One of the most difficult things to sort out when it comes to boats and boating is:
"Who should I listen to?" Heaven knows that between us "old salts" and the current
crop of "salt substitutes" we all have our opinions - some good, some not so good,
some bad, and some just down right dangerous and scary.
    So... your first mission is to determine: "Whose opinion is really based on actual
real life experience?" To this end, you need to seek out the ones who have actually
done it. These individuals and couples are really the only ones you want to give
credence to. For all the rest, it is simply a matter of being polite, and letting their
advice go in one ear and very quickly out the other.
    There are a few traditional sources of
misinformation that should be avoided at all
costs. The most popular and influential ones seem to be the most dangerous. As all
reports indicate that the voyaging communities
leading source of misinformation is of
the Boat Salesman.  He after all knows he has the perfect boat for you; and it
has nothing to do with the fact he is months behind on his child-support, has never
been out of sight from land, and couldn't afford the boat you are buying if his life
depended on it.

second leading source of bad information (though well meaning) is the Marina
(most every Marina has at least one of these guys) and they often even
work part-time doing odd jobs around the Marina. Most, are very likeable, friendly,
somewhat knowledgeable and very believable... But they get all their information from
the stories told around the Marina. If they have any personal experience, it was
probably decades ago and probably didn't go that well for them. Furthermore, it has
been so long since their own boat was seaworthy, it would surely sink in place, if
someone untied their dock lines.
third most highly credited source of misinformation is the "Expert".  Now, this
guy is the one
that claims he did it 10 or more years ago, and is about to do it again. You probably will
meet this guy at the Marina's Bar & Grill, when the two of you strike up a conversation
about boats. This guy sounds like he really knows his stuff, so you start asking
questions and sharing your dream. He has lots of advice. A quick friendship develops
and he invites you down the dock to see his blue-water, ocean passage ready, vessel.
Your excitement bubble should pop however, the moment you see it is a Bayliner.

    Last, but certainly not least by any stretch of imagination - is your family and friends.
Folks, I
thank God every single day for my parents. Not only did they adopt me, they loved me,
they taught me right from wrong, good from evil, took me to church every Sunday and
Wednesday, and mostly... they guided me by near perfect example. I respect them,
admire them, and love them for it.
    But... If I had of followed their advice, I would be struggling to make a living on a
small farm deep in the heart of Texas. I never would have seen the ocean much less
boat across it. As good meaning, and with well intentions as they may be... Your
friends and family can be the most negative influence you will have to over come in
the process toward living your cruising dream.
    Safety of course, must always come first. And being safe doesn't start
when you toss those lines, put on you PFD and start maneuvering out of your
slip. It starts with the careful planning and selection of your boat.
    Don’t let your research and study lead to the conclusion that there is any
such thing as the perfect cruising boat. There isn't.
    One of the things that continues to impress my son and I is that we could
never remember seeing two of the same kind of boats out voyaging.
Furthermore, we saw none (and I do mean NONE) of any of the vessels that
you see always featured on magazine covers, or in their reviews and articles.
At sea, and in foreign Ports, these vessels were notable - only by their
    Fact is, the true blue water cruising boat is not perfect - no not one. It is at
best a close encounter of the "compromise" kind. Most often, it is sailed by
sailors on tight budgets just like you and me. So remember... The object of
this boat defining process is not perfection, but rather safety and comfort.
You are simply looking for a safe, comfortable, workable solution to a
problem. The problem of course, is finding a vessel that will get you where
you want to go, and back again. The solution of course, is a safe vessel that
fits (not perfectly) but "satisfactorily" well within your capability, comfort,
philosophy and pocketbook.

    We think it is beneficial to keep an open mind and study as many real
boats as you can get aboard. For six months before we purchased our last
one, my son and I must have climbed a-board 300 boats (maybe more), and
that doesn't include the 300 or so we saw and walked away from without
    In your case, it most likely won't be easy to find your "Holy Grail" of
cruising. Ours was hidden in a crowd of boats on the hard at the back of a
boatyard. It was not even the boat we went there to see. The Marina said she
had been sitting unattended on her cradle for over 10 years. She looked
terrible and in very bad shape. But before we bought her, we paid for a
Certified Marine Survey.

    The survey confirmed our suspicions that the vessel lived up to her
reputation, and was every bit as safe and sound as the day she was made. So,
as terrible as she looked, she only needed paint and polish to bring her back
in shape.
    In reality, hopefully no matter what else we say, or what of this site you
remember, when you see "your vessel" you will know it. But, if you take
nothing else we say from this website - when you find your Holy Grail for
cruising - make sure you get a complete professional Certified Marine
Survey. This, more then anything else, can save you from making a very
serious mistake. It can not only save you thousands of dollars, it might just
save your life or the life of a loved one.

