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How to make money while cruising. Ways to earn money while sailing.

Updated on July 25, 2015
Blue water sailing
Blue water sailing


You can do anything from cutting hair, household chores, boat repair, the possibilities are endless. The idea is to make just enough money to keep having fun. As long as you are a hard worker you will always be able to find some kind of way to earn money. Begin by thinking of things that you are good at, like to do, or areas of experience.

Laws and legalities

While you can earn plenty of money while cruising, you will need to keep in mind the rules, regulations and laws of the countries you visit. If you plan to work in any other country besides the country of your residence, you will need a work visa for this to be legal. You can work outside of your country legally without a work visa as long as you don’t work for money. You would be bartering your services or goods for other services or good most likely from other cruisers.

Sailboat sunset
Sailboat sunset

Examples of how to make money sailing

Writing: Obviously you like me can write blogs and hub pages. A blog can be formatted however you like. Blogs can be stories, journals, long or short articles, how to’s , the possibilities are endless. Hub pages (what you are currently reading) are more restricted. They are informational articles. Even though hub pages are restricted to being “how to” or informational, you can definitely relate your own experience and stories. You can also write short stories and articles to sell to magazines and some websites.

Skills and knowledge you already possess: You may be able to use skills you already have to make money, or even some of your favorite hobbies. Are you a good sewer or quilter? Consider sail repair. With a small investment in an industrial sewing machine, and a small amount of new knowledge on sails, you will be on your way to earning money and becoming self-sufficient (if you are living in a sailing vessel). Do you cut or color your own hair? Consider bartering salon services. Keep in mind though, that unless you are in open water you need a license to charge for your salon services.
Stocks: Trading stocks can also be a good way to invest some money. Just make sure this is money you can live without. Don’t lose your whole kitty on a “sure thing” that turns out to be a bust. If you are good at weighing risk you can fairly easily make some good money with stock. If you are new to stocks start small. If you’re already into stocks all the better. The only drawback is you will need to be somewhere with internet connection.

Photography: Many websites and magazines will also pay you for those gorgeous pictures you are sure to be snapping on you adventures.

Hull diving: Is diving something you enjoy? As mentioned above, perhaps hull cleaning is the money maker for you. Hull divers clean the hull (underside, bottom of boat, part that’s in water) of boats while the boat is still in the water. Most boat owners will have their boats cleaned once a month in cold water and twice a month in warm water. This allows the boat to move through the water with less drag, saving fuel and increasing speed. Your fellow cruiser will probably do this themselves, but many land loving boat owners will employ such as yourself to do the job for them. You will simply suit up dive down with a soft brush or pad, and a small putty knife for barnacles and give the hull a good wipe down. A 25ft boat will take you roughly a half hour and will earn you approx. $50 ($2 per foot). Many people charge $2 per foot for sail boats and $3 per foot for motor boats. Before you start be sure to read up on the regulations for hull diving in that state.

Mechanics: If you are knowledgeable about engines and how to repair them you will be able to earn a fair amount of money. Most sailing vessels have diesel engines, and of course motor boats have one kind of motor or another. Marine mechanics earn good wages. You can work on vessels of other cruisers for trade of goods or cash. Even if you aren’t thinking of making money working on boat engines, a good stable knowledge of mechanics will serve you well on your own boat.

Real estate: This may sound weird as we’re talking about sailing around the world without ties, but real estate can be a good money maker. Consider buying fixer uppers and selling them, or renting them out. If you had a few good rentals you wouldn’t really need to think about making money at all. I would suggest hiring a property manager though. They usually charge about 10% of the monthly rent, but will take care of everything for you. This is a good route if remodeling is something you are either good at or like to do.

Skipper or crew: It is very easy to find work as either skipper or crew. Private vessels are more likely to hire you as a skipper to show them around while they relax on their yacht. Luxury and commercial vessels will hire crew workers. As you are sure to have some knowledge of sailing, and must enjoy being on the water this may be a good option for you. Consider working a month or so and then taking some time off to cruise.

Sailboat sunset
Sailboat sunset

The fact about earning money while sailing

Just as on land you can earn plenty of money on the water if you have passion and determination. Remember you are cruising to have fun, so don’t think about getting rich, but getting enough money to live (and have fun and buy some booze too). Think of things you are good at or have always wanted to do and how you can sell those goods or services.
Happy cruising and as always smooth sailing!


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