You might be surprised to learn that there are plenty of ways to make money sailing. Maybe you’re thinking of ways to make money while sailing around the world, or perhaps you want to earn a bit of cash to help cover moorage costs, either way, you have plenty of options.
Just don’t go taking jobs away from locals or working in another country illegally.
1. Write for sailing magazines
Got a story to tell about your latest boat project or cruise? Consider submitting it to a sailing magazine. Articles sell for $300-$500 US and a great cover shot can garner $100-$350! Robin and I have been able to subsidize a considerable part of our cruising costs by writing for magazines. See our post on everything you ever wanted to know about writing for sailing magazines.
2. Rent your boat out
Like the idea of earning a bit of cash when you’re not using your boat? You can rent out your boat (with or without a captain) on peer-to-peer boating rental services like Boatsetter starting at $100 a day.
3. AirBnB your boat
Don’t like the idea of other people sailing your boat? You could just let them sleep on it. We know several sailors who have posted their boats on AirBnB and had great success. One pair of cruisers we know AirBnB’d their quarter-berth cabin for $150 a night while stopping over in Bora Bora.
4. Work as crew
There are lots of paid-crew boat gigs and all you need is a little bit of experience. We know of a sailor who started out as a boat hitchhiker and by the end of the season was being paid $4000 Euros a month as a deck hand on a luxury yacht in the Med.
5. Deliver boats
If you’ve got your captain’s license you can deliver other people’s boats for a living. There are plenty of delivery opportunities, though people are usually looking to have you deliver their boat on upwind and less desirable routes.
Many cruisers earn a bit of money or at least are able to favorably trade for items like rum, coffee, vanilla, and cocaine (just kidding!). If you’re cruising around the world, do a bit of research and see what items can be easily traded or sold. We knew a cruiser who did zero-carbon shipping of coffee across the Atlantic to Europe.
7. Make something
We know some crafty seadogs who upcycle items like sail bags out of cloth, or floor mats out of old line. Have a killer cinnamon bun recipe? Why not dinghy-deliver goodies around the anchorage on a Saturday morning?
8. Ply your trade
We’ve met hairdressers, marine mechanics, and dentists that are all offering their services from their boats. You can get pretty creative, we even know a woman who sells sex toys from her liveaboard.
9. Work remote
If you’re more of a desk-dweller, see if you can’t take your work aboard. We know writers, animators, and software engineers who all work from their floating homes.
This comes last because really it’s a lot of work and a bit of a crap shoot. There are definitely people earning decent side incomes from their sailing vlogs and blogs but it’s really a long game and can take years to see any return. You gotta do it for the love of it!
Looking for more salty ways to make money? Check out our money section.
Fiona McGlynn is an award-winning boating writer who created Waterborne as a place to learn about living aboard and traveling the world by sailboat. She has written for boating magazines including BoatUS, SAIL, Cruising World, and Good Old Boat. She’s also a contributing editor at Good Old Boat and BoatUS Magazine. In 2017, Fiona and her husband completed a 3-year, 13,000-mile voyage from Vancouver to Mexico to Australia on their 35-foot sailboat.