Voyaging on a Small Income

Voyaging on a Small Income

by Annie Hill

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Maintaining that there is little preventing one from cruising the world by boat, this book provides practical ideas for turning one's dreams of life at sea into reality, with suggestions for preplanning and simplifying one's life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781888671667
Publisher: Tiller Publishing
Publication date: 10/01/2001
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 672,578
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Annie Hill has, since 1975, cruised and lived on a number of unusual sailing craft and has now sailed over 125,000 miles, crossing the Atlantic 16 times and visiting a variety of countries from the Arctic to the Antarctic. She continues voyaging on a small income.

Read an Excerpt

Voyaging on a Small Income

By Annie Hill, John Blackburn, Pete Hill

Tiller Publishing

Copyright © 2001 Tiller Publishing
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-888671-66-7


The £200 Millionaire

In 1934, Weston Martyr wrote a book of short stories. The first story and the one that gave its name to the book was The £200 Millionaire. This wonderful little story, only 24 pages long, was about a meeting between a couple on a sailing holiday in Holland, and an elderly gentleman. The old chap was sailing his little sloop around the length and breadth of Europe on £200 a year, and even in those far-off times, that was not a princely sum. He told the couple of his experiences and adventures, and of the pleasure he derived from his simple way of life; his conversation was an inspiration to them. The story itself subsequently inspired many other people, not the least of whom were Peter and Anne Pye. In just 24 pages, Weston Martyr managed to conjure up a man's personality and his whole way of life. Times change, however, and reading the story today, people may well believe that it is the sort of life that could have been led 50 years ago, but is no longer possible. (See Appendix VIII.)

In writing this book, I am hoping to be able to show that the £200 Millionaire's way of life is still possible. Admittedly, the figure of £200 has increased, but the main point of the story, the fact that it is quite simple to live a civilized and pleasurable life on a very small income, is as valid now as it was then. In this book, I am hoping to help sailing people who, inspired by such an idea, find that they too want to undertake extended cruises on a limited budget. In it, I have attempted to compile all the information that I wished I had when I first started voyaging in 1975, green as grass and as ignorant of both life and sailing as it was possible to be.

Anyone reading this book will, I trust, come across ideas that they haven't thought of before and find ways of doing things more cheaply than has previously been the case. However, the book as a whole represents a philosophy of life, developed by Pete and myself during the years that we have lived and sailed together. Many of the ideas are interdependent because they are part of a whole, but most can be adopted by themselves to suit the needs and desires of the individual. I don't pretend that they will work for everyone or that everybody could live as happily as we do by this philosophy. What I can say is that the whole book is written from hard-won experience and that the ideas work.

The title of this book was chosen with a great deal of care, because I wanted to put over, in the minimum of words, what it is that I am trying to write about.

According to Alan Villiers, a voyage is a "setting-out from a home port and an eventual return, with all lesser goings and comings in between reckoned as passages, each part of the whole." I feel that this is an excellent definition, and even if you don't really have a home port, there is usually a place from which the voyage started and to which one will eventually return, or a place where the planning took place and the shape of the voyage grew up. Voyaging therefore, is about sailing as a continuing way of life, not something done between long periods at anchor doing other things. Circumstances force the most determined of us to stay somewhere for weeks, months or even years, but to voyagers this is an unfortunate event preventing us from enjoying our true vocation — that of travelling over the world's seas.

The Oxford dictionary defines income as "periodical (usually total annual) receipts from one's business, lands, work, investments, etc.". This book is about voyaging on an income rather than on capital simply because the need to replenish capital interferes with voyaging, unless that is, you can do something to earn money whilst you are actually underway. As well, a large part of our philosophy is that one's energies should be devoted to the way in which one is voyaging rather than the means whereby one goes voyaging.

As for "Small," well, each person has a different definition of what constitutes a "small income." For the sake of the record, until 1995, the income on which we lived was £1,300 per annum. In fact, we initially had about £300 per annum extra, but this was reinvested against inflation and didn't really count. By 1995, the money we had reinvested was bringing us in an extra £1,000 per annum, so we awarded ourselves a £10 per week pay rise, bringing our income up to £1,850 per annum. My writing has been bringing us in more since then, but we tend to regard this more as a windfall — it might end any day — and we invest this money, too. Indeed, we are finding that £35 is generous and live, we feel, a pretty luxurious lifestyle these days.

