The Minimalist Sailor

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Spiritual navagation

Two of my favorite quotes are:

“The best navigators have no idea where they are going until they arrive”


“All who wander are not lost”

As soon as we unshackle our spirit from the idea that we must get up every day, work for the collective, and build wealth, our path unfolds. Like a lighthouse in the fog, we will be able to see our direction, and that light we must follow at all cost! The path may not be easy nor kind, but it will bring us where we need to go, I know this in my heart!

As a lone wolf smells the air to determine his next step in the quest for life, we too must sense the world around us for direction. “Which way” should be a question we ask ourselves throughout each and every day, otherwise we are just lost in a matrix of street lights and signs, obligation, debt, and will never lead the life our spirit was meant to lead.

The truth is most of us have become brainwashed into believing that working for money, “buying” a home, getting married, and retiring when we are old men is in some way natural, however nothing could be farther from the truth. We have become institutionalized and dependent on a system where very few actually benefit. Some might call this slavery?

Perhaps I focus on the negative, or perhaps I just choose to see and acknowledge it? All I can tell you is my heart has been strained lately.

I met a man on my dock in a little house boat yesterday. He drinks and tells passers-by how his ex-wife bled him for everything and has taken his children away. When he took off his dark sunglasses all I could see was a broken man behind drunken steel blue eyes. His words were a mantra that he repeats to all that pass, soullessly, as he sips his beer and tries to forget.

My crew member Ryan also noticed a creepy black F150 pickup truck that was watching us day after day, for hours on end. I peered at him through binoculars and determined that he was some sort of cop on a steak out. After inquiring at the office here at the marina, they laughed and said “that’s just Bob, he sits there because he doesn’t want to go home to his wife”.

So many people are lost. Sure some can handle it and happily flourish, but not all.

The manager here at my marina is a really nice and friendly man. I’m actually having thanksgiving dinner with him on his boat. He ran out of jack stands and cut a deal with Petersen’s boat yard to buy a bunch, as Petersen’s is getting out of the boat storage business. That’s the place where I was yelled at, treated like dirt, and kicked into the river with no engine as a hurricane was approaching.

I told the manger here to be careful of the owner at Petersen’s when he visited, I’m sure he took my words lightly. When he returned an hour later he had no jack stands and was amazed at how he was verbally abused and yelled at violently as he was kicked off the property. What could make a man so unhappy and violent? The truth is torment and abuse. We can only take so much before we break with a sickened soul.

Life can be hard in the United States. Yes, there is Walmart which may fill some sort of emptiness as mass-consumption seems to be a national past time. But to my foreign eyes, many people seem sad, broken, and often hostile. Many people are more concerned with their right to have a gun (paranoia), then their right, and the rights of others, to see a doctor.

Over-eating, shopping, wasting, and burning fuel is just normal routine here. Everyone seems to drive a big SUV or pickup, often only with one passenger. I’m really shocked by Keurig coffee machines, how incredibly wasteful! The world would just be a better place without Keurig, disposable plastic bags at the market, and television.

I have met wonderful and generous people as well, but sincerity is a commodity I find elusive. All my friends tell me “but you’re in New York” implying that New York is just an unfriendly place, I just don’t know. I’m not casting judgements, nor pointing fingers, just observing.

I don’t really know why my path has lead me here, I know it’s not just for the boat. I have been away from my wife for too long now, along with the sea, sun, and reef. This weighs heavy on my soul.

My family in Maryland had been reaching out to me, along with my family in Atlanta. These are ties I must nurture and maintain, I have let them go far too slack. I will take a bus from Manhattan to Maryland tomorrow. Then thanks to my pilot friend who is generous with his buddy passes I’ll fly to Atlanta for a few days, then to Florida where I will spend Christmas with my brother in law and family, father in law, and Carla.

I’m so looking forward to returning to Splendid and Panama. I can’t wait to return to my apnea training and free-diving on the reef. I know many people look to me for guidance in helping them unplug and live their dreams. But the truth is I need guidance now. I’ve ventured far from home and find myself alone with six inches of snow on the deck missing my wife every moment, I’m happy to see her soon.

Why is it when I think of sailing Eleanor to Panama “escape” is a word that comes to mind? I need Insurance, towing insurance, and I’m reading that Florida and other east-coast states are once again making a push to limit boaters’ federal rights to anchor. Obviously they want to force boaters onto moorings, and into marinas. They call it “safety” efforts. Perhaps the complacent will swallow that, but I don’t. I don’t like feeling like a rat in a maze having to purchase all these things just to live and travel. Life here has become far to complicated here. One must even pay for water to drink. I’ve been drinking the tap water which is poisoned with chlorine and fluoride, have we lost all sense of human rights?

Local governments wants to control how far we can anchor from a private beach so not to interfere with some people’s view, how close we can anchor to boat ramps, and how many days we can spend in a certain location. The truth is we have a federal right to anchor in federal water for as long as we please. This is called “Freedom”, and no agency should be “monitoring” or governing my Freedom! The following link is a survey you may want to take?

In the video introduction I find it amusing that they keep referring to federal water as “State” water, which it is not, nor will it become no matter how much they repeat it. And in the survey they give you choices of which none have to do with allowing the federal government control the federal water. State law or city ordnance can not supersede federal law now can it?

For any of you that have been reading me for any length of time you will know I don’t like marinas and moorings. Despite the fact they are expensive, they are dangerous. I have broken and damaged my boat more in the past two months at marinas, and on moorings than I have in the past 7 years living on the hook.

