This is the story of a man, his wife who were stressed out from their corporate lives, and sick of shivering. They put their careers on hold, and did something about it. Here is our story of sailing, RV'ing and life in the Caribbean, along with other stories, advice, and inspiration to help you start living the dream! Follow us every Monday for updates on how we are living our dreams, hear stories about others pursuing their dreams, or gain insight and advice on how to realize yours!
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Sunday, 17 March 2013
The Why , The Who, The How …
If you have ever sailed a sailboat, you know the incredible
satisfaction that comes from harnessing the wind. I’m not talking about the
tingle you get from tequila shots, and rum punches, on an excursion catamaran
in the Dominican. I’m talking about the sheer exhilaration you experience when
you hold the wheel in one hand, and trim the sails with the other.
Imagine, it’s early
morning, and the sun has just broke the horizon.
It’s warm, but dew still drips from the palm leaves. The water ripples, while a
soft breeze begins to build. As the sails lift, they luff in the breeze. You
turn the bow from nose to the wind, to 45 degrees on a port tack (that’s ‘wind
on your left side’ for land lovers). As the sail fills, the boat gains
momentum. The sun climbs the bright blue sky, as the boat continues to stretch
the space between you and shore. No
sooner do waves start to form fore of your bow, when your bow smashes through
them like a knife through butter. You realise the freedom of an open sea, and
an endless breeze. You wonder how far you could go, and recognise there are no
firm limits! Your spirit, your bravery is all that will set your boundaries!
This freedom is at the core ofour motivation to give it all up. Beyond that,
there is also fear. I fear a lot of things in my life. I fear regrets. I fear
failure. I fear a life unfulfilled, potential not realised.
I also I fear the unknown. For me,the biggest unknown on earth is the ocean.
The ocean is vast, deep, and mysterious. I can sit beside the ocean for a whole
day, staring, dreaming, and meditating. It’s a day well spent, asking questions to my inner
self, and seeking answers from the vastness. But the thought of being IN the ocean, REALLY
IN the ocean? The rumour is true, it terrifies me. I’ve lived a lifetime of
facing fears, to a point that perhaps my biggest fear is not facing fears? Or
perhaps it’s just the Leafs fan in me, makes me a glutton for punishment!?
Our Tiki Bar
This, in warm weather, the boat, and a perfect sailing day...
By now, I’m sure the sailors are thinking “when is this guy
going to start talking sailing, already??”, so, The Who?!
When I tell anyone about this adventure, first question I
get is “do you know how to sail”? The form in whichthe question is asked changes, depending on the experience of the person asking. But
I’m sure the point is always a qualification of sanity. I could answer this
simply by pointing out that my father-in-law has seen me sail, and he’s not
interested in coming on the boat anytime soon!
I have sailed before, but survival depends largely on always
knowing there is more that can be learnt. I got my first sailing experience
when I was 8. My dad brought home a “Sea Snark” he bought at K-Mart. Yes, I’m
THAT old! It was a 12’ Styrofoamsailboat. Simple, and easy to rig, we enjoyed many years of puttering
around small lakes in it.
As a youngadult, I
began to wonder if I had outgrown the Sea Snark, when I was out in Georgian
Bay, with two buddies. We were in a busy Penetanguishene harbour on a Sunday
afternoon, as pleasure cruisers buzzed back to port all around us. Already overloaded
with 3, in a 2 seat boat, we got swamped from wakes coming at us from all
sides. Luckily, it was Styrofoam, so no real damage was done. Although, I took
a break from sailing for a while after that experience.
I hit 30 absent from the sailing experiences of my earlier
days, and started to slide to the dark side. The power boat life that my
parents enjoyed with their 30’ rebuilt Lepeche started to grow on me. It was
nice to fire up the engines, point the boat to where we wanted to go, and be
able to cruise straight to a destination, arriving in a predictable amount of
time. My sailing roots always came haunting back, however, each time we filled
that gas tanks. Shouting over the engine sound, to have a friendly
conversation, while we choked on fumes wasn’t all it was made out to be either.
