The Minimalist Sailor

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Tropical Storm Bill approaches.

 

Well hurricane season is definitely here.  It feels too early to be worried about a named storm, but as I write this, “Tropical Storm Bill” is bearing down on us, and many of it’s projected paths have it heading straight for Rockport – where Lorilee is on the hard.    In any case, I prepared the boat as much as I could before I left the yard yesterday, tightening everything down, clearing the decks, and checking all six of her stands.  Being 200 miles from my boat – my home – with a big storm bearing down on her, is nothing short of feeling helpless.  All I can do at this point is sit and wait…

New Sta-lok terminals for mid-shrouds and bobstay

New Sta-lok terminals for mid-shrouds and bobstay

Dodging thunderstorms all weekend, I managed to get a lot done.  All of the blisters are filled and waiting to be faired, the cabin trim and headboards are almost done (termite damage project), and a myriad of other odds and ends.  With new halyards, mid-shrouds, and VHF coaxial, the mast is officially done! (for now).  Depending on the weather, I may be stepping the mast this weekend. She’ll finally be whole again. :)

I know I shouldn’t be complaining, as I aim to live in the Caribbean soon, but damn the heat is getting pretty bad here.  It’s already in the mid-90’s and it’s not even July yet.  Even the yard mutt can be seen napping in the shade during the midday sun.  Working shirtless and tanned with a wet rag tied around my head, I felt much like Tom Hanks in Castaway – except my “Wilson” is a 26,000 pound boat.

On a more somber note – as I near the end of this long stint in the yard, a nagging anxiety grows within.  I am intensely excited about launching Lorilee, but I can’t help feel a sense of nervousness.  It’s that same kind of feeling one gets before starting a new job, or buying a house, or any other major life decision.  These last six months, I have taken my first steps down a seldom-trodden path, and the uncertainty – the unknown – is looming before me.  I think I am more terrified of my own inexperience, rather than the “out there”.  Hell, I’m more scared of docking Lorilee in a marina than crossing an ocean.  She’s a lot of boat to handle!

But then I slap myself across the face and say – SNAP OUT OF IT.  Fear is for those who spend their entire lives in a cushy job with a 401k and premium dental insurance.  Fear is for the poor saps who choose to sit in traffic for countless hours, all with the loose promise of “retirement”.  That’s not me.  That’s not why I chose to do this.  Sorry if it feels like I’m beating a dead horse on this matter, but I repeat myself for me.  I have to keep this in mind for the next two years whilst I prepare.

My Dad has said something to me before and it means the world to me.  He said that when I put my mind to something, I get it done, and I certainly don’t half-ass anything.   I taught myself how to play the pipe organ. I reinvented myself when I had to enter the job market.  I have been weight training and eating clean for three years now, and at 30 years old, I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve worked my way up to “engineer” – with a music degree. But, now my sights are set on getting out, and I will stop at nothing to attain it.  Even if it means hurricanes and crashing into docks.

When I was in St. Thomas last year, I sauntered into a local beach bar and struck up a conversation with the cute bartender.  I tended bar in college and thoroughly enjoyed it, so we had some common ground.   I asked her what made her pack up and move down island.  She responded with pretty much the same reasons that I have mentioned before – the nine to five, traffic, “careers”.  All of it nonsense.   She also told me something that rather fueled the fire to go voyaging.  The idea had already been stewing in my head for a few months, but this little story really resonated with me.  These are in my own words, but it went something like this:

An American tourist was vacationing down island and found a beautiful little spot on the beach. While he was there sipping a cocktail, he watched a local fisherman come ashore in his quaint little rowboat with quite a nice catch.

Impressed by the fisherman’s haul, the tourist said, “Wow. Those are some nice looking fish. How long did it take you catch them?”

To which the fisherman replied, “Only a short while, my friend.”

The tourist said, “Why don’t you fish longer so you catch more fish?”

The fisherman humbly replied, “This is all I need to feed my family, my friend.”

“So what do you do with the rest of your day?” asked the tourist.

“Oh I sleep late, play with my children, fish a little, take a siesta with my wife, and then when evening comes, I join my friends in the village, sip wine, and play guitar.”

The tourist, with all of his infinite investment knowledge, tries to offer the fisherman some hearty American advice.  “Why don’t you catch more fish and sell what you don’t need for your family? With the extra money, in time, you could buy a bigger boat, and hire a crew to fish for you.  After some more time, you could buy several boats and hire several crews.  You could even start a business and export all the fish your company catches!”

“And what happens after all this, my friend?”  inquired the fisherman.

The tourist smugly replied, “After fifteen or twenty years of all your hard work, you can sell the company and retire to live as the king of your household, never working a day again!”

Still confused by the tourist’s words, the fisherman asked again “And what happens after that, my friend?”

“You can sleep late, play with your children, fish all you want, take siestas with your wife, and drink wine in the evenings with your friends!”

The moral of the story is – we can be more with less.  As a modern society, we have surrounded ourselves by hollow possessions, consumed by the illusion that more stuff equates to happiness.  It couldn’t be further from the truth.

Our time is short here on this spinning little ball of water and rock.  It’s time we all make the most of it.

– Ryan

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Updated: June 16, 2015 — 07:30
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