Sitting in the Saloon of Siren by the warm glow of her lanterns surrounded by happy chatter I felt at peace with my decision, at home in a new space but mostly humbled to be ocupying what is truly one of most finely fitted yachts I have ever been aboard.
Last week I was offered a straight across trade on a steel Colvin Pinky Schooner 36. At 50 LOA she is not small or simple, she is a sailing machine. I had spent countless quite evenings going over the listing and all her brand new gear. This ship is ready for sea today and literally needs nothing but a crew of two with a large appetite for adventure. She was launched in 2008 at a cost of over 300K not including labor. Every inch of her is pure perfection from her hydraulic auto pilot to her diesel range/heater. Radar, water maker, full electronics, offshore life raft… Every detail down to her silk sheets called my name.
When I received that fateful call my heart sank. A complete stranger was offering me my dream schooner, I hadn’t made a single inquirey as I could never afford such a ship but now she had found me and all I had to do was trade Sookie and she would be mine. I’ve spent a lifetime at sea on on every boat from my 14′ West Wight Potter to multi million dollar mega yachts. Not once in my life have I ever been on a boat that was such sweet perfection, her hand polished joinery so tight it would be better fit in a museum than on the salty brine. When I first stepped aboard she instantly reminded me of the dream chalet I built on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. This boat was built for me in every way. I would finally get to walk the decks of my own schooner, her new name Skank instantly came to mind, her long sleek black hull and new crispy sails would carry me up the inside passage in style, All I had to do was say yes.
I’m sitting in Sookies Cabin pecking at my keyboard less than 50 yards from Skank the cool of fall is in the air, the damp morning fog is burning off and my decision to keep Sookie was the easiest one I have ever made. We all get two foot itis, want bigger better things, nicer things, more things. That ship would have easily lasted me a lifetime but it’s not my style, big ships like fast women can’t keep my interest. Sure its fun to dream and look and think and contemplate the infinite possibilities of the future but deep down we all have an internal reality check that if we listen to our hearts keeps us straight. I have to admit there is a pang of remorse turning down such a fine yacht but it went to a good friend when I turned her down so she will always be in my family.
I wanted to do something special for Emily, to create something that is ours and ours alone. I thought that that meant a new boat but it doesn’t. Back to the drawing board I put the Dana 24 at the top of my list, backed out of the offer I had made on it, what will some day be my last boat and pulled out my log book. I knew I couldn’t afford this little Falmouth Cutter the day I bought her, pound for pound they are the most expensive boats ever built. I found Sookie alone and in pieces half way across the county, she needed everything but her bones were strong. I took a chance and gambled my future on owning the finest boat ever designed or built. It has been a frustrating and painstaking slow process and there are times when I feel like I will never finish. I needed Skank to come into my life to remind me whats possible, she was 15 years in construction, you can’t rush it.
I think the hardship is what keeps me going, the on going challenge not only to my mind and body but spirit as well. It wasn’t that long ago sitting in my air-conditioned office, being strangled with the boredom of security that I begged for freedom, adventure, adversity but most of all the ability to live my precious life before my few allotted days on this planet are over. It was Sterling Haydens words that haunted me till the day I set myself free. When I first read his book I was quick to judge that he never lived up to his own words. Soon I learned that I could know nothing about him, a book, his book is nothing but a snap shot of his life. It has taken me years to understand his words, perhaps a lifetime, somewhere out there between shadow and darkness we all find our adventure. It isn’t about a boat, or a conquest. It isn’t found on top of Mt Everest or in the middle of a raging hurricane. Its the small daily challenges, rising to the occasion suppressing our fears and knowing that no matter how small our accomplishments were today that we are being true to ourself and doing what ever is is that we desire most in life. The best medication for the tired, weary and sick is a life well lived, SYOB…
“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? ”
― Sterling Hayden, Wanderer