will appear expensive compared to other boats on the market, but might be worth it. You can also buy new, with several people buying new cats in France and then sailing them to markets with low supply (like Australia) and nearly breaking even on their two year sabbatical. It'll take some more research, but that's the rough cost. Search for boats on YachtWorld and then contact us for a broker reference!
Q: How do you afford to live this lifestyle?
A: We explain it in this video, but basically we saved, sold everything, took out a loan and bought a boat. While we sold our cars, our furniture, and pretty much everything we owned (we kept about 5 boxes of cherished items), we kept our house so that we can live on the rental income. We are not retired, but we feel time with our kids at this age is worth the lost income potential. Our bank loan is from Bank of America and our retirement savings are used as collateral. We pay a minimal interest rate on the loan and look at it as "rent." When we sell Archer we will lose the depreciation amount and the interest we paid, but that will be the true cost of boat ownership (not the estimated value of the boat today). In fact, the biggest loss is actually the opportunity cost of our lost income and potential career growth. Thankfully anchoring is free!
Q: How much does it cost you to live monthly?
A: This varies greatly and depends on how you want to live and where you want to go. It also depends on what boat you selected. It’s fairly safe to say that it will cost you 10% of the value of your boat to maintain it annually (that’s insurance, repairs, upkeep, etc). If you stay fairly local (eg. stay in the Bahamas all season), then your family costs can be quite low. But if you are moving quickly from country to country then the costs start to add up (entry costs, fuel, wear and tear, etc). Food and insurance are the two biggest costs we have, and both get more expensive the more remote you travel. SV Delos has done an outstanding job highlighting their expenses in a YouTube video, or you could consider reaching out to the Totem crew who help consult with new sailors on how to get into this lifestyle.
Q: What insurance company do you use?
A: We have used an Insurance Broker out of Florida and another our of New Zealand to find our policies. Contact Us and we can connect you via email. They successfully found us competitive policies each year. Our policy during the accident was with Concept Special Risks and we'd recommend them. They were also unique in that they included "named-storm" coverage (although the deductible doubles). They were also quite good to us through our claim and kept us afterward. That says a lot.
Q: What film equipment do you use and how do you edit your films?:
A: In 2009 all we had was a small Canon Point and Shoot! It's amazing how things have changed and now we use a Sony A7iii mirrorless camera for most of the footage with a Rode mini wind mic. We also use our iPhone 11 when away from the boat. The time-lapse imagery and underwater video is from our GoPro8. And our drone shots are done with a DJI Mavic Pro 2 (we're now on our third :(. We did a lot of research and found these to be the best options for stabilization, picture quality and ease of use. We edited our videos with iMovie for Season 1 and Final Cut Pro X for Season 2 to present. Cutting down on the number of cameras you use will greatly simplify your film making process and make it easier on yourself. We store all our footage on a LaCie 20TB Raid Drive, and we now back it up with a second one. None of our footage is saved in the cloud as data costs abroad would be too high.
Q: How would you compare your Lagoon 380 to your Outremer 51?
A: We covered this topic a bit in this video (click here!). This is a slightly unfair comparison as the boats were designed for different purposes. The Lagoon 380 was perfect for our needs ten years ago without kids and we did a full user review that you can read by clicking here. However, our biggest complaint about that boat (and most charter-style cats) is that they are designed with interior space in mind first, and often sail extremely poorly as a result. Our Lagoon could barely sail up wind, and could not sail in light wind, so when it came to selecting a boat to “sail around the world” we felt it needed to first be a sailboat, and then be something to live on. This forced us to find a boat with daggerboards and pushed us up into a higher price category, but we feel the added safety of buying a truly “blue-water boat” to be worth it. You can click here to see a video we did on “why this boat.” And to summarize, in 2009 we crossed the Pacific Ocean in ~20 days. With the Outremer we did it in ~15. That’s a big difference.
Q: How do you homeschool the kids?
A: Due to our kids ages (7, 9, 10), we focus on Math, Reading and Writing in our home schooling. For those topics we use a free on-line program called Khan Academy that ensures we keep our kids on the California curriculum for their age (it’s based out of Palo Alto). We also like (even our kids like) the online Math game called Prodigy. We use this as a supplemental way to keep them engaged. And we mix in the odd workbook here and there for something different. For reading, we have them read to us everyday, and for writing we use a mixture of off-the-shelf workbooks, we have them writing reports on things we’ve seen, and we have them write in their journals at least once a week. All Science, Geography, Language and History topics tend to be covered by the places we visit, and those tend to be the kind of reports they write about. Our favorite assignment to date was taking them to a tide pool in Panama, asking each of them to find an animal they didn’t know existed, to research and identify that animal, and then to write a report about it. We had so much fun! Lastly, we try to do school every day. While we may only do school for 2 solid hours, we still do school on the weekends, so we hopefully keep them in-line with their peers. Some passage days and holidays are taken off, of course. However, we will warn you that we've found home schooling to be one of the hardest parts of this lifestyle and that if you get in the rhythm and don't take too many days off it gets much easier.
