Why Do They "Just Do
is the purpose of voyaging? Why does one put up with all the
inconveniences of small sailboat living? Are we seeking adventure or
are we all masochist? Escaping from someone or something? I
discovered that there are many fine sailor/authors who gave some very
compelling and varied reasons why they do it. Each of us I assume
must also share at least part of some of those feelings. So on this
page I would like to thank the writers for their inspiring thoughts
and to share some of their writings with you.
I hope you will also share some of those that you
have discovered too. Just e-mail
them to me.
- Money is not the only thing one has to spend; the other thing is life. The difference is that you never know how much is in the bank, or what your balance is. Your life is your inheritance. As soon as you realize this, you start trying to spend your life wisely.
Herb Payson, from book"Advice to the Sealorn".Skipper
- In an age when mass society has rendered obsolete the qualities of individual courage and independent thought, the oceans of the world still remain, vast and uncluttered, beautiful but unforgiving, awaiting those who will not submit. Their voyages are not an escape, but a fulfillment.
The Slocum Society
- Sailing without an engine requires a philosophy of acceptance and then it becomes very enjoyable. At
some point you must stop lamenting what you don't have and enjoy what you do have, wind and sail.
John Kretschmer, Yacht Delivery Skipper
- Some people look upon cruising as a life of idleness or a life of 'nots'; not shoveling snow, not participating in the rat race, not paying taxes or voting, not conforming to schedules. But for other sailors, such as Helmut and Irene cruising is doing something meaningful, generous, creative and compassionate. It's bringing something to those they visit instead of taking away the little that they may have.
Pat McGehee refering to Helmut Mayr and Irene von Richthofen of 'Edelweiss' (a Gold Coast 44 catamaran) in the San Blas Islands of Panama.
- Why attempt to drag five other misguided men halfway across the world when it is obvious that most of our present-day troubles come from men not staying quietly in their room at home? But upon visiting Mischief to see how things are going, such weak thoughts are speedily banished. She and her kind were never built so that men should stay quietly at home. She breathes sturdy eager confidence, a living embodiment of the truth that the sea is for sailing, that strenuousness is the immortal path and sloth the way of death!
W.H.Tillman :From his Sailing/Mountain Exploration Books.
- I decided to go back on the water. It was the only place I knew for certain I would have to deal with things as they arose, without evasion or quibbling or self-hypnosis. Life on the water is not easy, but it is rarely ambiguous.
The water life permits us the luxury of certain illusions, and
denies others. There is no deceiving of the waves, there is no
persuading the winds. Deviousness, on the water, is unthought of, because it is non-survival. On the water you either know, or you do not know, and the difference is plain to everyone. I think this is why we tend to be rather simple in our outlook; with the water rats, what you see is pretty much what you get.
By and large, those who have chosen to live this life seem to have adopted as their banner the wisdom of America's greatest sailor, Popeye. It may even be specially appropriate that he, himself, is merely a cartoon, an imagination, a figment.
Popeye's wisdom is, "I yam what I
That's the way it is with most of us. That's
why we're here. And -- of course -- every day the tide comes in,
the tide goes out. Don't forget.
Don Berry: " Magic Harbor" (published on the
- For the truth is that I already know as much
about my fate as I need to know. The day will come when I will
die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do
with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear,
or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.
Richard Bode: "First You Have To Row A
- Twenty years from now you will be more
disappointed in the things that you didn't do than in the ones you
did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe
harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.
- My competition is with myself and the water planet: Sailing a Laser, you hang suspended with one hand in the ocean (tiller) and the other hand connected to the sky (mainsheet). You are the pivot point between these two great fluids, the two worlds, and you get to go along for the ride.
Dennis Olson, Tomales Bay
- A whim, once watered with imagination, becomes
a dream and the best time to take your first step toward a dream
is always yesterday; the worst time: tomorrow. Our best compromise
- It's paradoxical that the idea of living a
long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn't
appeal to anyone.
- Time is the ultimate currency. We may talk in
terms of dollars but ultimately we trade in hours. By that
measure, life is better. Much better.
- There are two options in a person's life.
Reflections and Actions. One is an opportunity to think about it, the other opportunity to live it.
- The greatest thing in this world is not so
much where we stand as in what direction we are moving. To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes, with the wind and sometimes against it. But we must sail and not drift nor lie at anchor.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
- It is important to measure ones' own courage
and master one's fear....to do something more in this life than
that which is wise, prudent or necessary.
- If I must sit down at nature's table, I first
must accept that seafaring is a hearty menu offering high
adventure, great sport, aesthetic delights and achievements. It is
a sailor's banquet spiced by pinches of uncertainty and flavored
with dashes of hazard. Those who would be gourmets of adventures
are tasters of the sauce of life. They agreed that without the
ingredients of uncertainty and hazard, living would be mush,
crackers and water.
