The minimalist sailor’s philosophy is a simple one.
1. Only have on board, what you are able to take 100% responsibility for.
Your basic responsibilities as a minimalist sailor are as a rigger, and you must be able to repair your own sails. A thorough understanding of your rig and sails are mandatory, and once you understand them you will be amazed how simple they are.
A $10 hand awl (or stitching awl) will provide you the means to make nearly any sail repair, and a few tools (marlin spike & rigger’s knife) accompanied with knowledge and skill will transform the mystery and complexity of your rig into simple understanding and maintenance.
A basic understanding of diesel and outboard engines is a prerequisite for any sailor with such mechanical propulsion. I’m a big fan of rowing a dinghy. Personally I believe the health and financial benefits of rowing far outweigh the expense, weight, and time involved for maintenance of an outboard motor.
That being said I do enjoy the added luxury of my ships diesel engine and choose the expense and time necessary to maintain it myself.
And knowledge of your ship’s hull construction is a must. If you have a wooden boat you must be prepared to repair it yourself (carpentry skills), as is the case with steel and aluminum (welding skills), or fiberglass boats (fiberglass repair). These basic skills are imperative for anyone wishing to voyage past the comfort and security of their slip. The same philosophy must be applied to plumbing and electrical systems.
If you dream of sailing off into the sunset for good you have come to the right place. Your journey of unplugging will require some educational time before you ever even buy a boat. But if you want to you can start that journey right now. Luckily you will find that education and inspiration here and you can start your journey today.
So at this point you think a minimalist sailor is one who sails a boat with no luxuries like refrigeration or water makers? Although this way of life is simple and quite rewarding, it is not necessary. Once educated in the ways of The Minimalist Sailor you will find your own balance of minimalism & luxury.
I sailed more than half way around the world without refrigeration and took great joy in fishing, drying fish fruit and vegetables, home canning meats, keeping cheeses submerged in oil, making wine, and salting butter. Now that I choose to have refrigeration I have the skills to flourish without it when it breaks, not to mention the skills and tools to repair it when it does. This philosophy will give you total control over your lifestyle as a minimalist sailor.
The minimalist sailor should start his journey with only the basics and grow as he travels. The power of this idea is that you can go cruising very soon, with very little money, and on a very simple and affordable boat. Once you’re cruising as a minimalist sailor you will also be able to make more informed decisions as to the technologies you really want to have on board.
If at some point you choose luxuries like refrigeration or water makers, understand them thoroughly. If you know refrigeration, build your own system, and have the tools and knowledge to repair it, you will also be able to repair the systems of others providing yourself with an income. The same philosophy can be applied to mechanical, electrical, rigging, carpentry, fiberglass, welding, and sail repair skills. If you have these skills you will never have to look for work as you travel internationally, the work will find you.
2. Find joy in only what you need.
In today’s world we feel we “need” too many unimportant things. Most people work very hard for ipods, ipads, smart phones, x-boxes, insurance, AIS, air-conditioning, fuel, cars, cheap Chinese gadgetry, and lots more automatic & digital things that have absolutely no impact on the quality of our lives as minimalist sailors, peace, joy, or the pursuit of Love and happyness.
Occupy your free time by learning basic skills or playing an instrument. I’m sure you can find a local night class on welding, carpentry, or diesel repair. Read actual books rater than distracting yourself with television. If you can find the strength to do this I promise you will find the key (time) to unlock your dream of living upon the sea and traveling the world as a free man by the power of wind and oar.
I don’t stress the small-stuff (money) because I don’t have a single bill or financial responsibility. I know that if I’m hungry I can easily grab a lobster or spear a fish from the reef in a few minutes. This is freedom, and the skills I wish to share with you.
If you can find joy in only what you need, nature will reward you with the freedom you seek.
Sail far and live slowly.
– alex dorsey