Building a boat to sail around the world when you don't know boat building or sailing

Agreed on the “don’t wait until it’s too late” philosophy. Glad you were able to go for it! I never considered getting donations, either. However, a lot of the folks I watch in the RV community have channels with advertising. I’m still in the “try before you buy” stage, and want to see more electric vehicle options before I commit to one.

A larger problem I notice in reports on people like this (and retirement in general) is overestimating how much is needed to do it. There are millions of retired people in the US who are far from being millionaires. Yet that’s the first goal many workers set for themselves. :woman_shrugging:t4: Financial sector firms profit from getting folks worked up over potential imaginary future expenses in a world where no public services exist. That keeps workers chasing the unattainable, which meets the goals of corporate owners. However, that’s not the world we live in, and most of us are not going to live or die wealthy. Setting realistic goals was the key in my escape from the rat race.

Thanks for more details on the property, too. The value of the land in this case is only having to pay for taxes and upkeep, possibly divided by the number of people living on it. That can save families a lot of money every year.


My wife follows a bunch of full timers, from established retirees to young families. The young families are funding their lifestyle with YouTube and tik tok videos. They all watched similar videos that told them they could do it.

It goes well until they need a new engine or some other major repair or a medical bill and then the GoFundMe pages roll out. Good for them for trying but those “influencers” that lie to get followers don’t really help anyone.

I can’t see full timing or major traveling but it’s been awesome to take long weekends within a couple hours of home for the last few years. And it’s state parks all the way for us, those fancy resort type place are way to expensive. We pay an average of 35 bucks a night where those fancy places can go well over a hundred bucks a night.

It helps that we have some disposable income to dump into it and with an older one I can do most repairs myself. The newer ones are all electronic iPad controlled nonsense. Once a board goes out and it’s not in stock your RVing can get screwed for weeks and months.

So far the biggest repair has been rebuilding the fridge. Thank goodness for the Amish who are experts in absorption refrigeration and YouTube how tos.

Due to covid there are about to be a crap ton of used RVs on the market. People bought thinking it would be quality family time instead of Disney Land but no one told them about the upkeep, storage, fuel costs, etc…

Prices are slowly dropping. I see my local mega dealer has a lot full again.


TBF, that didn’t have to SAIL anywhere, just float. :wink:


If you want to see examples of the right and wrong way to do this, here are two.

The wrong way:

This guy has never sailed and knows nothing about boats but spent a decade building a 74 foot steel sail boat in his back yard. This guy is Full Dunning Krueger. While watching him pretend he’s actually serious about sailing around the world, you’ll hear all about how all his problems are the government’s fault and lots of privilege blind whining about “kids today”. While the build is without a doubt an impressive feat of labour, countless genuine experts ranging from marine architecture to sailing to hydraulics to diesel mechanics have weighed in over the years to politely try to help him stop doing literally everything wrong. He dismisses them all as “nanny staters” and such. This guy has become such a self-parody over the years (including faking an acetylene explosion and subsequent hospitalization for views, and lying about the coast guard not letting him launch his boat for six months) that there’s an entire Reddit devoted to dragging this clown. Did I mention he’s never sailed and has no idea if he even likes it? People watch his channel rooting for him to fail, basically. His boat is a white trash mess of non-marine grade parts, from tractor hydraulics to a bus engine to wire nuts to a poor abused CNC machine.

The right way:

Leo is an absolute peach of a human being with a long career as a working sailor and shipwright. He’s an encyclopedia of boat building knowledge, yet still regularly brings in other experts to make sure he’s doing everything right. He is restoring a historic sailing yacht and doing everything to an incredible standard. He’s an absolute joy and you will root for him to succeed.

Unfortunately our fellow in this story is example #1. Romanticizing a story like this just contributes to the continued undermining of expertise and value of knowledge that seems to be happening right now

“Poverty tourism” is the term I’ve heard for that, and I think it is on the nose.


I guess it’s marginally more likely to succeed than that guy who made headlines back in the early 2000s with his plan to go to the edge of space in a homemade rocket despite having no background or expertise in aerospace.

