The importance of having an emergency fund while sailing
The importance of having an emergency fund while sailing

Having an emergency fund while sailing is crucial for handling unexpected expenses such as boat repairs, medical emergencies, weather-related expenses, and travel interruptions. Find out how to determine the right amount to save and tips for building and maintaining your emergency fund.

The Importance of Having an Emergency Fund While Sailing

Sailing around the world with your family is an incredible adventure that offers a unique sense of freedom and fulfillment. However, it also comes with its fair share of challenges and uncertainties. One of the most critical aspects of this lifestyle is ensuring that you have a solid financial plan in place, including an emergency fund.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of having an emergency fund while sailing, how to determine the right amount to save, and tips for building and maintaining your emergency fund.

Why You Need an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is a financial safety net that can help you cover unexpected expenses without having to rely on credit cards or loans. When you’re sailing, emergencies can come in many forms, such as:

  • Boat repairs: Even the most well-maintained boats can experience unexpected issues, from engine failure to damaged sails. Repair costs can quickly add up, especially if you’re in a remote location where parts and labor are more expensive.

  • Medical emergencies: Accidents and illnesses can happen at any time, and medical care can be costly, particularly if you need to be evacuated to a hospital or require specialized treatment.

  • Weather-related expenses: Severe weather can force you to change your plans, leading to additional costs for marina fees, provisions, or even temporary accommodations on land.

  • Travel interruptions: Family emergencies, visa issues, or other unexpected events may require you to fly home or change your travel plans, which can be expensive.

Having an emergency fund in place can help you weather these financial storms without derailing your sailing adventure or putting your family’s financial security at risk.

Determining the Right Amount for Your Emergency Fund

The amount you need in your emergency fund will depend on your unique circumstances and risk tolerance. However, a general rule of thumb is to have enough money saved to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses. This should give you enough cushion to handle most emergencies without having to dip into your long-term savings or investments.

When calculating your living expenses, consider the following:

  • Boat maintenance and repairs: Factor in the average annual cost of maintaining your boat, including routine maintenance, insurance, and any anticipated repairs.

  • Provisions and supplies: Estimate your monthly spending on food, water, fuel, and other essentials.

  • Communication and navigation expenses: Include the cost of satellite phones, internet access, and any navigation software or equipment you use.

  • Marina fees and mooring costs: If you plan to spend time in marinas or use mooring balls, factor in the average monthly cost.

  • Travel and transportation expenses: Consider the cost of flights, rental cars, or other transportation you may need for unexpected trips home or to other destinations.

  • Medical and evacuation insurance: If you don’t already have medical and evacuation insurance, research the cost of a policy that covers your family while sailing.

Once you have a clear understanding of your monthly expenses, multiply that number by three to six months to determine your target emergency fund amount.

Tips for Building Your Emergency Fund

Building an emergency fund may seem daunting, but with a little planning and discipline, you can reach your goal. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Set a realistic goal: Determine the amount you want to save for your emergency fund and set a target date for reaching that goal. Be realistic about how much you can save each month and adjust your timeline accordingly.

  2. Create a separate savings account: Open a dedicated savings account for your emergency fund, separate from your regular checking or savings account. This will help you avoid the temptation to dip into your emergency fund for non-emergency expenses.

  3. Automate your savings: Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your emergency fund savings account each month. This will help ensure that you consistently save toward your goal.

  4. Cut expenses and increase income: Look for ways to reduce your spending and increase your income to help you save more quickly. This may include cutting back on discretionary spending, finding part-time work, or taking on freelance projects.

  5. Save windfalls and unexpected income: Whenever you receive a financial windfall, such as a tax refund, bonus, or inheritance, consider putting a portion of it toward your emergency fund.

Maintaining Your Emergency Fund

Once you’ve reached your emergency fund goal, it’s essential to maintain and replenish it as needed. Here are some tips for keeping your emergency fund intact:

  1. Use it only for emergencies: Resist the temptation to dip into your emergency fund for non-emergency expenses. If you find yourself consistently using your emergency fund for everyday expenses, reevaluate your budget and look for ways to cut spending or increase income.

  2. Replenish it after use: If you do need to use your emergency fund, make a plan to replenish it as soon as possible. This may involve temporarily increasing your monthly savings or finding additional sources of income.

  3. Adjust your target amount as needed: As your circumstances change, you may need to adjust the amount you have saved in your emergency fund. For example, if your monthly expenses increase or you decide to take on additional risks, such as sailing in more remote areas, you may need to save more.

  4. Review your emergency fund regularly: Periodically review your emergency fund to ensure it’s still meeting your needs. This may involve adjusting your target amount, evaluating your savings strategy, or considering alternative savings vehicles, such as high-yield savings accounts or short-term investments.


Having an emergency fund is a crucial component of financial planning for sailors. It provides a safety net for unexpected expenses and helps ensure that your sailing adventure can continue without jeopardizing your family’s financial security. By determining the right amount to save, creating a plan to build your emergency fund, and maintaining it over time, you’ll be better prepared to navigate the financial challenges that come with living the sailing lifestyle.