This was not a lifestyle that offered the freedom and tranquillity mentioned
In my early 30’s my parents bought a store, which brought an
end to the boat. For them, and for me. I suppose I could have carried on the
tradition alone, but there were kids to feed, careers to build… What’s that
Harry Chapin son?? So my love for the water had to be put on hold. At 40, mid
life crisis started it’s work. I needed a boat, but I was surrounded by boating
rookies, so I bought a learner… a 14’ Zuma. For anyone not in the know, a Zuma
is a daysailer, the equivalent of a Laser II, but wider, and more stable, for
recreation purposes. It would serve as a GREAT learning tool for the family.
Unfortunately, only my daughter had the courage to venture out with me! One
life change later, my new wife didn’t like venturing out on it much either! It
seems that my penchant for sailing as close to the wind as possible, wasn’t so
appealing to recreational sailors! Did I mention my father-inlaw’s opinion on
that? Boat Sold!
During this same time, I also took an interest in racing. I
realised the potential for learning. I would be working with seasoned sailors,
who would teach for free! I posted an enquiry on the Bronte Harbour website,
and was offered a spot on the crew of Heart Breaker, captained by Mike Judd,
and accepted. Shortly after, I got a call from another boat, and was encouraged
to rethink. I did, based on “questionable intelligence” and spent Tuesdays and
Thursdays on a less competitive boat, with less experienced racers. I learnt
just the same, and had fun doing it!
When the wind was good, racing was fun. When the wind wasn’t,
it made for a long night. But I got a great insight into the ‘Club’, and it was
good! Work, with a LOT of travel, as well as the rigours of being a single dad,
forced me to give up the racing. I came away with knowledge, and the
understanding that the sailing community was a close knit fraternity, dedicated
to promoting a simpler life, a fun life.
So fast forward to today. Now that you know a bit about who
I am and what motivates me, I’m sure you’re wondering how I can quit
everything, at 47, for a simpler life. To achieve this, many things need be
addressed. Financial means, and sailing experience are the two most important
things we needed to realise.
First, the Financial
Well, winning the lottery is the BEST option… but probably
not so likely. We considered donations , but people are funny when it comes to
asking them for money to do what they would rather do themselves! Still not
likely. Fortunately, we have two houses, some investments, and a willingness to
live simple! So financially, liquidating everything MIGHT give us a few years
of freedom, with a decent retirement… someday! The plan is to budget $25 000
per year, with a goal to enjoy at least two years of sailing. Lots of uncertainty,
but my office walls is filled with ‘what if, options’! Beyond that, we’re
hopeful that somewhere, somehow, along our travels, we can discover a way to
seek out a living, and stay in the area.
As for sailing experience, buying the boat a year ahead of
our departure date is step one. My past experience, combined with a Canadian
Power Squadron course, will get us off the dock. In the book “A Sail of Two
Idiots” Renee tells the story of running aground 10 minutes outside Miami.
We’re hopeful our entry level qualifications can at least prevent that! The
lessons they learnt, shared in her book, will be of GREAT help! We also plan
to hire an instructor, for private lessons, and mechanical instruction, as soon
as we take possession. Down the road I’ll take an Intermediate course, and
Coastal Nav course from Humber Sailing School. When the time nears, to depart,
we will evaluate then, whether a captained charter will be needed, to ensure a
comfort level with ocean cruising.
As a person who loves to plan, the detail in our plans are
thorough. I have notes, maps, charts and lists posted all across my office
walls. I am constantly thinking of new ideas to save more, andto learn more. Fortunately, the sailing
community is full of good people, willing to help in anyway they can. We
already have encountered dozens of sailors who have graced us with the
experience and ideas they have to share. As our journey continues, so will our
That’s the story of The Why, The Who, and The How. We’re
getting close to launch date now, so I look forward to sharing the real time
experiences, and dramas that lie ahead!