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The wind gave one last puff and died all together; the tiny island I had been sailing next to for over two hours started to grow smaller and smaller as the turning tide slowly robbed me of the hard eraned progress I had made in the light and fluky winds. I pulled out my ukulele grabbed a cool beer from my bilge and slowly strummed the afternoon away.  This was day one of failed attempt at cutting the dock lines number 20.  sailing small Photo by Adam Nash Photography

Being an engineless sailor has taught me many lessons, most importantly patience.  The bottom is painted and I’m wrapping up my list of boatyard chores.  This is the year my outboard will run and run like a top, I still don’t plan on carrying more than 2 gallons of fuel but that’s 25 mies of emergency back up.

I sat in the cockpit of my boat which feels more like a treehouse tucked in the woods in this obscure little boatyard in the San Juan’s.  The beer in the bilge is still cold enough to be as good as it gets, my mind drifted off to provisioning land.  Sailing a traditional boat has its moments, and every once in a while I fantasize about the Joneses.  I admit there are times when I dream about having simple pleasures like a diesel engine, refrigeration, forced air heat, solar electricity, chart plotters… My simple fantasy usually comes in the form of a brand spanking new Hallberg Rassey 36 and at the expense of a 240 month boat mortgage.

It was a beautiful warm sunny day and I was the only person in the boatyard, surrounded by dozens of boats many years neglected and wondered where everybody was.  One beer turned into two and two into a third with a cold bean salad fresh out of a can topped with vinegar oil and pepper.  Lounging in the cool of the cabin I took note of the gaping hole where my refrigeration used to be and where my oven will go once I sail to Port Townsend to pick it up.  I’ve lived comfortably aboard a boat in progress for a week shy of three years now and find living through the process to be much more pleasing than working thought a 15 year plan.

This will also be year 7 living aboard and sailing without refrigeration, a chart plotter, radar, life raft, heat, Ham radio…  I have to admit that my someday list is simple but elegant but someday can’t compete with today.  For the last three years I have been living on $500.00 a month, when I finally get this old girl floating I’m hoping to have enough left to buy paper charts for Canada then the budget will be busted and just like last summer I will more than likely set off penniless.

So there I was 10 years ago suffocating in my office watching the world sail by through my glass prison bars.  More than anything I wanted an adventure, I was young had tons of money and no debt.  One day I finally got the courage to walk out that door and never look back. When I set off on this adventure it was in part fueled by some very simple words written by Sterling Hayden.

“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… “cruising” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

It turns out that Sterling had a 100′ fully crewed and provisioned yacht with the 2014 equivalent of over a hundred thousand dollars.  If you truly want a real life adventure its out there and waiting for anybody willing to accept the risk but I can assure you one thing, the adventure lies in the journey, the destination is simply the payoff for having the balls to do what men like Sterling Hayden and Mr jones never did.  Be careful what you ask for… you just might get it.  Cheers 🙂

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