I intended to write this before we left but got swamped with work and moving out, here are some of our thoughts on planning this trip.
Although I have been dreaming of one day sailing across the world, merging the fantasy with reality was never going to be easy.
In our dreams everything goes perfectly. I could effortlessly imagine carefree sunsets while playing my guitar in tranquil anchorages across the globe.
In reality, world sailing requires significant planning
The ocean is a dangerous place and as I wrote earlier, I have witnessed first hand it’s ability to take life.Our young family is also not seasoned sailors, most of my experience has been operating aluminum crew boats for work with 300+hp at my fingertips, very different from a large ocean going sailboat. We also have 2 children age 8 & 10 who’s only sailing experience has been a couple of hours on our 14′ hobie cat.
With this in mind we realized that we needed some easy sailing grounds, especially in the beginning while everyone got comfortable with life aboard.
The Caribbean is a common destination for North Americans to find easy sailing grounds and was our first thought, however upon further consideration the Caribbean has some significant disadvantages.
First, half the year is hurricane season and not safe for sailing. If you flee south below 10 deg you can hide out in a hurricane hole, but 6 months of hiding might be not be much fun.
Second, the Caribbean is great for partying on the beach, but I’m pretty sure after a while the kids would get fed up.
Third, the boats were way more expensive thanks to the last hurricane (supply and demand) and we would have to choose a much older vessel to accommodate our budget.
I had always assumed the Mediterranean would be too expensive, but my uncle & aunt had recently spent a few years sailing there and encouraged us to reconsider.
On further research we discovered that Croatia has 30% of the worlds charter fleet and every winter many of these boats come up for sale, whatever sells they replace with a new one. With so many boats for sale the prices came within reach!
Although some areas of Europe can be expensive, Greece has had all sorts of economical challenges in the last few years and become one of the cheapest places to travel. Boats are expensive to operate (B.ust O.ut A.nother T.housand) but so is living in hotels full time. Given that a boat is a traveling home the costs of long term cruising becomes more affordable than one might think. The biggest hurdle is growing the initial capital to begin.
The benefits for homeschooling the kids in Europe would be enormous as we could visit the all beginnings of our western civilization.
We spent hours looking at google earth before decided the Med would be an amazing place to explore.
So our plan began to take shape, buy a boat in Croatia, sail it South to Greece for the summer and find somewhere warm to overwinter. If things went well we could head over to Italy for the second summer.
In January I flew to Croatia with a list of 10 boats to look at (thanks to Yachtworld.com). I personally viewed the top 5 and then took my favorite one out for a sea trial. That went well so a surveyor was hired to go over it with me and I made an offer. The offer was accepted and we purchased a 2005 – 46′ Bavaria. It is a coastal cruiser which means it is not super deep or heavy and designed for easy cruising rather than winter sailing in high latitudes.
It has 4 bedrooms, a master for Sarah and I, 2 aft cabins for the kids, and 1 bonus bunk bed room for storage or guests.
The charter boats are certainly well used but also well maintained, and the owners know the market well and are not expecting unrealistic prices as is often the case with private sellers.
On May 27th we boarded a plane from Vancouver to Split, Croatia and our adventure had begun.