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SailNDive

Ideas for budget cruising with kids

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We're expecting our first in September and planning our next big sailing getaway for a few years from now so we're already starting our planning.  I have a few suggestions for budget cruising based on our last year-long cruise through the Caribbean and Bahamas but these were from when we traveled with no children. What suggestions can all of you offer on ideas to cruise on a budget with kid(s). 

A few of our budget cruising tips from our last big cruising trip:

  • Collect rainwater for washing/rinsing
  • Have a hand clothes washer on board to avoid on-island laundry fees
  • Anchor, don't dock
  • Have a backup GPS system (we used Navionics on our phones and tablets) so you don't have to spend a ton of money on a random expensive island
  • Have a backup sail on-board to avoid expensive repair costs on-island
  • Have a backup of most parts to avoid expensive parts on-island
  • Have a variety of tools on-board to avoid expensive tools on-island 
  • Fish/spearfish/conch/etc to save a ton of money on food

 

What other ideas do you have? What child-friendly ideas do you have that I may not think of since we haven't sailed with children yet? 

Thanks!

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2 minutes ago, SailNDive said:
  • Have a backup GPS system (we used Navionics on our phones and tablets) so you don't have to spend a ton of money on a random expensive island

Have paper charts on board and know how to use them.

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Know how to maintain and repair every single thing on your boat. 

If you don't know how to maintain and repair it, learn to do without it (essential safety gear excepted).  

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Diapers. You're going to be in diapers. Make a decision - washing or disposable(lots of storage - before and after). We took a short Bahama cruise (3-4months), with our kids - then about 2 and 3. 

We had to cut a sail up the stream short, and run into Charleston SC. We ran out of disposable diapers (I'll never forget that,..)

But come to think of it, babies cut your costs. You're not going to want to go to restaurants with babies (trust me!). Their needs are cheap and minimal. Even before they're walking, a babies favorite place in the world, is a beach with his/her parents. Second favorite place is to be sailing. Babies love sailing. 

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Second the diapers thing! And trash bags.

Fruit sling. No joke, our oldest went sailing at 8 weeks; we were on a crewed charter that time (otherwise I may have been murdered); they had a fruit hammock over the galley, emptied it, set a blanket and our daughter into it. Instant peace, and the galley gal was an angel too. Best of all, my wife simply relaxed between feedings and did the "om" thing, and reemerged as a rested human.

Daughter's 24 now, and still passes out immediately on a sail, with a smile. Her sister at 21 still likes hanging onto the tramp in enthusiastic seas and screeching for joy. Win-win. Lose-lose for us as we're empty nesters now.

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There are loads of free things to do in the carib. with kids.

 

Try the cruisers nets on the VHF on the islands that have them.

 

There always seemed to be some activity being organised.

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On 7/13/2017 at 0:52 PM, SloopJonB said:

Have paper charts on board and know how to use them.

Got to disagree with this one if you are trying to save money. When we crossed the Pacific we had 125 charts that we had bought as a package (the reproduction ones) and they were still very expensive. These were to be backups for our plotter and charts on iPad and Open CPN charts on a laptop. Looked at one paper chart (for Pitcairn) and it was basically useless. From Oz onward we did not have paper charts, other than those in various cruising guides, which were most helpful. If you are doing a long cruise charts can get very, very expensive. I wonder if you could cut up charts to use as diapers as you leave an area. Guess they are not very absorbent.

Speaking of diapers and seeing twin granddaughters in action I can't imagine being able to carry enough disposables, and being to get rid of them in an appropriate way, to use disposables.

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3 hours ago, Bristol-Cruiser said:

Got to disagree with this one if you are trying to save money. When we crossed the Pacific we had 125 charts that we had bought as a package (the reproduction ones) and they were still very expensive. These were to be backups for our plotter and charts on iPad and Open CPN charts on a laptop. Looked at one paper chart (for Pitcairn) and it was basically useless. From Oz onward we did not have paper charts, other than those in various cruising guides, which were most helpful. If you are doing a long cruise charts can get very, very expensive. I wonder if you could cut up charts to use as diapers as you leave an area. Guess they are not very absorbent.

Speaking of diapers and seeing twin granddaughters in action I can't imagine being able to carry enough disposables, and being to get rid of them in an appropriate way, to use disposables.

