In October 2015, management consultant Catherine Marks and her engineer husband, Will, quit their jobs, sold everything, bought an old sailboat and sailed the Caribbean for 10 months. Living on the vessel cost half as much as living in their studio apartment in San Francisco, and they are determined to save up and do it again. Their adventures are chronicled on the YouTube channel MondayNever and the website mondaynever.com.
Q: What was the best part of your trip?
A: It gave us a break from the stress of work and let us live a simpler life. We got to spend all of our days together, snorkeling and freediving the most beautiful water in the world.
Q: How much did you save before starting your trip?
A: We saved aggressively for several years to buy a 36-foot, 1989 CS Merlin sloop for $37,000, which we sold for close to that when our adventure was over. We budgeted to spend $4,000 per month on expenses, emergencies and boat repairs, but we rarely spent more than $3,000.
Q: How did you find your boat?
A: Will shopped around online for several years, so when our boat came on the market in the British Virgin Islands, we knew it was a good deal. It came with a 24 hp motor and dinghy, a full kitchenette, a manual-pump head and a shower. We hired an onsite boat inspector to help us buy it sight unseen.
Q: What was your route?
A: We flew to Tortola and spent a week working on the boat before sailing the Lesser Antilles island chain down to Grenada. We came home via Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, landing in Florida, where we sold the boat.
Q: How much sailing experience did you have?
A: Will was an experienced sailor, but I had very little experience. The vast majority of young sailors we met knew how to sail but had no significant experience prior to leaving the United States.
Q: What precautions did you take to stay safe?
A: We never tried to outrun bad weather, and we used a chart plotter with GPS. We had a radio and cellphones with Garmin BlueCharts and ActiveCaptain software. When we made long crossings, we filed a float plan with a fellow sailing friend and checked in with family members on arrival.
Q: How did you manage your money while at sea?
A: We put the money we saved in a checking account, and when we arrived at an island, we used an ATM to withdraw a couple hundred dollars of their currency for provisions and dining out. We were always able to access cash or use a credit card.
Q: What did you pack?
A: We packed bathing suits, flip-flops and a limited wardrobe of casual clothes. Our boat carried 130 gallons of fresh water and 40 gallons of fuel. We stocked up on pasta, lentils and rice to go with all the fresh mahimahi and tuna we caught.
Q: What advice would you give to Caribbean cruisers?
A: Be friendly and outgoing, like the Caribbean people are. And remember: “Island time” is real — everything moves slowly. Learning to be patient goes a long way.