The whole of the title was inspired by Maurice Griffiths who wrote Yachting on a Small Income just before the Second World War, because I hope to encourage people to appreciate the more simple and wholesome type of boats and cruising such as Maurice Griffiths designed and about which he has written so wonderfully.

Perhaps the most important part of our philosophy is that we choose to voyage on a small income rather than doing it out of necessity. We actually enjoy living on a small amount of money and have no real desire to have any more. Quite often, we talk to people about going off cruising and they will say, "If I couldn't go out for meals or have a drink in a bar, I'd rather not bother, thank you very much." Your first reaction might be to agree with them, but when you analyse the statement it is quite ludicrous. Are you seriously saying that you would rather carry on working than sacrifice the odd meal out and visits to bars? Are these things so important that you would trade them for the pleasure of living your own life on your own yacht, travelling to different places, doing things in your own time and having the time to appreciate the beauty of the world? If you feel that you can't do without any of your 'comforts', perhaps indeed you prefer the dream to the reality. So many of the things that people regard as necessities are luxuries unheard of 50 years ago. Many of them are in fact, society's compensations for sending you out to work. When you are in charge of your own life, with the freedom to live as you wish, you don't need these compensations.

It is a worthwhile undertaking to read the classic voyaging books. Harry Pidgeon, Frank Wightman, Edward Allcard, Peter and Anne Pye, Annie van der Wiele, Erling Tambs and many others sailed modest and simple boats on splendid voyages and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Who, reading Eric Hiscock's books, has not felt that with the advent of the large Wanderer IV into their lives, the Hiscocks lost a lot of their pleasure in sailing? We live in a consumer society; in order for it to function correctly, new objects have to be made and a demand has to be created for them. It is an interesting exercise to examine earlier voyages and to try analysing which of the many gadgets now available, would truly have been of assistance during them and improved the pleasure and satisfaction that they gave.

Economists talk a lot about cost-benefit-analysis, the system whereby the cost of an item is set against the benefits derived from its possession in order to ascertain its worth. There are all sorts of systems available now, which are supposed to enable us to sail across the oceans of the world, with a pinpoint knowledge of where we are, and which require very little input, effort or even knowledge from the user. However, in over 100,000 miles of voyaging, we have never been in a situation where we have been seriously concerned about making a landfall due to lack of a good sight or real uncertainty as to our position. As well, a global positioning system (GPS) and its associated aids depend on electricity and sophisticated components. With an input of effort and money the former can be more or less sorted out, but there is no way that the average voyager could dismantle the black box for running repairs, should it go wrong. If it does go wrong, and every prudent sailor must assume that this may well happen, you will need a sextant and the appropriate tables anyway, and as everyone knows, familiarity and practice with a sextant are a large part of getting accurate fixes. Therefore, it is necessary to keep in practice in case the GPS goes wrong. Of course, particularly with GPS, which is becoming so cheap that they will soon be giving sets away free with cornflakes, it is possible to carry one, or two, or three spares, but this still won't help you if Uncle Sam decides to switch off the satellites, or if they run into a meteor shower. And if you start combining it with electronic charts, etc., you really do leave yourself in a very vulnerable position should things break down and when this does eventually happen, you then have to instigate a series of complicated manoeuvres to post it to be repaired, pay for the cost of the repair, have it posted back, and then try and get it through Customs without having to pay an onerous amount of duty. All this costs money, takes time and trouble and even now, a GPS is not really so cheap as to be considered disposable.

So, why do we have these things on board? If we are concerned about a landfall, can we not heave-to until we can get a sight? In certain places, we may well be very worried about our position, but surely these concerns are part of the challenge of voyaging. As well, we should also take into account the satisfaction of finding our way upon the face of the oceans by our own efforts and this must be weighed against having to rely upon lots of other people having done their jobs correctly. Ask anyone who has sailed, using traditional methods, what they think about having GPS instead. When they have finished extolling its many virtues, almost everyone will sigh regretfully and add: "But one thing I have noticed — I don't get the same thrill from making landfall that I used to." Believe me, there is nothing quite like that feeling of seeing a new land appear over the horizon almost as though you've conjured it up yourself.