I remember he had a website documenting the project and his naivety of the challenges involved seemed staggering even though I’m a total layperson in engineering.


Was that the one who managed to get funding from the flat-Earthers that wanted him to prove that this nonsense about the Earth really being round was a big hoax? Finally someone who would tell it as it is?


Came here to make sure Leo got an appropriate shout-out for his very excellent efforts. His videos are great to watch not only for the yacht construction content, but also as quality pieces of documentary film making.


There are places where you can build a wooden boat for about 4,000$ and end up with one that will float, and the knowledge of how the boat works. Maybe this guy should try the Thor Heyerdahl raft trip first. Several people who built boats in their gardens/back yards/garages have become famous for not being able to get them to the water-or even of off their property.


I watched one of those videos with a crew of no-nothings building their own yacht. It came to a head when they poured their own keel out of molten lead and took no precautions. I can’t find their channel now.


No that was a different guy who got himself all blowed up flattened against the earth (though he did at least manage to get his rocket off the ground).


Because they are all dead?


Well, if you can live with your family on a large property with no rent or mortgage, that is inherited wealth. Even if the property isn’t worth much (“”), millions of people could never dream of buying even worthless land, let alone getting it hooked up to utilities and roads, making the social connections that make it viable to live in the area, etc. And then there’s the two college degrees, and having, let’s say, the right look to attract gofundme dollars from boat fans, which is not a uniformly distributed resource…

But I’m not blaming boat guy here (I could make similar points about myself). His economic position’s probably about where most people should expect to be. The problem is that’s nowhere near the case, and politics would be very different if everyone grokked how far it is from being true, only the TV is gaslighting us by pretending 6 or 7-figure “life savings” is a normal thing.


They also said in the video that he and the other guy he started this project with kept their day jobs until the video of melting the lead and pouring it to make the keel went viral. So it’s not like this guy just quit his job on day 1 and started building a boat.


I see some people making assumptions about Stephen because of the way a CBS fluff piece is put together. One thing I will say, as someone who has watched a lot of those “build a boat” YT channels for years (well I gave up on SV seeker as most did). Stephen is not Leo, who is an experienced sailor / shipwright, and he is NOT that SV Seeker guy, who is an experienced tool. He doesn’t have the direct experience but really shows himself as highly capable and thoughtful about what is going on here. He is not some trust fund dilettante, nor does he have any delusion that he will be able to sail off into the blue without any experienced sailors there to help him learn. He grew up on the farm where he harvested the trees that are being used to build the boat. His grandfather helps him figure out a lot of the diesel machinery they employ in the workshop and in the field. It really is a great “homegrown” project, something pretty special.

I also feel like it’s unfair to say that by soliciting donations, he’s just having other people pay for his dream. There are two sides to the equation here. He’s not someone who just set up a gofund me so he can travel to hawaii for fun. The youtube channel is a gold mine of content,and that doesn’t just come up by filming clips on a phone and slapping it up on YT - they have a full time editor (who also does the music), a producer, and a shipwright to pay. The channel provides a lot of education and entertainment (check it out!). The viewers and patreon supporters get a lot for what they pay (and for most, that is zero). It is great to watch his dream coming alive, and to witness the sheer tenacity it takes to make it happen.

My biggest doubt about it all has always been his lack of sailing experience - but after watching how diligent he has been about learning this craft (the boat is really well put together and his thoughtful research is not to be overstated, his attention to safety in the workplace, his treatment of the people who volunteer and work with him, and his general attitude about this project, I feel like he’s going to do things as much the right way as one can do. I sure hope so anyway, nothing I’ve seen in watching him for years would lead me to believe otherwise.


Thanks for the perspective! Most of us (myself included) are commenting without having watched his content, so it’s appreciated.

Yep. It’s not even so much that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. That’s fine, none of us are born experts. It’s the way he actively rejects the expertise of others and responds to all critique hugely defensively. It’s all very negative and insecure, with a thick layer of posturing on top.