Rudy Choy: "Catamaran
- To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a
life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest.
Otherwise you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to
yachtsman, who play with their boats at sea -- "cruising", it is
called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the
world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a
voyage and have the means, abandon the venture until your fortune
change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.
"I've always wanted to sail to the South Seas,
but I can't afford it". What these men can't afford is not to go.
They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of "security". And
in the worship of security. We fling our lives beneath the wheels
of routine -- and some form of working activity that yield a sense
of accomplishment. That's all -- in a material sense, and we know
it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up
in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages,
preposterous gadgetry, and playthings that divert our attention
from the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow
dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience.
Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.
Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which
shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?
- Seek not the meaning of life as life does not have meaning but a purpose. Life in every form has a purpose, the bird, plant, worm, sun, human etc. Each in its own way. Finding and realising the true purpose and fulfilling it will lead us to our greatest contentment in life.
To just seek for the meaning or the little pleasures of life leads us to the merry-go-round of life itself and into the cycle of life and death.
- Travel's greatest purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.
- I have come to believe the key to traveling is
not in taking in the countryside like we take in a movie -- as a
higher form of entertainment or even self-improvement. It lies
instead in releasing yourself fully to inhabit the space you're in
to the best of your ability --- in opening your heart to loving
everything you see, so the more you see, then you are
expanded.....for we voyage to see and then remember not just the
ocean things but the land also, and the people we encounter along
the way. For we see both the land and the people through a fresh
lens when we meet them sailing. That experience, more than miles
covered, makes us travelers.
Larry Brown: "Sailing
- A sailboat cruise is a singularly impractical
means of getting somewhere. The "rooms" are small, the "ceilings"
low, the "yard" is an obstacle course of rigging, winches.....Even
on the best of days, the time is always slow, the way always
long.....But the essence of sailing is not the adoration of an
inanimate object but the spiritual awakening of the man or woman
who steers it.....The sailor is alone.....the sailor trespasses in
an environment for which he is poorly equipped: He swims not much
better than a dog......Living on a boat for an extended period is
an ascetic exercise in which the comforts of hot showers,
three-course meals and twenty-four-hour contact with the world is
forsaken.....the acquisition of material goods -- man's first
addiction -- is a credo rejected. Convention is a God forsworn. It
is a good way to do penance for one's excesses.
Daniel Spurr: "Steered By The Falling
- Why would anybody in their right mind want to
do this, this cruising? Why risk life and limb to see the world
from the deck of a small boat? A sailboat is a high risk and
extremely slow conveyence at best. There is a simple answer to
this. . .because. Because we can and because we must. Cruisers are
not content to simply stay in one place, ... As pelagic nomads,
cruisers choose to go through the everyday motions of existence in
different places. Why awake to the same dawn every day in New
York, Atlanta, Newport, or Peoria when we have the opportunity to
see the sun rise from Istanbul, Sydney, Mazatlan, or Tahiti? ...We
endeavour to savor each and every nuance of the local culture,
good or bad, we seek the total experience. It enriches us, it
gladdens our hearts and gives us worthy memories.
Stephen J. Pavlidis: " Bahama Blues" (soon
to be published)
While I'm on this soap box one final thought: Anyone who choses the cruising lifestyle is leading a much more environmentally friendly existence than those bound by the land. In terms of energy consumed, water used, sewage created, space taken - any standard you can think of, those individuals that live aboard have a minuscule impact on our biosphere as compared to the folks who live on land.
So, if you are concerned with the future of the planet, sell your cars, get rid of the house, and...go cruising!
If things in general weren't going the way I wanted, I questioned my motives - not the situation....
The most simple and straightforward decisions in life are sometimes the toughest to initiate. And anything is possible if you want it bad enough.
- ...Travel is not a vacation, and it is often
the opposite of a rest...I craved a little risk, some danger, an
toward event, a vivid discomfort, an experience of my own company,
and in a modest way the romance of solitude.
Paul Theroux: "The Old patagonia
- Once a journey is designed, equiped, and put
in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari,
an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys.
It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A
journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans,
safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after
years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes
- John Steinbeck: "Travels with
- Houses are but badly built boats. So firmly
aground that you can not think of moving them. They are definitely
inferior things, belonging to the vegetable - not animal world,
rooted and stationary incapable of transition. The desire to build
a house is the tired wish of a man content hence forward with a
single anchorage. The desire to build a boat is the desire of
youth, unwilling yet to accept the idea of a final resting
It is for that reason, perhaps, that, when it
comes, the desire to build a boat is one of those that cannot be
resisted. It begins as a little cloud on a serene horizon. It ends
by covering the whole sky, so that you can think of nothing else.