Having considered all the evidence pro and con of buying a piece of equipment for the yacht that you are going to take voyaging on a small income, then the decision can be made. Self-steering makes sense — it allows time for so many things and permits a crew of two to get sufficient sleep; man-made fibre rope and sails make sense — they last longer; modern sealants make sense — they keep the boat dry and your possessions and the boat herself are the better for it. We believe in using cost-benefit-analysis all the time and in all sorts of circumstances from the purchase of a Mars bar to that of an echo-sounder.

I believe that one of the great pleasures that we derive from voyaging is that of independence and we have found that the best guarantee of that independence comes from simplicity. Take the yacht herself. If she is a sophisticated boat, with electronics, generators and high tech equipment, your independence will be reduced in relation to the amount of this equipment you can look after by yourself; if you need specialist help then you have to sail to a place where such help is available, which interferes with your freedom of choice. Indeed, essential maintenance in itself controls your actions. The less the necessary maintenance, the freer you are. Financially, you may be a lot better off by playing the money market than by committing yourself to one safe form of investment. However, life will become complicated by the necessity of keeping in touch with what is going on and the need to contact your broker. You'll probably need some sort of communications system and then what has happened to the peace and tranquillity of a long ocean crossing? In short, the fewer things there are to go wrong, the less there is to worry about and the more time you have for sailing. Moreover, if there's nothing to go wrong in the first place, then you won't need to spend anything on putting it right.

Living on a small income is immensely pleasurable. Because it demands many 'sacrifices', the rewards are consequently greater — when you have worked out just how little is necessary, you then realise that everything else is actually a luxury. Because of cost-benefit-analysis, you have a high-quality vessel on which to sail — by buying the best you can afford you are saving on maintenance or replacement costs in the future. Because your boat is simple you enjoy her. Because you sail as independently as possible, you get increased satisfaction.

With boats, small is beautiful. "The smaller the boat, the greater the fun", runs the old saying, and there is a lot in this. Why have a big boat? In bad weather there are very few boats that could truly be described as comfortable and in the light winds which are prevalent in so many places, a smaller boat will generally sail so much better. A large vessel will cost much more in the first place, and think of all that time spent working to earn this money, when you could have been sailing. A big boat will be more expensive to run and take much more work to keep smart; smaller boats will be off voyaging while you find somewhere to haul out your leviathan and spend a week putting antifouling on its enormous bottom.

If you voyage on a small income, you will rarely feel out of place in the countries you visit — even poor ones. You will not feel a spoilt child of a wealthy nation; you won't be buying gimcrack toys to stave off boredom as you try to spend more money than you will ever need. Instead, you will also be stretching what you have as far as it will go. You'll enjoy doing it, too. I hope to convince you that voyaging on a small income makes sense: it is easy, satisfying, efficient and above all, it's a joyful way of life.


It's All Right for You Two, But ...

When I met Pete, I was 18 and he was 23. I, straight from school, was working and studying to qualify, in the fullness of time, as a valuation surveyor — the same occupation as my father. My mother was a teacher. Pete was doing temporary work in the same office — he had spent a year at University, been in the Royal Navy as an Officer Cadet for a couple of years and had recently completed an HND in Computer Studies, with the intention of becoming a computer programmer. What he really wanted to do was to go sailing. His father was an Engineer for British Leyland and his mother a Civil Servant. Pete's grandfather and great-grandfather had been seafaring men and only colourblindness had prevented his father from following the family tradition; so, for what it's worth, you could say that sailing is in his blood.

