Feeding the Soul

I usually get one of four responses when I tell someone that I sold everything, bought a sailboat, and now live on the ocean full-time. “You’re crazy!”, “Nice, a permanent vacation!”, “I’ve always dreamed of doing that”, or “Why?” The response I dread the most is “why?” Not because I don’t want to explain but because putting to words what your soul is demanding is not easy.

I was born and raised on the ocean in Alaska. My early years were spent as a commercial fisherman working for my grandfather where I learned what it means to live on a boat and work hard. I always had boats. Beginning from a small wooden sailboat (that I put an outboard on and never sailed) that my grandfather and I built as a middle school project and various speedboats and small weekend liveaboards. Being on the ocean was where I felt most at home.

Fast forward to adult life where work took me far away from my Alaskan waters. I was married to my best friend, great job, nice home, vacations, planning for the future, and living the moments. I really couldn’t imagine life being better.

In a blink of an eye, my wife lost her life in an accident. I was suddenly completely, hopelessly lost in life for years after. The sudden realization of just how finite our existence is hit home like a punch in the gut. Obviously, this event changed me in very profound ways. I started having zero patience for anyone that wasted time (mine or theirs). Materialism became a billboard for foolishness, politics a great deception to the people, and seconds more precious than gold. I knew something had to change but I just didn’t know what.

I did my best to immerse myself in work and that soon became a race to amass stuff. The more stuff I had the happier I thought I would be. In actuality, each possession became an added burden to my psyche, a psyche already at its limit.

Three years ago I found myself looking at online boat listings. Nothing more than daydreams but daydreams that were rooted in past experiences that provided an element of reality even if that reality was blanketed in the romanticized past of my youth. I spent three months traveling in Colombia and Peru and found myself at ease in the slower life of living out of a backpack. I thought about losing myself in this new culture but gave in to the pull of life back “home.”

After a year of opening a new business, living in an apartment in the city, watching friends be consumed by materialism, and the never ending barrage of political hate, I had enough. I sold and gave away everything, purchased Sabado and moved onboard. To say I didn’t have a plan would be generous. Not only did I not have a plan, I hadn’t even started thinking about a plan beyond just getting out.

You know what? It’s all turned out great! Sure, there have been stumbles and the learning curve has been steeper than what I expected. Maintenance is never ending, the weather not as predictable as the meteorologists will have you believe, and I miss friends but the happiness I have here is happiness like I haven’t felt in years.

How long will this journey last? When I began, I believed Sabado and I would be sailing for up to five years but I’m not putting any timeline on this trip. I’ll continue sailing until it no longer feeds my soul. I’m going to do my best to write about my experience and share not only those writings but also provide the opportunity for others to join me. I’ve found that shared experiences with like minded people add exponentially to the adventure and I’m looking forward to that.

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