Welcome To Sailing On A Shoestring

This page is for those frugal folk who yearn to set sail on wide ( and not so wide) waters.


Some of the content is from my two e books ( available for on line purchase at†† the artisans' co-op lake ontario store


I hope also to publish other peopleís tips and experiences on budget boating. Please send us your ideas and suggestions on how to have more fun for less money afloat.


My Top Five ways to save money afloat


Keep it small-The most bang for my buck has been my canvas covered kayak car topper, built in 1974 for just under a hundred dollars and still going strong


Try not to pay people to look after your boat. If you can do it yourself, have at it. (Admittedly not always possible for people who have boats with engines!)


Share The Costs- find a big sister, another penniless friend, or someone else to help pay the dock bills.(A really good way to do this if youíre single is to marry another boater who has a job, but warning- make sure he/she is sympathetic to the concept of FRUGAL boating!)


Borrow The Boat Donít Buy It- Iíve never done this myself, however I have loaned a boat to someone else who was sailing on a shoestring. And he paid the dockage.


Figure out some way to make your boating hobby produce income- catch fish, haul cargo, make a movie or do something creative or nominally profitable with your yacht.




This page is for people with large dreams and small pocket books. Its intended market is that intrepid soul who believes now is the time. After 35 years of debt free yachting on a small budget I know it can be done. It wasnít always easy but it was worth it. Self reliant sailing on a shoestring has taken me to fascinating places and introduced me to interesting people. Budget boating has given me adventure, beauty, travel to exotic places and yes, even romance and true love.



When I started sailing my own boatin 1970 I thoughtIíll do this for as long as I can. I frankly never thought I would be able to afford to sail my boat for more than a few years. But each spring something came along to make the practice just affordable enough to eke out another season. I single handed for nearly 30 years before joining forces with another boater. Since then the financial picture has brightened a bit, but as we are both self employed so budget boating remains adviseable for this household.


Others have written about cruising for extended periods of time on a budget, but fewerbooks offering advice on frugal day sailing and weekend cruising in coastal waters seem to be available. I suppose thatís because weekend sailors are presumed to have jobs with adequate wages to pay for their yachting hobby-jobs that pay more than the temporary work in a book factory orthe seasonal cannery work that supported my ďyachtĒ for several seasons.


A good general book on living cheap that is wellworth reading is How to Survive Without A Salary by Charles Long (required reading for free lance writers and other creative self employed types). The basic principles of frugality it promotes make it possible for me to own a yacht. I hope this modest booklet helps get you afloat. Itís grand out there and now really is the time. Life is uncertain so eat desert first!


Happy sailing.


For more on my other books about boating and Lake Ontario visit www.silverwaters.comor the country store at www.brownroad.com


Send us your own stories and suggestions on having more fun for less cost. Below




My Best Buy


These days there is an increasing supply of used boats out there while demand for them is flat or in some areas even in decline. This makes it a buyerís market and itís a lot easier to find a good reasonably priced 25 or 30 footer than it was twenty years ago. Back then the supply of second hand plastic boats was considerably smaller than today. And back then we didnít have the Internetís direct buyer to seller websites with no middle man to share the profits with .


Even so, the two best boat buys of my life occurred without the help of technology. They both happened through the action of that illusive but undeniable life force-luck. The first of these fortunate findings occurred about 25 years ago. I was then going through a classic wooden rowing and sailing boat phase. I had decided that I simply must own a beautiful stylish antique like the St. Lawrence skiffs that I saw each summer at the antique boat show in Clayton NY.I would gaze upon the exquisitely crafted Rushton canoes and skiffs with their gleaming bright work and splendid workmanship with longing. I wanted to glide silently across mist wreathed waters in one of those elegant fine lined lapstrake beauties in the worst possible way. But alas the restored cedar and mahogany skiffs I lusted after were all priced at four figures, the cheaper ones running about a third of my annual income.


I ended up building a fourteen footer from a kit. It took a solid week of work to create a serviceable if less than elegant boat from three gallons of goo and several yards of fiberglass cloth and mat and plywood. The result was no featherweight, but she was tough and she served me well for several years. Then I discovered a classified ad for a beat up but useable antique lapstrake skiff. I bought it. Now I had two rowing and sailing boats.


One evening while visiting my sister I spotted an upside down hull under a pine tree in her neighborís yard. My heart leaped as I recognized the slim hull of aSt. Lawrence skiff. Here was the real McCoy, an antique from the 1880s. Why boats like this had graced the cover of the Wooden Boat magazine. We rolled the boat upright, much to the annoyance of a large black rabbit that had been living under it. This one even still had its builderís plate so I could date it with some certainty. I promptly offered the owner who had found the boat floating in the lake the year before 200 dollars. (Iím sure he would have been delighted with half that amount) and took the boat home. Now I had three rowing and sailing boats.


Perhaps ten years later an antique dealer saw the skiff in my motherís barn and offered me a thousand dollars for her. I still had antique skiff number one and with a pang or two of remorse I accepted the 800 dollar profit knowing the boat would be fully restored and appreciated.


To date, that is the only boat Iíve ever managed to sell at a clear profit. Come to think of it, itís one of the few boats Iíve ever managed to sell period. Most of the boats Iíve associated with since 1970 are still with me!