You must build to regain your freedom. And always you comfort
yourself with the thought that yours will be the perfect boat, the
boat that you may search the harbors of the world for and not
Arthur Ransome: "Racundra's First
- I would rather be ashes than dust! I would
rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it
should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor,
every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent
planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I
shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my
- Jack London
- It cost so much to be a full human
being....One has to abandon altogether the search for security,
and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to
embrace the world like a lover, and yet demand no easy return of love. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.
The points of destination are only worth seeking out because of the journey required to reach them. Wherever I may be, if
I were told to stay there, even paradise would become hell to me. The thought of having to leave somewhere touches me
and endears it to me. And so it is that each time I bury a dream, so quickly forgotten, only to yearn for a new one.
- Morris West: "The Shoe of the
- Bogdan Szafraniec
What Better Time Than Now?:
Why a young couple decide to go cruising now than later.
Realizing Your Dream About Sailboat Cruising by Jack and Sandy Mooney. Challenger 32 "Utopia".
Cruising Blues and Their Cure
Robert Pirsig offers some insights and suggest a cure.
Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic
vision. We see ourselves an a long trip that spans the continent. We
are travelling by train. Out the windows we drink in the passing
scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing,
of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a
power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and
valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and
But uppermost in our minds is the final
destination. On a certain day at a certain hour: we will pull into
the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get
there, so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our
lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How
restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes of loitering --
waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
"When we reach the station, that will be it!" we
cry, "When I'm 18," "When I buy a new 450 SL Mercedes Benz!" "When I
put the last kid through college" "When I have paid off the mortgage!
"When I get a promotion" "When I reach the age of retirement, I shall
live happily ever after!"
Sooner or later, we must realise there is no
station, no one place to arrive at once and for all, The true joy of
life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly
"Relish the moment" is a good motto. It isn't the
burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday
and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us
So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles.
Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more
often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less.
Life must be lived as we go along.
The station will come soon enough.
"More dreams have been assassinated by guilt than ever were ended by waking up. The dream of freedom is a yearning towards growth, a need for self-knowledge, not an escape from some half seen, half felt bogeyman. We all have a need, mostly unsatisfied and rarely spoken, to measure ourselves against nature as we were meant to do. To see how far our muscles and our breath and our unaided minds can take us. In a culture that lets us do little for ourselves we have this curious and hidden need to make our way to paradise on our own two feet. Being carried to paradise on a palanquin was, I am sure, as unsatisfying as being carried there on a jet. To sleep away your passage in silk draped sloth, or to murder space in a turbine's roar, gives us no measure of ourselves and the measure of self is the meaning of life.
The reality of going to sea is a matter of casting aside all that negates your life, the vague imponderables that anchor you to some unknowable future.
The passage to reality is littered with sailors stranded on the shoals of their expectations. It is difficult to wrench your world around to allow you freedom. And it is disastrous to have pie-in-the-sky expectations of what freedom will be like. The far shores of sailing are dotted with the abandoned boats and dreams of sailors who finally made it out there but found that all was not beam reaching and glorious sunsets. Sailing is hard, perhaps its chief attraction. On a long passage you either recast your expectations into something closer to the uncomfortable reality that you are experiencing or you will spend those weeks in disappointment, awaiting only the end of the passage to flee ashore.
Only in a small sailboat at sea are we reminded of our natural place in the universe. The sea forces upon us a natural scale. The sea limits one day's passage to a hundred miles, not too different from the scale used by the ancient Hebrews to measure the throne of God. Small boat sailors parse the structures of the sea in days and weeks and months, not flashing minutes as the land bound do. They have recaptured nature's pendulum. The rhythms and stress of the sea are the ancient imbedded memories of how our bodies want things to be. We sailors press more life into the years we are granted. And, because sailing is unstressing, we are granted more time in which to live. "Old sailors" is a cliche not without content. On the earth we no longer have any subduing measure of greatness. Land has been smoothed for our wheels, and the air above is furrowed by the flashing passage of our jets. Space and time‚ ..these gifts can best be savored from the deck of a cockleshell sailboat. A sailor's whole universe is only a circle with a three-mile radius, the distance his eyes can see to the horizon from sea level. It takes more than an hour of real time to sail from edge to edge of that tiny circle while, in the same sixty minutes, a jet ranges six hundred unfeeling miles. Passing through time and space in the sailor's small and personal world it the measure of natural coil‚ ...and we live better for it.
On land, companionship is thrust upon us, forcing us to be social long after we have had our fill of society. It is little wonder that we become cynics and come to hate our neighbors. And that is too bad, for beyond the companionship of our neighbors, and for some lucky few, the companionship of their God, we are quite alone in the universe. Only by seeking separation from the human herd can you become lovingly close to it. Just one more gift of paradox of which the sea is blessedly rich."
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