Q: How do you both share night watch? What’s your schedule?
A: We covered this in our Tahiti video (click here!). How we approach night watch depends on the conditions. In general we employ a 2 or 3 hour rotating watch schedule, where one of us is sleeping and the other one is fully awake (usually sitting at the nav table or at the helm) and looking for ships, squalls or wind shifts. If we are well off-shore and away from other boats and obstacles, and the weather is consistent (no squalls), or if the sails are down and we are motoring, then we let Elizabeth sleep in her cabin while Seth naps by the Navigation table. Our boat has a “night berth” next to the Nav Table, and with a 20 minute timer, Seth can nap and occasionally wake up to check the wind speed/angle and to quickly scan for ships. However, with the AIS Alarm, Radar Alarm and Wind Alarm on the boat, there really is no reason to be sitting at the helm staring into the darkness. That’s how we approach it.
Q: What do you do for Health Insurance while traveling?
A: As Americans, our health care system is quite complicated, and it’s important to maintain “pre-existing coverage.” For this reason we found some “Travel Insurance” coverage through AIG. The cost of their “Patriot” Plan is about $350/month for our family and it keeps us insured for big ticket items or if one of us gets seriously ill we can prove pre-existing coverage. For dental check ups, simple illness and other routine health needs, we pay cash, and thankfully most places have very reasonable health care costs.
Q: What safety equipment do you guys use?
A: We use Spinlock inflatable PFDs for the kids and Mustang PFDs for the adults (no, this is not a sponsored post). The Spinlock PFDs for the kids are the best on the market. Inside we place a WeatherDock AIS man-over-board beacon that automatically releases should anyone go overboard. These are not available in the states (which is ridiculous), so we had to buy them overseas. Both adults also carry personal PLB EPIRBs, all of which fit nicely inside our inflatable vests. As for rules while underway, we have agreed to always let the other person know before leaving the cockpit (even if it means waking them) and that the kids are prohibited from leaving the cockpit while underway. The only exception to this is when we have dolphins visit us underway, but then we accompany them forward.
Q: What email communications equipment do you have underway?
A: We covered this topic in this video (click here!). We do not have internet when away from land, but we do have text capability with our Garmin InReach Device. For an annual fee we have unlimited text - however if I were buying today, we would recommend the Iridium Go device, which turns your smart phone into a satellite phone with the same functionality. This product seems to be the industry leader and standard item for ships of all shapes and sizes. For inshore wi-fi, we both have Google Fi SIM cards that allow us to keep the same phone number anywhere in the world, and it has seemed to work everywhere without the need to go buy a SIM card when you arrive (except for some French islands in the Caribbean). This has proved quite useful when arriving off-shore and trying to contact a marina or the customs people. As for Internet on the boat, we use a 4G LTE Modem by Netgear to plug in a local SIM card with pre-paid data. This is how we connect all our Kindles and iPads when near shore. We also have a SSB (Single Sideband Radio), but if we were building a new boat today we wold not install one as it seems pointless with the advent of Satellite phone technology.
Q: What wireless comms headset do we see you using in your videos?
A: We call our "UltraLight by Eartec" headsets "marriage savers." They look a little dorky, but they allow us to talk without needing to raise our voices. In fact, they help me (Seth) keep my voice nice and low, since Elizabeth can hear me so clearly, which calms everyone's nerves when docking or managing the sails. The only downside to these is the battery will fully deplete if you leave them in the units, so we do have to remove the batteries each time we use them. It's not too hard, but we're surprised the design does not allow you to turn them off.
Q: What do the kids do during passage?
A: Our kids are amazing. They seem to go into a “chill mode” when underway and they adore audio stories (particularly the Hardy Boys, Jack Stalwart and Harry Potter Series). We read to them (we’ve enjoyed reading them the Hobbit and the Sisters Grimm Series), and they read themselves on their Amazon Fire Kindles (this is the best device we have ever purchased as you can remove the video games and internet and it’s just a color book reader that serves up a bunch of books for their particular age). We play board games, do school, eat, sleep and fish!
Q: Got a question we didn’t cover?
Get in touch here!
E sailing our O'pen Bic Dingy Sailboat
Nights like this one in Fulunga, Fiji, make it all worth it.
We love our DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone and consider it a must have item.
Line Honors at the Tahiti to Moorea PPJ Rendesvous Race.
Archer anchored off the southern side of Rangiroa, Tuamotu, FP.
Archer following the trade winds, sailing west into the SoPac sunset.
Archer crew off Namotu Island, Fiji. Surfer's paradise!