Shoestring cruising plan - advice/critique?

MaxCG

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I'm in my late twenties and have been saving for a year or so with the intention of buying a boat and perhaps spending a year (or more) doing an Atlantic circuit. All in all, I should have about £30k to work with. I've come up from several years of being a dinghy instructor and have crewed on a few deliveries so am not a novice sailor, however, I have never skippered a yacht of any size.

My plan is a buy a small, older, seaworth boat in the spring. Most likely an Albin vega (27') which you seem to be able to pick up in Sweden for 20,000 - 60,000 SEK (~£2000 - £5000) in decent condition. I'd spend some time acclimatising in the non-tidal Baltic before sailing her home to a mooring on my local river in Wales and fitting her out for blue water (windvane, new rigging if >5 years old etc.). Aiming to spend less than £15k total on the boat and preparations.

Across Biscay in late August/early Sep and across the pond in December. Spend the winter cruising the Antilles and most likely return home via Bermuda/Azores in May or alternatively: 1 - Leave the boat tied up in a mangrove over the summer whilst I return home to work, I've heard of it done but am a bit dubious about safety + mould or 2 - Keep going across the Pacific, arrive in Australia/NZ and get a working holiday visa to fund the rest of a circumnavigation.

Obviously, I will be keeping to a tight budget and on such a small boat will not have many of the luxuries (headroom!) that most modern liveaboards consider essential but I'm young and reckon I can put up with it. Freedom and improving my seamanship are what I'm largely after.

In my position would you do anything differently? Do you see any challenges which I haven't foreseen (especially financial)?

Cheers!

Max
 

st599

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MaxCG

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You need to budget for VAT and Import duty, plus there was some talk of having to bring the boat up to modern standards when importing in to the UK - https://www.rya.org.uk/news/rya-and...tial-new-costs-of-trading-second-hand-vessels

Most working visas need to be applied for from your home country - you don't get them on arrival. Check with NZ and Australian immigration.
Good points! I'm aware VAT will need paying but am struggling to find out whether it would be calculated based on the price for which I bought the boat in Sweden, or based on the market value in the UK. The CE standard issue seems incredibly opaque and there hasn't been much news since 2021. I'd like to assume that it would apply largely for fairly recently built boats being imported and not a small cruiser from the 70s. If it proves too much of an issue I would consider keeping the boat in Sweden (very reasonable mooring fees).

Re visas I would apply online well in advance if I knew I was heading down that way.
 

MaxCG

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There’s an Albin Vega for sale I Galicia……you know they don’t like going basckwards
Do you have the details? Yes, I've heard of their shenanigans in reverse. Fortunately, I suspect I will not be spending much time in marinas.
 

Wansworth

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Do you have the details? Yes, I've heard of their shenanigans in reverse. Fortunately, I suspect I will not be spending much time in marinas.
Asking 9’900 euros…..on mill anuncios veleros en venta en Coruña…..cannot post add as Got told off for advertising,no relation……I had one back in the Uk
 

RupertW

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The budget for fitting it out for an ocean crossing seems tight. Even if you stay off the grid with no forecasts via Iridium or Starlink then a basic set of sails ( fine if old if in good condition) plus all the spares to be self sufficient plus self steering will add up fast

Again I’m assuming it’s a basic life with no fridge or freezer or electric autohelm so no expenses there and aLeo no need for lots of solo.

15k for the costs of living seems very very low over a year, so is thst just for repairs and repairs and replacement of broken things as you go?
 

Tranona

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Good points! I'm aware VAT will need paying but am struggling to find out whether it would be calculated based on the price for which I bought the boat in Sweden, or based on the market value in the UK. The CE standard issue seems incredibly opaque and there hasn't been much news since 2021. I'd like to assume that it would apply largely for fairly recently built boats being imported and not a small cruiser from the 70s. If it proves too much of an issue I would consider keeping the boat in Sweden (very reasonable mooring fees).

Re visas I would apply online well in advance if I knew I was heading down that way.
It is not VAT that is the problem, but you cannot bring the boat into the UK as it will be considered an import and will have to meet current standards - which it won't. You are right, there is little first hand knowledge on how small old boats are treated, but the law as it currently stands specifically excludes the pre 1997 exemption that applied previously to boats built in the EEA. It may well be the lack of information is because few if any old boats have been imported as even without that barrier when you really look into it you will find it logistically difficult and uneconomic. Even then getting to Sweden to buy the boat, prepare it for the voyage to Wales the cost of getting the boat to UK plus the VAT (essentially 20%) of your purchase price in Sweden will make the total cost greater than buying a similar boat in UK. Not only that it will take you a whole summer to do it. Naive to think you can get a ready to go boat for pocket money that is capable of making the trip without further expenditure in one of the most expensive places in the world! They are "cheap" there because nobody wants them and it is uneconomic for anybody outside Sweden to buy them.

There are plenty of boats in the UK that will do the job, although even restricting yourself to sub £10k purchase price your overall budget is very tight. Also do not restrict yourself to the Vega type small boats. There are many boats from the next generation (late 70s and 80s) that are equally good if not better that can be found in better condition. Living costs while sailing are low but rocket when you stop and particularly if you have to carry out any significant repairs and replacements. If you are based in the UK it makes sense to buy a boat here and start from here. Do not underestimate the time it takes to find and buy a suitable boat as although there are lots of possibilities hanging around they tend to be all over the place, and most will be nothing like you imagine from the ads (this applies in Sweden as well as here) so you waste a lot of time travelling and rejecting boats. Even with a good boat as a starting point you will find you need several months to get it prepared and best to have it close to where you are to reduce travelling time. Buying in the spring and setting off in September is very ambitious. More realistic is buying in the autumn, spending the winter preparing, summer local sailing then start going south in August. Starting now, spend the next few months looking at boats to get an idea of what your money can buy. You might be lucky and find one before next spring but realistically you may well find you don't get the right one until well into next year making a 2025 start more likely.
 

