How do we afford to sail? (Part 1)–By Brian

We get asked this question a lot. It’s definitely in the top three, right up there with storms and pirates. And rightfully so- the average age on Delos is 27. I being the only 30-something on board do my fair share to bump that up.

brian trautman sv delos before sailingbrian trautman sv delos after sailing

Before sailing working 70 hour weeks….. And After Sailing catching 70cm fish….. Is that even the same guy?!?!?!?!?

I’ll just come right out and say NO this isn’t our parents boat, we didn’t steal her, we didn’t win the lottery, and finally my favorite of all time….. NO we’re not a wayward band with a one-hit wonder that no ones ever heard of! So how then does a random group of regular non-retired semi-adults without rich parents sail around the world? The answer is sacrifice. You have to want it more than anything else in the world and be prepared to give up a lot of things people think are impossible to do without. If it was any other way I don’t think it would be worth it.

There was once a time when I worked more than anyone should. I had just quit my corporate job in my mid twenties and was trying to make a go of my own business. 70 hour work weeks were the norm. My priorities were a lot different then and I lived to work rather than worked to live. Every thought, action, and the spare moment was spent on the business and how to make it grow. It was an all consuming endeavor and I poured everything I had into it. And guess what? The business succeeded but at the expense of my personal relationships and quality of life. I was not an entirely happy and healthy individual. Maybe on the surface I seemed happy but I yearned for something else, something more. I refer to this as BS (Before Sailing).

Then one hot summer day in Seattle, which are few and far between, I ventured into the library for some forgotten reason. A book with a beautiful blue picture of the Pacific Ocean on the cover caught my attention. The title was something like “Cross the Ocean In Your Own Boat!” Was it even possible to sail your own boat across an ocean? The thought had never occurred to me. Wasn’t this something only old-school pirates and cruise ships did? I had done some lake sailing on my Catalina 22 and occasionally ventured out onto Puget Sound for a weekend cruise but the thought of undertaking an ocean crossing voyage blew my mind. And this is where the quest began. The idea of being self-sufficient and voyaging off the beaten track to exotic locations became a sort of addiction. Suddenly a switch flipped in my head and I knew. This is what I wanted to do.

And so the four-year plan was born. I read cruising blogs and subscribed to Practical Sailor. I read as many cruising books as possible to figure out how much money was needed. “The Voyagers Handbook” by Beth Leonard is a great one. Low and behold, I found that I was going to need a lot of money to be able to pay for the extravagant things that I needed to be able to live the life of a sailor. I knew it was going to be expensive, of course I did, but I have to admit that I was actually shocked to learn just how much it would actually be. At one point, I even considered looking into sites like SoFi and using their personal loan calculator to see if there was any way I could get a loan, and be able to afford to pay it back, all whilst trying to afford everything I needed to be a sailor. Boy oh boy, I never thought that it would be this much work. It was then that I knew I would need to save in other areas if I ever wanted to achieve this goal of mine.

Luxurious vacations were traded for trips to boat shows. Dinners out became dinners in and that planned new car was scrapped. The 1997 Toyota 4-Runner would do for a few more years and I can look at an encompass insurance review to save money on the insurance. At this point every fiber of my being was dedicated to making my dream a reality. Delos was purchased and all worldly possessions not required for sailing were sold. Gone was the Sea-Doo, fish tank, plasma TV’s, and weight set that was collecting dust in the garage. It was incredibly liberating to shed all these possessions and reduce what filled a 3 bedroom house to a single car load.

The economy in the US went straight to hell in the end of 2008 and the business I’d poured my life into lost something like 90% of it’s customers within a 3 month period. I wasn’t phased, I felt almost relieved. The decision was made for me and everything was falling into place. Now was the perfect time to go sailing. Mind you, the boat wasn’t paid off and I still had a monthly mortgage, I actually used an online secured loan calculator to see how much I could borrow If I needed it. It wasn’t easy to find a mortgage loan, I must tell you. It took me a while until one of my friends suggested that I search on the internet. I had to then surf online for finding the right broker who could provide me with a wholesale lender list which would make my job of finding a lender easier. I was so excited and I just needed to make sure I was financially secure. Luckily, I had enough cash stashed away to get to Australia. In fact, I had my projected budget to within a few hundred dollars. The way things lined up seemed almost eerie. Wayne Dyer would have approved. I told myself I’d sail until I ran out of money or it stopped being fun, which ever came first.

Australia came and my savings ran out. I found myself fairly broke (and with a boat mortgage) in the land-down-under but still with a burning desire to carry on sailing. The last three years had been the complete opposite of my pre-sailing life. I didn’t work at all, I just lived my dreams to the fullest. Of course this had a cost and the balance in my accounts reflected it. Luckily I have two awesome partners (Eric and Joe) that continued running our company in my absence. I bought a laptop and joined back to the real world while working over the magical internet from Australia. This time things were different though. I promised myself I would seek balance in my life. Not work too much, not work too little, just enough to make some cash to keep sailing.

So now that the history of how I got a boat and a mortgage is covered how do we actually afford to sail NOW? (See Part 2!)

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