    As things begin to fall into place, you will become more keenly aware that
what you are really about to embark on. . . a shockingly gigantic, absolutely
exhilarating 100% leap of faith. Remember, chances are you will be able to
afford the dream. Whereas, chances are, you will never be able to afford the
fantasy. . . So be smart, start small, and keep it simple. Don't let your "dream
boat" be your "dream buster".
Your voyaging safety starts with your boat selection.
    Before we get into details of any particular boat - you need to understand this one fact, very clearly.
            It is the fact that the very moment you select your boat, you selected your long term forever cost
of cruising and ownership. Even
after your boat is fully paid for - the moment you choose your boat, you
set your forever on going cost of cruising. So choose your boat wisely as your fuel burn rate and cost
of fuel could result in being a real dream buster.
Don't listen to the nay-sayers. They are the ones that let all the negatives keep
them from living their dream... Don't you dare let them prevent you from living
Get a Certified Marine Survey!
As an experiment and to prove a point, in 2009 my oldest son & I
purchased this 1960s 28' Albin Vega. While we each already owned our
own vessels - this was a special project for us that had a purpose. We
were on a mission, determined to discover just how "cheap" a cruising
couple could cruise America's Great Loop.
Our criteria was the vessel had to be safe, seaworthy, and reasonably
comfortable for two people, as well (of course) capable of cruising
America's Great Loop. This 28' Albin Vega seemed to met the minimum
criteria we were looking for.
        We found it in St. Augustine, FL. Purchased it for $3,000, and the only
thing we did to it was paint and polish from bow to stern, and add new
batteries, take the mast off, add a large hard Bimini, with solar panels and a
dinghy. We spent a full year living and cruising the Loop spending only
$1,300 for fuel.
(I don't think 2 people can do it with this comfort, for
After the Loop, we then stepped the mast and Island hopped our was
through the Caribbean to Venezuela and back. Soon after, we sold the boat
for exactly what we paid for her.
        So whats the point?  Don't let the size, age, or cost of your boat limit
the size of your cruising dreams. There are many great used boats 'out
there' for little money.
A certified marine survey will insure you are
getting a good safe seaworthy vessel.
You can do this!
This 28' Albin Vega cost us $3,000. After some paint &
polish, we took her over 6,000 miles cruising the Great
Loop, and then all the way to Venezuela & back.
I paid $9,000 for this 1969 Rassy. She's been through
the Caribbean twice, and across the Atlantic to Italy.
    Living the dream has an awful lot to do with your choice of boat. My
first live aboard boat was a brand new one. I will never make that
mistake again. A Certified Marine Survey will give you a trained
professional report on the exact current condition of any used boat. It
will tell you what's wrong with it now, what needs to be done now, and
needed repairs or replacements now and in the near future.
    Bottom line - a Certified Marine Survey will prevent you from buying
an unsafe vessel that is not seaworthy. It's worth it's weight in gold,
simply for the peace of mind you will have on your voyage.
- The Frugal Voyager -
© 2000 - All Rights Reserved
- the Frugal Voyager -
- the Frugal Voyager -
- the Frugal Voyager -
- the Frugal Voyager -
There are two types of "Trawlers". So be
careful when shopping for one. . .
      One is a "True" or referred to as a "slow"
Trawler. These vessels have a full
displacement hull (as does a sailboat) and
typically come with a small single engine -
normally around 120 - 135hp. They offer
maximum comfort and space for their size of
any boat on the market. After a sailboat - they
will be the absolute most affordable and the
economical (fuel usage) of any cruising boat
you can buy.
BE AWARE - There is also a "Trawler" that
is referred to as a "Fast or Swift" Trawler.
Technically, these are not Trawlers at all, they
just look like one. They have semi
displacement hulls and normally come with two
(or twin) engines typically in the size of 250 to
350 hp. These babies are made to attract
those that feel 8 knots is too slow.
      So the "fast or swift" Trawler typically
offers a comfortable cruising speed of about  
12 knots. The result? A 50% increase in
speed, and a 200% (or more) increase in fuel.

      A "true" Trawler will NOT go faster than its
designed hull speed. Whereas a "fast" Trawler
will zoom on up to a 25 knot top speed. Doing
so however can result in burning as much as
50 or more gallons of fuel per hour. Where a
"true" trawler will only burn about 2 to 3
gallons per hour at its top cruising speed.
      My experience has been those that have
more speed available will use it. Often this can
mean the difference between burning $35,000
in fuel for one voyage around the Great Loop
vs burning $10,000 or less in a "true" Trawler.
If I had known about this boat in
time, I would have bought her.

I then would have cut the
mast off at a height of 15 feet
above the water line.
Then I would mount my
antennas and anchor lights
to that. . .
and the result would have been
a wonderful boat for cruising
America's Great Loop.