The short scope of a mooring is hard on the boat in heavy weather. At one point the chain on my mooring become a solid rod, and the shock tore my hawse pipes while trying to rip my cleats out. Not to mention that moorings foul the ground and steal space from anchoring sailors. I also don’t like strange moorings because I have no idea how they are constructed, or what is on the bottom. The thing that I find most terrible is that when you are forced onto a mooring or into a Marina, they make you sign a document releasing them of any sort of liability, this is criminal!

Yes, I do have a mooring in Panama but it is in a place one can not anchor, nor is it possible to have any waves where I am as I’m protected 360 degrees from any sort of fetch.

The slip I was just at was too shallow for Eleanor. At low-tide I had about 3′ of water where I need a minimum of 6′. The protection at the marina is also not very good and I broke a dock line from wind and wave, at anchor the boat naturally points into the weather. My rudder was also bouncing on the bottom at low tide. If I had a spade hung rudder as opposed to Elenor’s skeg hung rudder I’d be very concerned as spade hung rudders are very delicate.

In all my time anchoring I’ve never sustained any damage. The key is having proper gear and ground tackle. I have an 80lb Manson supreme on Splendid with 300′ of 3/8 bbb chain, and a Lofrans falkon windlass. This gear will be transferred to Eleanor upon my arrival in Panama if I can ever get there.

Eleanor is safely on the hard once again. She will wait here for me when I return in the late winter. The roller furling is frozen up, I believe it needs new bearings. I also need to fit the windvane, fix the bow roller, and have a few other projects before making way for Panama.

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays with their families.


Sail far and live slowly.

– alex

Published in Alex Dorsey
Updated: November 28, 2014 — 20:53


  1. Those of us who dont easily fit a pigeonhole or a label are just not understood by the system; and occasionally resented or suspected. Don’t doubt your path, press on. It will never be easy but it will always be worth it. In the words of Robert Aitken Roshi “The system stinks.”

    1. The system does stink, not to mention evil!

      I know I walk my path, I just don’t always like it, especially when it’s cold, dark, and far from my Bonnie-lass!

  2. Just a small point… I believe your quote, “All who are wounded are not lost” is actually “[Not] All those who wander are lost.”
    All that is gold does not glitter,
    Not all those who wander are lost;
    The old that is strong does not wither,
    Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
    From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
    A light from the shadows shall spring;
    Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
    The crownless again shall be king.Lord on the Rings/Fellowship of the Ring/Chapter 10, “Strider”

    1. Yup, I missed that one during my quick proof :(

  3. Ever since we came back ashore to spawn I have felt the “boiling frog” effect of living on land begin to claim us. I’m still looking to you guys for inspiration as folks who reached escape velocity and loosed the surly bonds of snivilization. HopefullY we can find that groove too when we hit the water again in a few weeks. In some ways I was a bit dissapointed to see you guys buying the new boat – it seemed like classic 2foot itis at work, but I also know what it is like to yearn for a particular craft, that seems especially suited to a dream.

    Perhaps we will cross paths next spring when Sea Munchkin crosses the gulf stream. Heres hoping, one always looks forward to meeting those who inspire them.

    1. Buying Eleanor had nothing to do with 2footitice, it has to do with construction and more rugged travel plans. My hull is my insurance if you know what I mean. Eleanor is smaller in most ways then splendid, especially with the storm stern.

  4. Carla just posted a new blog, after reading it I know why I married her :)

    1. Didn’t mean to nitpick but it’s my favorite quote :) I see you’re in New York. If you get up to Albany and want a free lunch, place to stay, get in touch, that’s where I live, though my boat’s in Baltimore at one of those marinas.

  5. Alex, you wrote: “I don’t really know why my path has lead me here, I know it’s not just for the boat.”
    I believe you have been given the gift of being a pathfinder for others who just need a little nudge to get on their own path to personal freedom via the sea. Your tribulations are for a specific purpose. First, you are one of the rare people who can overcome them. Most people cant. Like the broken man drinking on his houseboat. And because you CAN overcome them, and communicate the lessons of those tribulations so effectively to others, those tribulations come to you as a gift for others. You are the vessel through which these lessons are illuminated because you can bear it all and relate it all so clearly. At least that is what you have been for me. View your tribulations not through the lens of “why me?” but as the great gift to others that they are. If you were weak you’d never be given the opportunity to help so many people. With great gifts come great responsibility my friend.

    1. Paul, thanks for the kind words. I do like to forge new paths :)

      I’m talking to a buddy of mine who has really nice chart making software as I’d like to actually chart some uncharted territories i visit.

      it has been a rough few months but I’m soooo happy to have it done. I still cant believe we have a westsail 42, with a new engine !!!!


  6. Hey there Alex…

    I’ve been crazy busy with a new start up business so I now took a few minutes to catch up on some reading. Very nice post. Glad you’re heading south for the winter months. It must have been a chilly experience. I’m not good with cold anymore.

    So drop me a note while you’re in Florida. Not sure which part you’re going to be in, but if we can make it happen, we can get our knees under the same table again and shoot the poop over coffee or tea.

    It’s been a bit chilly here too in SWFL. It took me a week to find some long pants, and I do have a pair, but the lost is found and my knees have been covered off and on. Strange feeling, but they do cut the breeze.

    So travel safe. Give Carla our best and stay in touch. Thanks again for all you do.

    Capt. Paul
    s/v Panacea

    1. Paul, for sure, its been too long.

      we are off to Florida on Monday and will be there through the holidays. I may go to Panama before New Years because I just miss home so much!!!

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