Lin and Larry

Don’t Wait to Cruise by Lin Pardey

Teresa Carey Words 12 Comments

The idea of waiting to go cruising until you retire rarely works well. Sailing offshore requires physical strength and/or long practice. Yes, we’ve met people in their 70s who annually cross the Atlantic, in fact, one of our mentors, Eric Hiscock, and his wife Susan, went around the world for the third time after he turned 72, and they crossed the boisterous Tasman Sea to celebrate his 78th birthday. But . . . they were drawing on 45 years of voyaging experience. For a person of any age, it can be exhausting and unnerving to get up at three AM and fight off a lee shore to a safer anchorage in 45 knots of wind. If you are 60 or 70, it’s that much harder. No matter how careful you are, there will be a few nights like that, as well as other nights spent tending warps or clearing fouled anchors. Cruising requires a certain amount of physical and mental fitness. Some people of 70 are more fit than people 30 years younger, but it’s rare to find a couple over 65 in perfect health.

Lin and Larry

If a couple decides to retire in good health and set off cruising on a pension, inflation can be a major factor. A person 45 or younger might think nothing of finding a job for two or three months of the year to augment cruising funds. But when you are 65, you don’t want to spend time that way; besides, jobs are then hard to come by. You might end up like some couples we’ve met who are limited to short cruises to inexpensive places. They always have to cut back because their pensions won’t cover anything more.

Think about it. Why not go now, while you’re young? You can always go back to work later. That’s why we decided to leave when we did—back in 1969 at the ages of 24 and 29. We’d almost finished building 24”4” Seraffyn and we had a successful little business. As we were building our dream ship, our boat-repair-yard/chandlery/accounting business developed rapidly. One day, after some lucrative contracts had come our way, we stopped to analyze our situation. We discovered that if we remained in business for four more years, we could use Seraffyn for local sailing and we’d have perhaps as much as $75,000 in the bank when we were ready to set off—enough in those days to ensure that we could cruise anywhere we wanted without having to work along the way. But then Larry asked, “Look, if we outfit Seraffyn and sell the business now, how much money will we have?  I came up with a rough estimate of $5,000 (Probably equivalent to $25,000 today.) “Then let’s sell out and go cruising,” he announced. “If we leave half in the bank, we’ll still have enough for six or eight months of cruising. If we like it, we’ll find a way to earn more. If we want to stop, we can always come back and start another business.”

Eight months later, we set off, and even though we lost half of our original cruising kitty through unwise investments (believe it or not, a silver mine in Canada), we found it reasonably easy to earn enough to keep cruising for 11 years on Seraffyn, and we laid the groundwork for another  26 years of exploring on board the next boat we built,29’6” Taleisin. Almost every long-term cruising couple we’ve met has had a similar experience. Perhaps it’s because people who can cope with offshore cruising can also adapt to jobs that are available as they cruise. Or perhaps, just because they are cruising people, they are more interesting to potential employers. Whatever the case, once you decide to go, get your boat and a year’s funds and go! You’ll find it’s relatively simple to continue and not too hard to earn your way. If you decide to give up cruising, you may not be able to step right back into the same job situation, but, armed with new experiences and contacts, you might find one that’s even better.

You can read more on this topic by Lin Pardey! Earlier this week I posted Deciding to Cruise. Soon I’ll post Go Small Go Simple Go Now.

You can find more by Lin Pardey at her blog and website. Lin and Larry Pardey have published many books over the years that have inspired Ben and I to set sail. I just cracked the spine on her latest book, Bull Canyon, which I expect will be wonderful like others. We are also excited to meet with Lin and Larry to learn from their years of adventuring and discuss their involvement in One Simple Question


Comments 12

  1. Benji

    Yay! Lin & Larry – my long time heros and inspiration… probably why I ended up in a BCC I suppose! I’ve read most of their books and watched all of their DVDs (except the newest about keeping costs down). Always good info/advice from L&L.

  2. Kari


    I find it so refreshing to see someone write about the possibilities instead of the difficulties. It’s truly inspiring to read your story.
    It evokes a strange mixture between fear, wanderlust and hope in me. Fear because removing the excuses makes it all the more real. Like a friendly kick in the rear to jump in the water.

  3. Dan

    Interesting thought on age and physical condition. One thing I’ve observed is that sailors tend to be in better shape than most others the same age. Take 10 powerboaters and 10 sailors grouped in seperate groups and I’ll pick out the sailors 90% of the time based on physical condition alone. I don’t think it’s the exercise we get but something in a sailors DNA and mindset. I’m not at all surprised that more than a few of my fellow racers in the Bermuda 1-2 singlehanded race are north of 70.

    1. Tom

      Also take into account that being on a sailboat can be like doing Yoga all the time. There is a constant movement that you naturally adjust for. I have noticed that it feels like I had a good workout if I have been out sailing for a few hours.

  4. Sumio Oya

    I absolutely agree what ttey say. I also know that these day it’s getting much difficult to do because the change of the global economy from ’70s and ’80s,,,, because of that their word is so important. If you think, go now not wait…. if you wait till you think it’s ready, it will never come.

  5. Daniel

    I haven’t read or seen much from the Pardey’s except that they seem very popular. I guess I’ll have to check them out and see what they got out there. Always good to learn from the more experienced.

  6. M

    Chris, I followed your link, and this made me chuckle: “I would finish college, make as much money as I could, and retire as early as I could. If modern life is inescapable, best to get it over as quickly as possible; like pulling off a band-aid.”

    This is sort of thing I wonder about too–what’s best? I’m frequently unhappy with work – wondering if I’m truly making the positive impact on the world that I hoped I would. I wonder if I should just pack in the career experience now so that I can enjoy later, or…??? I don’t know. Part of me feels like a spoiled child for even feeling that heavy feeling opening the door to the office in the morning. People are toiling on conveyor lines in factories. I have a cushy office job. Shouldn’t I just get over it and be grateful for my weekend excursions on the boat? I don’t know the answer!

    I really enjoyed Lin and Larry’s post!

    1. Melissa

      Shouldn’t you just get over it and be grateful for your weekend excursions? I submit: NO! I don’t know if you should chuck the career right now or not (although I know what I would have done then if I knew what I know now, if you know what I mean..) and sure, be grateful you get to sail at all, but just be satisfied? Good luck with that! If you are bitten by the sailing bug, it’s hard to be ‘satisfied’ sitting in an office. There will always be people worse off than you. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do all you can to get every ounce of joy out of the life you have.
      We have a 20 year old son in college and we’re encouraging him every single day to think about what will make his life truly happy and go for that. If it’s sitting in an office, fine and dandy, but if it’s not, then why would he waste his life doing that? We hope he will join us on our voyage when he graduates from college. THEN he can decide what he really wants to do.

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