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More and more retirees are foregoing rocking chairs for bosun’s chairs and sailing into the sunset.  Most people had to hustle and rush their whole lives – now it’s time to sit back and smell the roses… or the salty sea air, in this case. Picture spending a couple hours every morning enjoying breakfast at the stern of the ship. Sounds relaxing right? But it’s much more than just that.


The lifestyle of the retired sailor is not all relaxation. Sailing on long trips without all the comforts of home, mariners live a simple life laden with challenges of self-sufficiency on the water. With these challenges comes a sense of adventure coupled with immense freedom. Not to mention the unlimited supply of interesting people who share a common bond.


While some family members might be uneasy about Grandma and Grandpa sailing over the horizon, most kids are supportive of this new twist on the empty nest syndrome. To keep your family from over-worrying, you shouldn’t set sail solo unless you are trained and experienced.


Learning the Ropes

Even if you were an experienced sailor in your youth, it is a good idea to relearn the ropes. Also, sailing equipment and technology have advanced significantly in the last twenty years – you don’t want to get caught 20 miles from land and not understand the GPS device. If you live near the water, then chances are good that you can find a local adult sailing class. They are typically offered for beginner through advanced sailors and offer ASA Certifications. These classes have perfected curriculums that will deliver the skills and confidence to enjoy the sailing lifestyle.


Don’t be intimidated though, new sailors will often start out on twenty-two-foot boats with very small class sizes. Even after completing only a few courses, you will be able to charter small sailboats in a harbor to build your skills.


Connect with The Sailing Community

People in the sailing community are known for being welcoming but finding ways to meet new people can still be daunting. Here are some suggestions for connecting with your local sailing groups:

  • Join a sailing crew pool for the race season. Call your local yacht clubs to see if they offer crew pools. You do not need to be a yacht club member to participate so don’t be shy about reaching out to them.
  • If you are more advanced and are ready to join a sailing crew, find sailing crew opportunities on sites like CrewSeekers and Find-A-CrewCrew-BayOcean Crew Link.
  • Volunteer with sailing charities and non-for-profits. E.g. Youth tall ship programs like SALTS, disabled sailing associations, and the Blue Water Foundation. These groups introduce inner city youth to sailing to sailing experiences.
  • Join a sailing Facebook group or page like Women Who SailSailing and CruisingYoung & Salty, etc
  • If you are single and ready to mingle, go on a sailing date! Connect with other sailing singles on LoveSail, an online dating site for sailors!


Becoming the Captain of Your Own Ship

Once you’ve got your sea-legs, you may decide to become the captain of your own ship. Even if you have the money for a shiny new sailboat, buys a used boat will likely get you a lot more for your money.


Saunter down to any marina and the odds are a sailboat broker will have set up shop there. Browsing the ‘Sailboats for Sale’ photographs in his window may find you exactly what you’re looking for. With any luck it will be close by, so you can get to inspect it there and then. Even if there’s nothing that suits you, have a chat with the broker. He may well have something that he hasn’t yet got a photo of.


In any event you may pick up a few good tips on how to buy a sailboat.


Boat Financing

You’ve found the perfect boat that suits your ideal retirement lifestyle and now you have to figure out how to pay for it. There are several directions for financing your purchase; arrange financing through a boat dealer, get a bank loan, or get a loan from a lender specialized in marine financing.


Most people choose to go through a boat dealer because of their experience with setting up boat loans. Plus, it’s in the dealers’ interest to make sure the process is smooth, fast, and painless.

Getting a loan in your retirement years can be difficult though. Buyers in this situation will can opt for financing the boat by taking out a home equity line.  As with all major financial decisions, a reverse mortgage should be part of your overall strategic plan. Accessing your home equity can be a great way to add freedom and flexibility to your retirement financing, but there are factors that need to be considered. Contact a FAR representative if you have any questions about how to use a reverse mortgage to finance your boat purchase.


Most people that enjoy sailing don’t own boats so don’t let that stop you. When it comes to sailing, when and where you go is entirely up to you – get out there and sail into the retirement of your dreams!

This article is intended for general informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as financial or tax advice. For more information about whether a reverse mortgage may be right for you, you should consult an independent financial advisor. For tax advice, please consult a tax professional.