Sailing the Globe on the Cheap

Brian Nold has a message for the 99 percent and a singular method of communicating that message – it doesn’t take tons of cash to fulfill your goals.

Brian Nold and the Maxed Out! II at home in Warrensburg.

And to prove his point, Brian bought an inexpensive boat and an inexpensive truck to pull it, and he’s going to sail solo around the world – starting in St. Louis.

“I’ve been quite distracted in life and I’m way overdue for another adventure,” he said, standing next to his work-in-progress, a 1971 Contessa 26 he picked up in Toronto.

“This kind of shit give’s my life a lot of meaning. I got distracted with stuff and now I’ve got a real clear vision of what I need to be doing.”

That vision is to continue the Maxed Out! tradition. It started with a river trip during the epic floods of 1993 when he and his brother, David, sailed the Missouri River to the Mississippi down to New Orleans and across the gulf to Key West, Fla.

This time, the Maxed Out! II will have a single occupant. And this time he intends to write his book about circumnavigating the globe right away. His first book, “The Voyage of the Maxed Out!,” was published in 2002, nine years after the trip.

It’s certainly not Mark Twain, but the stories of waving to passing barges while taking a dump and meeting a host of characters along the way are quite entertaining.

Brian started planning another river jaunt but this time aboard a raft. Meanwhile, in the back of his mind, nagged this ultimate goal of sailing around the world.

His voice hushed to a whisper as he talked about researching for the trip: “The more I read these books the more I thought…all of a sudden I slapped the cover shut and I said, ‘My god, you know what? This is doable – even for a poor guy.’

“I just kind of dropped the idea of doing some pissant sissy trip because I’m too much of a chicken and I just decided you know what I’m going to do that big one.”

All that reading and all that research took root. Fear comes from ignorance, he said. Research, be creative and “all those fears just pop like bubbles. Pop! Pop! Pop!”

The reality is he’s about to find himself alone, in the middle of the ocean, reading, fishing, eating beans and rice, watching the water and watching the sky. But he genuinely finds the concept thrilling.

And to up the ante, Brian intends to utilize celestial navigation to chart his courses. He’ll have a GPS device to verify whether he’s doing it correctly.

“I may throw it overboard, depending on how confident I get.”

Just imagine sitting on an undulating boat while you try to measure a precise angle of the sun and the horizon.

“I’m fascinated with the ancient arts of seafaring. You read all these books and you read about how much skill these guys had. Man, that shit wasn’t easy.”

He’s “somewhat trained” in the art but the final test will be actually doing it.

“This is one of the pillars of what I do,” he said. “I am absolutely fascinated with the art of teaching yourself how to anything.”

That applies to his life in general. He’s self-employed and self-taught. He’s skilled at carpentry, electrical work and plumbing. He’s currently teaching himself how to handle all things heating and cooling.

“I challenge myself to be a master of all building trades.”

So, how much cash does it take to sail around the world? Not much it turns out. In fact, that’s one of Brian’s purposes in this endeavor – let the 99 percent know that it doesn’t take corporate backing to pull off  a trip of this scale. He paid $8,000 for the boat and $3,000 for a used Ford F250 to pull it.

“When I say ‘boat,’ you say $100,000. When I say ‘truck,’ you say $40,000. These are the common numbers people are thinking and believing what it takes,” Brian said. “I say no. That ain’t what it takes.”

The trip starts and stops in St. Louis. Brian plans to sail down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, sail across to the Yucatan Peninsula then to the Panama Canal. He’ll hit numerous islands in the South Pacific, travel north of Australia to South Africa. Then, he’ll shoot straight up the middle of the Atlantic and eventually to New York, up the Hudson River to the Great Lakes system, and the Illinois River from Chicago to the Mississippi and back to St. Louis.

The boat still needs quite a bit of work, but Brian’s itching to leave.

“When am I going to go? As soon as possible,” he said. “I think I can be ready in a year, easily. It’s a guess.”

His concept of a total budget is nebulous.

“I say you can’t do it because it varies massively,” he said. “There’s an inverse relationship between how much suffering you’re willing to do and how much money you need. I say you can do it on what you have, no matter what that is. But you may have to do without a lot of comforts.

“You know what? That’s what I’m going to do. I don’t have the answers yet because I haven’t fixed that boat up and I don’t know what I’m going to have left, but I’m not going to work another year after I get that boat fixed up.”
The boat looks big from the ground as it sits on its trailer, but looks are deceiving. Inside, the cabin is cramped with no room to stand up straight or do much else. There’s space in the forward area for sleeping, but Brian plans to sleep in the cabin. The center of the boat is less turbulent, he said.

Robin Knox-Johnston was the first to sail solo nonstop around the globe. He did it in about 10 months (June 1968-April 1969). Brian said if you cruise, have fun and goof off, you can do it in three years. Don’t waste time, two years. Hurry and don’t make a lot of stops, it could take 1½ years. However, Brian’s main gauge is how long his cash holds out and whether he’s successful fishing and bartering.

Using “The Cruiser’s Handbook of Fishing” as his guide, Brian said he plans to catch fish not only to eat but also to barter – which is what the book’s co-author, Scott Bannerot did.

“That sounds like that fits into the Maxed Out concept real well,” Brian said. “If I could get good at that and be swapping big chunks of yellow fin tuna and wahoo for like a bucket of oranges and lemons and a big thing of potatoes. I’m going to be exploring the fishing thing pretty heavily.”

  1. #1 by Morten Undervandsjagt on November 12, 2012 - 6:04 pm

    I can recommend Cruisers Handbook of fishing as well!

  2. #2 by Marla Moss on March 1, 2015 - 12:26 am

    LOL… this guy has no idea what he’s doing… it’s actually confidence-inspiring 🙂

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