GHA

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a few thoughts...
Certainly very do-able, plenty out there doing just that on a very small budget. Means anchoring only, no alcohol saves loads if you can manage that. Wait for the wind & sail. Most of this year I've been averaging under €500 a month for everything, though boat is pretty sorted so just some paint n diesel n bits on top of day to day & anchoring everywhere. Hardly used any diesel. Local sim for internet access pretty cheap most places, dual sim waterproof phone very useful.

Personally I'd be looking for a boat already pretty seaworthy & get south as quick as possible, do the rest along the way in the sun. Which would mean something with decent rigging, decent sails & a good anchor. Depth sounder all you really need for electronics - high proportion of cruisers use tablet & navionics these days though little bit of paper like reeds almanac would be sensible, windvane VERY important solo. Some solar & make a decision if lithium batteries are worth to outlay or just accept you'll trash lead acid pretty quickly. Anchor windlass would be great but not vital. Vega would definitely be on the list, my first boat was a Vega ❤, or maybe Contessa 26, whatever turns up & looks about right really. And a load of tools, decent cordless drill will see a lot of use, & some way to charge it off solar. Engine tricky one, that size & price there is a fairly strong argument for outboard hanging off the back to get in & out of harbours, bust engines very common with cruisers, means petrol onboard though.. all a compromise.

Then just get south across Biscay quick as poss , have fun in the Rias then to the algarve for the winter, up the guadiana & carry on refitting & having fun.
Masses online crowdsourced nav info these days, like Track your boat and share information on places to visit , Noonsite.com - The Ultimate Cruisers Planning Tool & navily , cruising guides are nice to have but really not vital these days.
Pressure cooker extremely useful.
And.... don't pay too much attention to any plans you've made, it will all be very different in moments 😊 , plans are more wishful stories made up about how things might turn out.
Biggest unknown is you! You might just absolutely love it or maybe not... Only one way to find out 😂

imho of course .. 😊
 
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prestomg27

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You can get cheap project boats in the uk. There is a rival 32 on apolloduck for 7.5k and i'm sure they would take much lower offers just to stop the storage costs.

Bear in mind any old boat you are thinking of an ocean passage in is going to need new standing and running rigging, probably sails, definately engine or engine rebuild, wind steering, solar, new instruments. Look at sailing brothers and sam holmes sailing on youtube who did it incredibly cost effectively but did huge upgrades and maintenance to their boats.

If i were you i would get a project boat here, carry on working to fund it's renovation, get some sort of remote IT job that you can do while anywhere and set off. A lot of these sailing youtubers have jobs like UX design etc.
 

Kelpie

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Get a boat in the UK.
Consider something a little bigger than a Vega. It's not just about living space, it's the stowage, speed on passage, carrying enough solar, tender etc
Allow yourself enough time to source bits like the windvane secondhand.
Get the bones of the boat right- rig, rudder, through hulls.
For electronics, use phones (have a backup!) for navigation. Garmin inreach for offshore communication, £200 to buy and £65/month for unlimited texts. That's all we had, and we only paid for one month's subscription while we did the crossing, then cancelled.

I don't think your budget is unreasonable. We sailed away having spent £40k, on a 39ft boat. Two and a half years in and we're enjoying the Caribbean, although this summer was too hot for comfort.

You could probably park up in the mangroves somewhere for nowt, but don't leave anything valuable aboard. Expect the boat to be a mess when you return.

Final point- don't let anybody put you off. People do this trip in all sorts of boats and on all sorts of budgets.
 

dunedin

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You can get cheap project boats in the uk. There is a rival 32 on apolloduck for 7.5k and i'm sure they would take much lower offers just to stop the storage costs.

Bear in mind any old boat you are thinking of an ocean passage in is going to need new standing and running rigging, probably sails, definately engine or engine rebuild, wind steering, solar, new instruments. Look at sailing brothers and sam holmes sailing on youtube who did it incredibly cost effectively but did huge upgrades and maintenance to their boats.

If i were you i would get a project boat here, carry on working to fund it's renovation, get some sort of remote IT job that you can do while anywhere and set off. A lot of these sailing youtubers have jobs like UX design etc.
I think all the advice on here is to firmly AVOID project boats, as never end up cheap, and can waste life working on boats instead of casting off and going sailing.
Search and can find seaworthy boats for moderate costs that can be sailed immediately. Then upgrade only where necessary for specific voyage.
 

GHA

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Another good read:
Amazon.co.uk

(I think he's a little bit hair shirt, but the basics are good)
A kindle sailing book i don't already own!!! 😂
This popped up in the reviews which rings so true " It talks about mental resiliency .." over the years it seems that tenacity is actually more important than skill or knowledge on a cruising boat ( cos fixing them is a constant occupation)
you just stick at it with what you've got til it works again. Been like that for nearly 20 years on my boat anyway. Handling the doom and gloom emotion response to yet more stuff not working comes with the territory. Every other time it's got sorted so ignore the emotions & keep at it til it works again. Reckon most of the hard core long term world girdlers I know have boats which get simpler over the years. At least are still ocean crossing seaworthy even with most of the toys not working. Pretty depressing stuck in a dirty harbour for weeks trying every office or shack every day hoping the spare part on an overnight delivery might turn up 🙄
 

GHA

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What you need is "Voyaging on a Small Income" by Annie Hill.

And I can supply you with a copy for the trifling sum of £10 plus postage ;)
disagree I'm afraid, just has it out along with brasil and beyond (Carib looks like a car park these days on google sat, not very inviting)
Like the book but fatty is far in front for what happens day to day. 😎
 
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