If anyone tells you that they plan to sail into the sunset and live on $5 a day because they’ll be “world cruising,” you may want to remind them that in most places today, you can’t even get a $5 margarita.
The world has grown smaller since adventurous couples like Hal and Margaret Roth cruised exotic islands under sail, and these days nothing is that remote or that affordable.
Still, if you yearn to see the world from the deck of a sailboat rather than a cruise ship, take heart—today there are plenty of expedition-charter operators offering legs of journeys for sale aboard everything from square-riggers to more conventional bluewater cruising boats. Book ahead and join the boat wherever it is in the world at the time. Once aboard you not only benefit from a knowledgeable captain and crew, you also get fed and trained while visiting places where you may still be one of only a handful of annual visitors. Whether you’re seeking to cross oceans, sail high latitudes or gunkhole in islands far off the beaten path, there are lots of opportunities to do so via expedition chartering. It’s not cheap, but it’s still far less than doing it on your own. Here are just a few of the many options out there:
Most expedition charters have a special focus, and Pangaea Exploration dwells on environmental research and marine conservation so you can sail and help the world at the same time. A mix of scientists, journalists and sailors teach you about the health of the world’s oceans as you hone your sailing skills. The trips run one to three weeks aboard a 72ft steel-hulled cutter called Sea Dragon, and the scientific curriculum focuses on oceanography, marine ecology, ocean chemistry and the effects of climate change. panexplore.com
John and Amanda Neal aboard Mahina Tiare, their Hallberg-Rassy 46, focus on ocean passagemaking with expert instruction. At press time, Mahina Tiare was cruising in Fiji. The curriculum is a mix of hands-on training including storm tactics, boat handling, and coastal, celestial and electronic navigation. Applicants should have some experience in sail trim, rules of the road and coastal navigation. Women are welcome and are equal participants aboard, where ages range from 16 to 70. To help with environmental issues, students are invited to join in a beach clean up and bring school supplies to remote island village children. mahina.com
Andy and Mia Schell started 59° North six years ago to pursue their passion for offshore sailing. Since then they’ve added a second vessel and now have two Swan-built sloops that are spending 2019 and 2020 in the Atlantic and Caribbean on an ambitious schedule that reels off 10,000 nautical miles each year. The Schells run the training programs more like an Everest expedition than a Caribbean charter vacation, so the schedule is about learning-by-doing rather than a luxury cruise. For those who aspire to skipper their own offshore passages in the future, this hands-on experience will be invaluable. 59-north.com
Jonathan and Jennifer of Pacific Expeditions and their crew run the 105ft aluminum ketch Apache that sails far beyond the Pacific. Their special focus over the next two years will be participating in the ARC and WorldARC rallies. Legs are 21-40 days long and are a mix of bluewater crossings and island exploration. With guest instructors teaching everything from photography to kiteboarding, there’s lots to do even during long days at sea. For the truly ambitious, there’s a way to stay aboard for all 13 legs and 26,000 miles of the WorldARC for $76,000. pacificexpeditions.com
Expedition Chartering is a Bargain—Really
An 18-month voyage for $100,000 may seem like a monumental commitment, but consider this: you’d be hard-pressed to buy a bluewater boat, much less outfit it for cruising for that amount. You can set off now rather than waiting, you can do it with limited knowledge, and you don’t have to sell all your possessions or convince your family that you’re not crazy. Most importantly it won’t be your responsibility to continually fix the boat in exotic places, which is the ultimate definition of cruising. When you’re done, you walk away without repairing, selling or even washing the boat. That puts a six-figure expenditure into perspective, doesn’t it?
If you’d like to experience the highlights of world cruising but can only do it on a chartering budget, you’ve got options. And you’ll still have enough left over for that margarita.