Gotta disagree with your disagreement... On our trip to the Caribbean I had our chartplotter eat it.  Backup was the ipad, which while it worked fine is not entirely water resistant even in a case.  Peace of mind was our paper charts and two back-up-to-the-back-up old Garmin GPSs to give lat lon if needed.  They weren't, but still...

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I'd rather trust my family to paper than electronics. I absolutely love GPS plotters - the greatest invention since the compass but it's still an electrical device in a salt water environment.

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8 hours ago, monsoon said:
11 hours ago, Bristol-Cruiser said:

Got to disagree with this one if you are trying to save money. When we crossed the Pacific we had 125 charts that we had bought as a package (the reproduction ones) and they were still very expensive. These were to be backups for our plotter and charts on iPad and Open CPN charts on a laptop. Looked at one paper chart (for Pitcairn) and it was basically useless. From Oz onward we did not have paper charts, other than those in various cruising guides, which were most helpful. If you are doing a long cruise charts can get very, very expensive. I wonder if you could cut up charts to use as diapers as you leave an area. Guess they are not very absorbent.

Speaking of diapers and seeing twin granddaughters in action I can't imagine being able to carry enough disposables, and being to get rid of them in an appropriate way, to use disposables.

Gotta disagree with your disagreement... On our trip to the Caribbean I had our chartplotter eat it.  Backup was the ipad, which while it worked fine is not entirely water resistant even in a case.  Peace of mind was our paper charts and two back-up-to-the-back-up old Garmin GPSs to give lat lon if needed.  They weren't, but still...

 

7 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

I'd rather trust my family to paper than electronics. I absolutely love GPS plotters - the greatest invention since the compass but it's still an electrical device in a salt water environment.

In five years of full time cruising I can count on one hand the number of times I've deferred to paper charts and still have a few fingers left.

We bought chart kits for the Caribbean, the cheapest way to do it. They were...so-so...in quality compared to the charts on the Furuno MFD's and in MaxSea. We quickly stopped bothering with them since the detail was equal or better on the Mapmedia charts.

Paper charts out in the world are INSANELY expensive compared to charts in the U.S., which of course you can get electronically for free. When we were looking to leave Panama we wanted to get paper charts of the Pacific as a fall back. We finally had to go to a chart broker, and order several charts that covered, at best, the gross areas of the ocean we were covering. At $70/chart, we weren't about to get detailed coverage of every possible harbor or callout between Panama and New Zealand. Not a chance. Our paper strategy - barring spending thousands and thousands on paper charts - was to have paper coverage good enough to plot a course to sight of land.

Charts in Fiji...don't even get me started. We found the best navigation tools to be GPS tracks from other boats that had already picked their ways through the "thar be monsters" spots on our Vector charts. One can buy individual charts of Fiji in some places. $30-$40 a piece...there are 300+ islands in Fiji, so you need to know where you are going.

I recently bought a paper chart here in Australia. A detailed chart of the Gold Coast Seaway, since depths are tight, anchorages are few and restricted, and the coverage on my Mapmedia charts is a bit spotty with all the shoals. It was $35 AUD, for one chart. It covers one tiny area of detail on one tiny chunk of Australia's coast. Again - paper coverage for Australia...no one here sells a "Chart Kit" to cover 500 miles of coast for $135 like Maptech does in the states. It would literally cost hundreds to maybe thousands of dollars to get paper coverage from Cairns to Tasmania if you were planning to visit a lot of places.

 

That being said...I think relying on phones and tablets as your sole means of charting and plotting is also a crap means to go. At least plug a laptop into the boat with OpenCPN on it, get something down below out of the elements with a bigger screen. I think dedicated MFD's are going to go the way of the Dodo if marine manufacturers don't wise up soon and bring their prices down and start selling what are essentially jumped up ruggedized tablets, but I think relying completely on a $15 App running on a device that can be dropped and broken is not...wise. Penny wise, pound foolish.

If that is your plan, to not have a tough, reliable chart plotter, then a set of NV Chart Kits for the Caribbean areas would be a wise investment.

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Paper for me, with a plotter for reference. I started in New cal, and ended up in Maine. Traded chart sets of large photo copies, and originals, with cruisers going west as i went east.

I'm old school.

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Congrats!

I'm cruising with a three month old baby right now.  Just a summer vacation, not a year.

