Interview with Upcoming Sailing Nomad George Horning

Sailing to the Ultimate Lifestyle Design

Sailing to the Ultimate Lifestyle Design

Buying a boat and sailing the world is perhaps the ultimate nomadic lifestyle. You bring your accommodation and transportation with you around the world. There would be no plane tickets to buy, and no need to search for a decent place to stay. George Horning has purchased a boat and is planning to begin a sailing lifestyle in early 2010. George shares some of his thoughts on his upcoming adventure here.

Why buy a boat and get into sailing?
I have always had a love for the ocean. I love being around it. It brings me a sense of calm and clarity. I moved to Santa Barbara a couple years ago for just this reason at a time in my life when I really needed that. That is what lead to me to consider living on a boat and being around water all the time. Given the cost of living here in Santa Barbara, CA, it is actually about the most affordable way to own a roof over your head. Now I am just taking it a step further with the moving to Tonga. I was offered a great deal on a nice boat, and I jumped on it. I don’t like the direction this country is headed in, so I have no problem trying to make my own destiny somewhere else. I have no background in sailing, other than being out on sailboats and thinking it was awesome, and how lucky some of these people were to get to do this everyday. That is part of the adventure!

You bought a boat without even having all the money lined up, that is a big commitment. What is your thinking on this?
My thinking was, given my current financial situation, and knowing myself and how I deal with money, that this was the best option for me. I am buying the boat from a gentlemen I met via an article he wrote online. I contacted him and have had hundreds of email conversations back and forth. He left California for the South Pacific about 10 years ago, and never looked back. He has encouraged me along the way, and been sort of a mentor to me. Yes, I am concerned about making the payments along the way, but I want this more than anything and I know it will all work out. I read things constantly that continue to fill me with this belief. I have surrounded myself with people who are excited for me and encourage me. I have ended relationships with people who are negative and petty. I have bigger fish to fry. I have always been reactive in my life, now I am being proactive and it feels amazing.

How are you going to earn a living once you start sailing?
This is the question that keeps me up at night. I am trying to do whatever I can to make myself as visible as possible on the Internet, for a number of reasons. I want the exposure. You never know what opportunities might pop up if you put yourself out there. Like this interview. You never know who might read it and what might come my way. I am going out there with enough to live for about a year, maybe more. So I am giving myself time. I also need a break from everything in my life, so I am giving myself time for that as well. I plan on using the boat to do day tours for tourists. Yes, I know this is not a real original idea, but I have researched it extensively, and it can be done. I don’t need much to survive out there as far as money. Basically boat maintenance (which can add up I know), and food and fun. I have had plenty of money in my life, and I have had next to nothing. I think everyone should experience having nothing at some point in their life. It isn’t that bad, and it is liberating in a way. Not much to worry about. Food and shelter. Real basic. I lived in my Jeep Grand Cherokee a couple years ago for 6 months. It didn’t change my mood one bit. And you really get to know yourself and what is important. I know first hand that money is a necessary evil, and nothing more.

How much money do you think you will need to buy the boat and cover living expenses until your business gets going?
I sort of don’t want to say how much I am buying the boat for, but if you look them up online (J boat, J33), I am paying far less than what they go for. Living expenses will be covered with savings until I get something going with day tours on the boat or who knows what else. I am not worried about that right now. Getting out of here is the focus. The rest will work itself out. You have to believe this in order for it to happen. My girlfriend is coming with me as well, and she will have some money too. Like I said, at least enough to last a year.

Do you think living expenses on a boat are more or less than more typical traveling?
Well, after the boat is paid for, I won’t have much to deal with other than eating and making sure the boat doesn’t sink. “Typical” traveling is different for everyone. I can live super cheap and be fine. I can realistically live for $10/day out there. The boat has solar panels for power, so no bill there. I won’t have a phone (I hope), so no bill there either. No docking/slip fees out there. And obviously, no money paid out every night for a place to sleep. So I am thinking this will be pretty cheap, all things considered. I am not trying to go there and do nothing. I am far too young for that. I am just not trying to make a million dollars a year at the cost of my freedom and time. I am looking for a lifestyle balance. I think this term is overused these days, but that is what I am doing. I wanted warm, near water (preferably warm water), and a calm pace to life. And preferably as few people as possible. Tonga definitely fits that description.

What are your biggest fears right now?
My biggest fears? Well, being out in the middle of nowhere with no money and a broken boat is right up there. But seriously, I don’t really have too many fears right now. My current work situation is not the most stable, so my biggest fear is not having work and still owing on the boat. I won’t have it paid off until December 2009 at the pace I am on. The biggest worry I had was saying “yes” to buying the boat. Honestly, once I got over that initial “what the hell am I doing” feeling, it has been nothing but exciting every day. I can’t wait to get out there, and if I had the money today, I would be gone tomorrow.

Do you have any backup plans in case things don’t work out as planned?
Nope. A backup plan leaves room for failure. What is the worst that could happen? I have a hell of a story to tell, and I have to come back and get a job. It really doesn’t leave me in too different of a situation than I am already in. And at least with the boat, I will always have a roof over my head. And by the time I pay for it and make the few repairs it needs, it will be worth more than I paid for it. I am looking at it as a “can’t lose” situation. I am not really giving anything up to follow my dream.

George’s Next Life Blog
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Here is a link for a similar boat for sale for $29,500.

Buy a Boat and Learn to Sail; 5 Lessons for the Perfect Lifestyle from

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

2 Responses to Interview with Upcoming Sailing Nomad George Horning

  1. Corbett Barr says:

    Thanks for the Interview, John. Wow, George is headed off on an amazing adventure! That’s quite a trip he has planned, crossing the South Pacific on a relatively small boat. I hope he’s well prepared for the sailing part (the interview didn’t mention his sailing experience).

    For some inspiration, be sure to check out the books written by Bernard Moitessier, one of history’s greatest sailors. In 1969, he circumnavigated the globe single-handed without stopping in a race (Deep Water is a great documentary about one of his competitors). He mostly funded his journeys by writing books and taking odd jobs in shipyards and other places.

    I hope you’ll update us on George’s progress later. Thanks again.

  2. Dave and Deb says:

    Excellent Interview. I admire George for going for it. I thoroughly believe in “putting it out there” and things will happen for you. A positive attitude and thinking will get a person far in this world. I look forward to following his journey.

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