My dreams of sailing date back to 1979 when I was stationed on the USS Oklahoma City, and we traveled down to Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, and the Philippines from our home-port in Japan. I can still picture one particular night and the soft sultry air as we passed unlit islands with home built fishing craft bobbing after fish nets set in the currents. I remember the stars, and the mast of the ship arcing back and forth between the constellations of the northern hemisphere, and the Southern Cross, which I had never seen before. I remember wishing I could come that way again on my own time, on my own boat, with my own purposes.
On that trip I remember the people, and the cities, and the villages, and the sights and sounds and smells of life before GPS and cell phones. I didn’t know it then, but those islands, and those people were on the cusp of tremendous change, and the world I saw then I fear is mostly gone. I hope to one day find out if there are remnants of that time I saw.
I thought I had to be rich to accomplish my dreams, and I wasn’t. Even worse, my family wasn’t, and apparently we didn’t know how to get rich either. I spent twenty years working, and conniving, and chasing after every scheme that was presented to me. I may have made someone some money, but it wasn’t me.
I was washed up, divorced, overweight, and uninspired when Sherlene found me. The dream was just a glimmer that I still read about in the books and magazines I consumed by the dozens.
She had been through a lot too, even worse than me in a lot of ways. Her dreams of a normal life with children and family and a meaningful career hadn’t panned out either. We needed each other. First, she leaned on me, and then I leaned on her, and eventually we began to work together to build a new life. Just setting up a functioning household that paid our bills was our first victory. Eventually we went out on the road, truck driving across the nation as a team. Shouting “WE’RE DEBT FREE” into the road wind one day taught us that we could do some extraordinary things if we wanted to.
It’s hard to say when the dream came back to the forefront. We are both dreamers and adventurers, and we each talked about ours. She wants to build a straw bale house, and I told her about my dream of sailing. Sherlene adopted mine. I will give her that straw bale house one day, but she very much wants to go sailing with me. She wants to see me accomplish this one thing that I have thought about for all of my adult life.
I will love her forever for that.
It turns out we don’t have to be rich to sail. We have to be willing to work hard when we work, and we have to adjust our thinking as to what we think we need to live a pleasant fulfilled life. We don’t need a big boat. We certainly don’t need a fancy one. We need a solid little boat that is just as tenacious as we are about getting to where we want to go. It’s almost guaranteed that your car costs more than our boat will. We need to let go of the expectations of others. We need to let go of fear, and step out in faith.
The people that have been out there doing what we want to do, (some of them started about the time I was sailing through the southern seas for my first time), have a saying: “Go small, go simple, go now.”
When your life is big and complex, and you are strapped to it by debt, the expectations of others, and a thousand other things, it is hard to do.
But we are trying, and we are excited about the start.