I’m so tired. My sore eyes squint against the wind flowing over the deck. I’m surrounded by complete darkness. I do my routine eye scan – wind instruments, sails, horizon, and back. I’m alone on a night watch. Freedom! Or at least the illusion of it, tinged with fear and slight sea sickness. It’s exhilarating. I feel so alive, buzzing along with the boat. Shiloh and I are sailing and it’s bliss. Moments like this I’m in awe that this is my life.
Somehow at 46 I am not working a 9 to 5; I have no mortgage, no car payments, no debt at all. I don’t reside in any one place. It’s a great leap from the norm. But it’s what I wanted.
People ask questions. How? Why? What is it really like to live your dream?
DREAM – we all have loosely concocted dreams. Mine began with the desire to travel the world. But to make it come true, you must really want it and dedicate time and energy into shaping it into something to strive toward. It’s not enough to imagine lying in a hammock under a palm tree.
CHOOSE – it’s important but not always obvious – you need to choose to pursue a dream. Choosing one thing means rejecting others. I wanted a life at sea. I had to abandon stability, a house, a car. Facing those hard choices, it becomes much more real.
PLAN/SACRIFICE – you have to save money. It means living without designer clothes, fancy restaurants. It means eliminating all debt. For me, living in Ghana, working for a company that provided housing, vehicle, etc. it was an easy step. We owned basically nothing.
We calculated the number of years left for our kids at school and planned to sail away when the youngest was off to university. We saved for schooling for each, and every penny after that would be set aside for the boat. Once we had a boat we’d be saving for a life aboard. It was work, but for years the excitement of the plan taking shape was bubbling just under the surface for us.
We decided to make a leap five years before we’d be ready to sail—we chose a boat. We paid for it at once. This was a massive step toward keeping sight of our dream/goal. We couldn’t back out now! We decided to put it into a charter fleet for five years while we continued working.
LET GO – of the known. Of the false security that we all cling to. Buying the boat was the first stomach churning act of letting go for us. We knew next to nothing about the boat itself, the charter industry, or the company we’d left her with. But we needed to trust in the universe.
The day we left our jobs was another leap into the unknown. But it was so exciting! We moved aboard Shiloh on the dock of the charter company and spent weeks getting her ready to sail. It was a particularly rough moving dock and she bounced around terribly. We were both sea sic
k daily, finding ourselves sitting in the club house, quite green, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into.
We had to LET GO of things. Boxes arrived from Africa for us. We sat on the dock and sorted through it all, discarding the majority. The reality of life on a boat is that you can’t have oodles of stuff. It doesn’t fit, it makes the boat heavy, it gets moldy. It has to go. And storage facilities? In my opinion if you’ve lived without something for six months, you don’t need it. They are a waste of money – a debt you don’t need – and a waste of space.
LET GO of fear. It took me quite a while to release the fears I had about what could happen out on the sea. I have never been a sailor. Had never been on a boat, in fact, and there were so many unknowns! But in time I mastered enough skills, became familiar with the boat, and realized the best defense against the many dangers is calm. Do not panic. Fear must be left behind.
LET GO of the ‘culture of busy’. Leaving behind the corporate world’s perception that you must be busy all day is difficult at first. Life on a boat is not lived to a schedule. You may need to be awake all night during a storm, so you take the down-time when you can, even if it’s in the middle of a weekday.
Simply LET GO.
Every time we leave the relative security of an anchorage, sails up, the ocean beckoning with an unknown strength, both terrifying and enticing, we are trusting in the universe to carry us along on this dream.
Written by Holli Holdsworth