Even at this stage, Pete's interest lay in simple cruising, having been inspired from boyhood by such great writers as Joshua Slocum, Bernard Moitessier, James Wharram, Harry Pidgeon, Peter Pye and, perhaps more than any, by Peter Tangvald, and as such, I suppose, his case was pretty hopeless. However, young and innocent in the ways of the world I knew nothing of this. At the time I met Pete, he had nearly completed Stormalong, a 28-foot, Wharram catamaran, but had run out of money — hence the temporary work. His plan had been to complete her and sail off to the West Indies — he hadn't planned on meeting me. He persuaded me against my better judgement that I would enjoy sailing, and inveigled me into painting and varnishing and helping him complete his boat, while I tried to keep my nail varnish intact. Eventually Stormalong was launched and we went sailing. Pete, with typical gallantry, lent me some cast-off oilskins, with a distinct lack of buttons, and snuggled down in his new Henri-Lloyds, no doubt thinking they wouldn't fit me any better than the others — even if they did fasten up. Such is the strength of teenage infatuation that I went back for more.

Pete had done a fair bit of dinghy sailing at school and had experience in larger yachts in the Royal Navy, including being 'lost' during one race (as usual, the crew were the last to realise that they were meant to be lost). His most important experience, however, had been in 1972 when he helped another chap, David Gaffyne, deliver Aloha VII from Newport, RI, to Alicante, after that year's Singlehanded Transatlantic Race. At Alicante, David had to return home and Pete took the boat back to France by himself. His enjoyment of this passage was such that he came back to Stormalong with renewed enthusiasm.


Excerpted from Voyaging on a Small Income by Annie Hill, John Blackburn, Pete Hill. Copyright © 2001 Tiller Publishing. Excerpted by permission of Tiller Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Foreword by Tom Cunliffe,
Chapter 1 The £200 Millionaire,
Chapter 2 It's All Right for You Two, But ...,
Chapter 3 Moderation in All Things,
Chapter 4 One Pauper's Luxury Yacht,
Chapter 5 The Wind Isn't Always Free,
Chapter 6 Shipshape,
Chapter 7 Fools Rush In,
Chapter 8 The Heart of the Boat,
Chapter 9 They Bored a Hole Within the Hull,
Chapter 10 Waterworks,
Chapter 11 A Place for Everything,
Chapter 12 How to Eat Like a King When You Haven't Got a Bean,
Chapter 13 The Inner Man,
Chapter 14 The Outer Man,
Chapter 15 A Load of Hot Air,
Chapter 16 The Work Horse,
Chapter 17 You Can't Have Too Many Anchors,
Chapter 18 More Trouble Than It's Worth?,
Chapter 19 The Iron Tops'l,
Chapter 20 Finding Your Way,
Chapter 21 A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned,
Chapter 22 Peace of Mind,
Chapter 23 Self Security,
Chapter 24 Landfall,
Appendix I Preparing and Storing Food for a Voyage,
Appendix II Preparing and Storing Fruit for a Voyage,
Appendix III Preparing and Storing Vegetables for a Voyage,
Appendix IV Badger,
Appendix V Wylo II,
Appendix VI Sources,
Appendix VII Glossary,
Appendix VIII The £200 Millionaire by Weston Martyr,

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Voyaging on a Small Income 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
bruce_krafft on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The author has a philosophy of living very different from that probably the majority of the people not living in a 3rd world country. I can¿t decide if living in/on a boat with no liability insurance is inspirational, crazy or irresponsible. I would be worried every time we even came close to another boat. And yes I understand that many insurance policies have rules that actually can (and probably will) make you sail your boat when you feel that you shouldn¿t. That said I did enjoy this book, Annie and her (now former) husband decided that they wanted to live and voyage the world in a boat, 34 foot double-ended dory with a two-masted junk rig of the schooner style that they built themselves. Then they did what they had to do to attain that dream. Few people have the determination to do what they did. We seem to be addicted to our iPods, wi-fi , cable TV and Starbucks (ok they started before any of these things were available but you get the idea). She gives reasons for the layout of the boat and why it worked for them. She talks about some of the mistakes that they made, how they plan their food buying, how things are stored, why they chose the type of sails they did. They lived on a boat for over 20 years with very little income so she knows her subject well. This is probably the closest to how I would like to live if/when we decide to buy a boat, very simple. Except I am not giving up my computer or iPod, and I most certainly would want some kind of electronic book reader, one has to make sacrifices for small spaces after all, and I am not giving up books even if I don¿t have room to keep paper ones. DS