Apologize for lack of posts, but we have been a little distracted with a sailing vacation, a completion of another step toward our plans of early retirement and extended cruising aboard a sailboat. I am also moving into a much busier time at work when I need to travel considerably more than the last few months. I am writing this post from my hotel room overlooking the city of Osaka, Japan, sipping a cold Asahi beer purchased in the hotel vending machines (God, I love Japan). A few years ago, we called Osaka, or more precisely Kobe, home. If you have never visited Japan, I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list. In a time when the world is becoming a smaller place and there are fewer distinctions between any city in the world, Japan offers a truly unique experience.
Rewind a couple weeks to late March, and we were in Thailand aboard a 40 foot sailboat exploring the incredibly beautiful Phang-Nga bay and upper Straight of Malacca. If you recall from a previous post, we first visited here last December and chartered a sailboat for a week with an instructor. During that time we combined a family sailing vacation with the training necessary to complete the American Sailing Association’s Coastal Cruising (ASA103) and Bareboat Chartering (ASA104) certifications. This trip, we took the next step and chartered a “Bareboat” with Mrs. Zero and Yours Truly as Skipper 1 and Skipper 2 for every aspect of our 8 day cruise.
Being completely responsible for the boat, the safety of my family, including my recently retired mom who was able to join us, certainly added a different flavor to the experience, but overall it only served to solidify our desire to cruise full time. In total, we covered approximately 250 nautical miles exploring as far south as the border of Malaysia and north into the upper reaches of Phang-Nga Bay.
Phang-Nga Bay Thailand
Phang-Nga bay is truly a magical place. The excellent weather, absolutely jaw dropping scenery and warm waters only accentuate the feeling of peace and happiness that the friendly and diverse people of Thailand create. Hundreds of small islands dot Phang-Nga Bay with sheer faced cliffs, caves, and white sand beaches. Many of the islands extend hundreds of meters above the water, while others are just barely above sea level. In the southern reaches of the bay, coral reefs and clear waters provide home to diverse sea life. In short, it’s a paradise by just about anyone’s definition.
The islands started life underwater 130 million years ago as part of the largest coral reef in the world. The reef stretched from the Malay border all the way to the North of Vietnam. The reef grew, died and built upon itself eventually leaving behind a layer of calcite and calcium carbonate hundreds of meters thick. Around 75 million years ago, this layer of limestone was pushed upward by the collision of tectonic plates. Over time, wind, rain and sea eroded the limestone leaving behind one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Jeez – Yachting must be expensive
Actually, a trip like the one we just completed isn’t more expensive a typical resort vacation. We spent roughly $250 USD per night for the boat. Fuel and other incidentals were around $150. We selected our provisions from an extensive list the charter company provided and ate aboard 4 out of the 7 nights. Provisions (not including beer) ran $500 for the week. Our three meals on shore averaged $60 per night for 6 people. Flights from our home in Asia were $500 per person. Total trip cost for 6 people was less than $6000, or $1000 per person. Thankfully, my company provides a very generous annual travel budget, so total cost to the Zeroes was, well, Zero… heeheheh.. bawahhhh!! (Evil laugh).
Why are we so into this sailing thing?
Everyone’s motivations for pursuing financial independence are different. There are many that simply dream of being able to live life free of work, enjoying the environs of wherever they live. Others want to spend more time with their kids or exploring other interests. Mrs. Zero and I dream of living aboard a sailboat, sailing, exploring and adventuring.
I think the reason we feel so drawn to this sort of life is the simplicity, independence and adventure that it provides. If I had to pinpoint a time when I knew Mrs. Zero was the gal for me, it was on a camping trip to the North Carolina mountains where we battled the elements, but had the time of our lives. We don’t mind being uncomfortable. Pushing ourselves into the unknown, relying on our skills and persistence brings both of us a sense of accomplishment that cannot be duplicated living in the burbs.