New concerns compared to a baby free similar cruise last year are: diapers, propane, shade and dinghy.

We're using cloth diapers and have 40 of them with us and do laundry every day or two. We're using a bucket and agitator and have a spin dryer (that thing is magic and doesn't use much power).  It's actually a lot easier than I thought it would be.

Propane and potentially running out is a bigger concern because we need hot water for baths and laundry.  I'd want two tanks if we were out here longer, just to have a full spare on hand.  I'm going to try the hot water trick today to measure how much we've got and how quickly we're going through it. 

Babies don't wear sunscreen at this age and keeping him secure and in the shade but outside so that we can both sail is tricky. A bimini would be nice. We have a sunshade for at the dock, but nothing while sailing. If he is in the cockpit it is normally in his car seat under the tiller with some sort of makeshift shade keeping him out of the sun.  

We haven't put the baby into the dinghy yet, a boat with an open or sugar scoop transom would make that a lot easier. Our's isn't and has a lot of freeboard. I'll report back when we've anchored out for a couple of nights.

Getting the baby to sleep isn't hard. He loves the boat and seems to sleep better here than at home.

I'm glad we have a 37 boat now instead of my old 28 footer, baby gear takes a lot of space. We have a car seat, infant bathtub, and stroller as the large items. Plus the new laundry equipment.

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Nav equipment is the least of our concerns, we have a plotter, three backups (cell phones and iPad), paper charts, cruising books, and I know these waters pretty well.

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59 minutes ago, Alex W said:

Congrats!

I'm cruising with a three month old baby right now.  Just a summer vacation, not a year.

New concerns compared to a baby free similar cruise last year are: diapers, propane, shade and dinghy.

We're using cloth diapers and have 40 of them with us and do laundry every day or two. We're using a bucket and agitator and have a spin dryer (that thing is magic and doesn't use much power).  It's actually a lot easier than I thought it would be.

Propane and potentially running out is a bigger concern because we need hot water for baths and laundry.  I'd want two tanks if we were out here longer, just to have a full spare on hand.  I'm going to try the hot water trick today to measure how much we've got and how quickly we're going through it. 

Babies don't wear sunscreen at this age and keeping him secure and in the shade but outside so that we can both sail is tricky. A bimini would be nice. We have a sunshade for at the dock, but nothing while sailing. If he is in the cockpit it is normally in his car seat under the tiller with some sort of makeshift shade keeping him out of the sun.  

We haven't put the baby into the dinghy yet, a boat with an open or sugar scoop transom would make that a lot easier. Our's isn't and has a lot of freeboard. I'll report back when we've anchored out for a couple of nights.

Getting the baby to sleep isn't hard. He loves the boat and seems to sleep better here than at home.

I'm glad we have a 37 boat now instead of my old 28 footer, baby gear takes a lot of space. We have a car seat, infant bathtub, and stroller as the large items. Plus the new laundry equipment.

 

Ugh. You have completely ruined my image of you.  I thought you were this swinging single with a shit-hot Express, with hot and cold running babes onboard (No bikinis though, I know where you sail!) Cognac, cigars, filming your own porno's!

Married? Babies onboard? A stroller?  I need to find a new idol. :lol:

 

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Ajax: well my fiance is an awesome sailor, we've both raced here for a while (her longer than me).  I think your idol should have a more modern hot boat, some sort of planing sport boat with a double berth made of sails and nothing else below.

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18 hours ago, Keith said:

Paper for me, with a plotter for reference. I started in New cal, and ended up in Maine. Traded chart sets of large photo copies, and originals, with cruisers going west as i went east.

I'm old school.

News of copy business that can (and are willing to) copy full size charts does travel through the cruising network. Not every copy shop will do it, even if they can. Of course some places (like Fiji...) pay a lot less mind to things like copyrights than others.

In Fiji they have storefront video shops all over the place that burn pirated torrents onto DVDs and sell them over the counter. Not a lot of worries getting stuff copied there.

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BJ if/when you get to St Helena, ask at the police station. They have decent internet (overnight downloads). There doesn't seem to be any modern copyright law there, so they torrented the latest Game of Thrones for us (ssshhh).

Otherwise it is the most expensive place in the world for internet access. About $10 US/1 hour of very very slow internet. Like click on an email and wait 5 minutes to open it.

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