The Minimalist Sailor

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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

img_5962smPeople say many things about Life – “life sucks” or “life is great” or “life is crazy” or “life is short”.   In the last few months, some happenings in my life have rendered me introspective, reflecting on where my life is currently and where it is headed. Last week I attended funeral of my cousin.  He died suddenly in his sleep from a rare disease at the age of twenty-nine.  Tragic.  And today also marks a year since my mom lost her seven-year battle with cancer.  It’s been a very strange year without her.  As my brothers, father, and I write new chapters in our lives, we do so knowing that she’d be incredibly proud of us.

So in this case, I’m inclined to say that Life is short.  I beseech anyone reading this to make the very best of today, because absolutely no one is guaranteed tomorrow.

I turned 32 a few weeks ago, and it’s been over two years since I decided to buy a boat.  I never would have imagined I’d be where I am now, even though I have yet to “cast off the docklines”.  I feel like I’ve learned so much not only about sailing and owning a boat, but about myself and what it is that I want from this Life.

So what do I want from this life? Right now, I don’t have a definitive answer. I do know that my dream of exploring the world, unfettered by bills and alarm clocks, is still very much alive.  With every smashed thumb and turned screw, I take a step towards achieving that dream.  But my perspective has changed somewhat.  It’s not about the sailing, it’s not even specifically about the ocean, but rather about Liberty.  I want the Liberty to be my own boss.  I want to be the manager of my time here.  If I want to spend a week reading or writing, so be it.  Or if I want to spend a week working some odd job, so be it.  I think that’s what true Liberty is.  The ability for one to spend one’s short and finite time here as one pleases.

And I think the end game here is the unabated Pursuit of Happiness.

img_6005Earlier in October, I crewed on a fifty foot yacht in the Harvest Moon Regatta.  This regatta is the largest sailing race in Texas – or maybe even in the Gulf of Mexico.  This year somewhere around 140 boats raced the 150 nautical mile course from Galveston to Port Aransas.  With a stiff breeze on the beam, an almost nonexistent swell, and a crisp near-full moon, we could not have asked for a better sail.  After a short time at the helm, I found myself very well in the “groove” of this boat, leaning her into each oncoming wave.  This very rhythmic motion sends me deep into thought.  At one point in the middle of night, alone in the cockpit, I imagined being aboard Lorilee with nothing but the wind and the whispering music of a moonlit sea; pointing her southeast away from all that I know and into the vast unknown…

After twenty hours and fifteen minutes, we cleared the finish mark in Port Aransas.  We placed first in our fleet and second in the Cruising Class.  The race was sponsored by Bacardi, and on the boat we had a full fridge of frosty adult beverages.  So with Cuba Libra in hand, and live music jamming in the harbor, I was on Cloud Nine.

But something else incredible happened that weekend.  Amidst all the festivity and merriment of the regatta after-party, I met the most amazing girl.  She was crew on another yacht that rafted up four boats down on our dock. For the sake of anonymity I won’t disclose her name, but I can say with earnest that I’ve never met another person with whom I am so wholly compatible.  So for the last month, I have taken a much needed reprieve from toiling on the boat to get to know her.  Who knows where this will lead? All I can say for now is that I am stupidly happy. The boat work will pick up again soon, and I will continue to build my sailing skill, but it definitely does not hurt to have some companionship along the way.

There’s a lot of crazy shit going on in the world right now, so we must choose to be happy.  Be the lighthouse in the storm.  Turn off the TV, put down the smartphone, go outside and enjoy life, y’all.  There’s a big world out there begging to be explored. img_5986sm

Full sails, peace and coconuts!

~ Ryan





Published in Ryan Bradfield
Updated: November 16, 2016 — 07:54
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