1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: Back to the Boat

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Back to the Boat

Nothing like a mini vacation in a world class hotel, room service (oh yea!), limitless hot showers, huge and comfortable bed ;>) in fact, all the comforts of 'normal' life. But when your 'normal' life is lived on a sailboat, the sterility of hotel living feels a bit odd. To be honest, it's nice to be back on the boat, waking up to sunrises peeking in the companionway and the gentle sway of the boat in the water and the wind soughing through the rigging, the sound of dolphins blowing outside as they fish near the boat.
Sure, there are challenges - when the tide is low, it's a bit of a nuisance to get on and off, especially with Aduana the WonderPuppy® to deal with. When it gets cold, keeping the boat warm is not as simple as pushing some buttons on a thermostat. Then there's dealing with the humidity on cold weather days if, as I am, you're not further south by now...it's simply not as easy, but it has its rewards. One of those is that I haven't held a snow shovel in my hands in over ten years. Cutting the lawn? Well, I do have to dive to scrape barnacles from the hull every couple of months, but it's hardly the same thing.
Kidding aside though, freedom is the biggest reward. I pretty much live my life as I choose to. I often have people say to me that I'm so fortunate to be able to do this. I hear that most often from very wealthy people; interestingly enough they are people who could afford to do what I do far more easily if their wealth hadn't made them prisoners to their lifestyle.
What most don't understand is that freedom is a choice, and anyone can make it. But - it requires some courage and, like with most choices, there is a price to be paid. Most people are not willing to make those choices, they prefer the rut they live in...forgetting that the only difference between a rut and a grave is that the grave has ends on all four side of it rather than just two. Think about that if you would.
I've chosen to give up the regular working world, the commute to an office (in this case, my newspaper business), a regular paycheque. I've also given up having a regular circle of friends whom I could see regularly for a much larger circle of friends strung out from Northern and Central Ontario in Canada to as far away as Australia and South Africa. Some of those I may see only every few years, but one of the interesting aspects of this lifestyle is that these folks truly are close friends, despite the distance.
Unlike many who live and travel on their boats with a retirement package or accumulated wealth, I continue to work in the media field, my former occupation. Now however, I work for boating publications, create videos about sailing and, when the opportunity comes up, do boat deliveries, charters or teach. My life is my work is my life. The important thing is that I enjoy it. 
I'm doing what I enjoy, and I enjoy what I'm doing. I'm not getting rich, but I have food and beer in the fridge, a glass of wine in my hand as I write this, diesel in the tank, and no fear of starving or running short. The wind is still free. How much more do you really need?
My father used to tell me as I was growing up that life was short, that you should do what makes you happy. His phrase was "You're a long time dead" and it was many years before I figured out what he really meant by that. Others have said that you'll never see the phrase "I should have worked more" on anyone's gravestone. I do believe that's true, and I never have seen it. Have you?
Let me ask each one of you - and you don't have to answer me of course, but you'll tell yourself the truth as you read this question: do you really enjoy what you're doing with your life? If you had a choice between working and doing what makes you happy, what would you choose?
I know some of you well enough to know what your answer is, we've talked about it. I know some of you well enough to guess what your answer would be if we did talk about it. And I know some of you have never thought about this. I can tell you now, I wish someone had put these kinds of questions in front of me as a young man. Or, perhaps someone did and I simply wasn't listening. When you're young, that happens.
Still, ask yourself, will more money than you have now make your life better? Or is money just a heavy link in a chain shackling you to a life you don't enjoy all that much?  
How much would you give to spend every single evening for the next year looking at the sun going down somewhere behind your boat, casting gold and bronze rays along the surface of the water...and then wake up to a beautiful sunrise and know that the only person in the entire world that you have to answer to is....you?
Most of us are part of a generation that revered freedom growing up in the 60s and 70s, sang songs about it, swore it was how we would live
It seems we've forgotten our dreams. I'm here to tell you, it isn't too late.
As Mark Twain said -  

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed 
by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. 
So throw off the bowlines...
Sail away from the safe harbor...
Catch the trade winds in your sails...

Explore. Dream. Discover.