Alex has kindly invited me to join Project Bluesphere to share my story and the adventure that lies ahead. I couldn’t be more excited. He has asked to me to start with a bit of an introduction. I enjoy writing, and this is my first time writing for an audience, so forgive my long-windedness…
My name is Ryan James Bradfield. I’m thirty years old and a Texan through and through. However, I’m a bit different than most folks my age. I fish and hunt, but enjoy opera. I have an iPod, but it’s loaded with Bach and Brahms. I would rather spend my time reading or exercising than wasting away in front of a TV. In fact, I can proudly say I don’t even own a TV.
And now I’ve decided to leave the rat race and go sailing. When I tell people about this, the most common response is “of course that is something you’d do Ryan. I’m not even surprised.” I’ve been told I’m a bit odd for someone my age. I don’t know. I’ll let you be the judge.
Many moons ago, after graduating high school, I set off to do what every other high school graduate gets brainwashed to do – take out loans and go to college. I drifted around from major to major, but eventually landed on Music – Bach’s music in particular. It completely changed my life. At the time I was studying philosophy with the intent of going to law school, but music took a very strong hold. I dropped everything in the pursuit of it. I began studying the pipe organ and harpsichord. I learned German. I went to Europe twice and played some of the antique organs abroad. One of them Brahms himself played! Within two years, I went from being unable to read music, to graduating at the top of my class. I think pursuing a passion of any kind rewires the brain.
Shortly after graduating in 2009, I found myself with a mountain of debt, no marketable skills, and a nice bland cubicle job. Anticlimactic, right? A couple of months into middle-class purgatory, a friend of mine mentioned the words “bluewater cruising”. He told me about a few blogs to check out. It was like a lightbulb flicked on. I read and read, then read some more about it. The thought of getting out of the hustle and bustle of society appealed to me so much. Coincidentally, I had just finished reading Walden. I can’t say why I didn’t pursue it further then, but the idea ended up on the backburner. Complacency in growing salaries I guess.
A couple of years went by. I rekindled an old flame from high school, got engaged, bought a house, got laid off, ended said engagement, and got a new job. Yeah. A lot has happened in the last two years.
Sometime in 2014, the same friend mentioned above called me out of the blue one day. He mentioned a mutual acquaintance, Nate Niehuus (www.thenomadtrip.com). I worked with Nate at a small software development company back in 2013. Shortly thereafter, he sold it all and bought a catamaran in Panama. He was doing it. He was pursuing the Dream. This completely reignited my interest in leaving.
So I started reading again. I read every blog, forum, and book I could get my hands on. Then one day, Nate posted a blog about his neighbor in Puerto Lindo, Alex Dorsey. He seemed like a cool guy, so I checked out his blog too. My first thought was, “damn, this guy gets it.” So, I took the plunge and started from post number one. Over the course of three months, I read Alex’s entire story. Not only his journey, but his philosophy appealed to me. Living minimally, living simply, and travelling far.
My wanderlust has always been really strong, and this could finally be a new direction to take my life. I have no desire to pursue a “career”, a wife, a family, a big house, or a 401(k). None of that is for me. I want to live my life now; not when I’m in my sixties.
As many of you have probably read, in November 2014 I joined Alex in Nyack, New York to help him begin the southbound trip with Eleanor. The weather was cold – very cold. And Alex was completely exhausted from months of nonstop work on Eleanor. So we decided to pull the plug and haul the boat out for the winter. Though things didn’t turn out as planned, I achieved two things on this trip – 1) I gained an invaluable friend, and 2) the trip solidified my decision to get my own boat.
Upon my return, I made an offer on a Westsail 28, Zosha. She was in pristine condition, but she was already claimed by another. A few weeks later, Alex sent me a link to a Craigslist ad for a Westsail 32 in Long Beach, California. Her price couldn’t be beat, so I contacted the owner and flew out to California that weekend. I instantly fell in love with Lorilee…
I think I’ve written enough here, but I will have some more writing about the adventure of bringing my Lorilee to Texas, and will continue to write about her restoration project. Thank you for welcoming me to Project Bluesphere. I hope I can inspire and educate others, as Alex has done for me.