I hope nobody here is judging the guy for paying for it with YouTube content. I didn’t get that feeling from this thread. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Anyone who thinks YouTube is some kind of free ride has never spent years building quality content to build a loyal audience to get to the point where you can start to get paid for all that work. I have, and trust me, there are a lot easier ways to make money than YouTube.

I have nothing but respect for this part of what he’s done. Again, contrast with SV Seeker who set up a verrrry sketchy “charity” funding his boat for alleged scientific research that everybody knows is never going to materialize (again because actual marine researchers have told him, “Dude, nobody will accept a grant proposal for an uninsured homemade boat with an unlicensed captain”).


Exactly. Unrealistic expectations meeting reality. As others have pointed out, this boat builder might find out that sailing is not for him after trying it for a while.

That’s my plan, too. Lots of folks who have been full-timers for years/decades have been posting videos about buying land or getting a space in snowbird resorts. That surprised me, and of course now prices for real estate are so much higher that some wish they had rented their places out instead of selling everything.

I’ve noticed people talking about the buyer’s market and prices dropping dramatically. I’m curious to see how electric units affect the market over the next few years, too. On the maintenance side, it sounds like some manufacturers are following the yacht model. They are using marine-grade parts or materials, because people with boats might need repairs or parts anywhere in the world (like the guy in this story - if he’s successful). Also, repair services that come to the vehicle/use 3D printing instead of relying on towing and long waits for appointments and parts seem to be on the rise.

True. It doesn’t have to be large, either. My family had three generations in a house built for one at different points in time. Everyone who did that was better off financially because of it.

I agree that the guy in the story is an outlier, but I don’t agree that others with limited means aren’t taking similar steps on a different scale. Sure, there are millions of people in the US who cannot afford to buy land. However, there are millions of working-class people who are doing just that, and some are not building in the traditional manner with utilities. That’s what the RVers I mentioned above have been doing. Not sure how the numbers stack up between the groups that cannot afford it at all vs. others who are buying land in less expensive areas vs. those who are boondocking without the need to buy land at all, though.


My first time on the ocean in any kind of boat was as crew on a 31’ Elan crossing from Gibraltar to Martinique (with a 1 week pause in Gran Canaria to ‘provision’*). Had I, a prairie boy from Alberta, fully grasped the risk I might not have jumped on board. It was an exciting journey that changed my life in a lot of ways.

For much of the next 20 years I lived on, sailed, raced and crewed boats in a variety of configurations (sailboats, fishing boats, cargo). At one point I bought a ‘project boat’ and tried to fix it up for a round the world trip. Ultimately I decided against it because I don’t have the personality for it.

This guy might eventually realize he could buy a perfectly servicable boat for a fraction of the cost and effort. There are boat builders and boat sailors, and they are rarely the same people.

*Drink our faces off


My comment was based on an article I read where it talked about donations. Their website has a donation link and a list of things they need if people want to buy them something specific. That’s separate from video and merchandise sales.

I don’t fault them for making money off their videos or Patreon or merchandise.

They do talk about corporate donations but they don’t do sponsorships to promote corporate donations.


One of the first jobs I was ever hired for was at age 18, to serve as cook and solo crew for an older couple cruising for a week on their 40-foot motor yacht boat from San Diego to Hawai’i. Good pay, and they’d put me up in Hawai’i for a week and fly me home. They were retired and did the trip every year.

I took the job, developed a menu, and provisioned the boat. Then thought about it. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t know them well enough to spend a week on a 40-footer, and that the probability was high that someone was going to dump someone else overboard and nobody would be the wiser. I backed out. Smartest decision I’ve ever regretted.


Wait… he is building a boat yet has NEVER sailed? At all? Maybe he should learn to sail? I’m going to take sailing classes this spring as I’d LOVE to buy a boat, and I’ve been on lakes since I was able to walk onto my Dad’s tiny home made single sail boat! this guy is… wow. Maybe he’ll have sea sickness? I’m the only one in my family to NOT have motion sickness.

And he isn’t much of a woodworker either? This has disaster written all over it. Just sayin.

Tho I wish him luck! He’ll need it and more.