Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Sailing With Latitude
Sailing on the open seas is at once exhilarating and contemplative. It challenges both your physical and mental capacities. Once you conquer the rolling waves and alternating sensations of claustrophobia and agoraphobia, you find time to explore another openness — of your mind. Your view of life becomes less about survival and more existential.
My open-sea epiphany came and continues something like this. Life should be about the freedom to have choices. Never have I seen a job as a lifetime commitment. I wanted to earn enough money to just do things that interested me. Using my experience in photography, for some time I enjoyed success in the printing industry selling film products. Until technology all but rendered printing and film irrelevant.
It is cliché, but necessity truly is the mother of invention. My education in business finance showed me I didn't need to wait for a pension at 65 to live the dream. I don't use the word dream to describe a wish, but rather what I do. Make a plan; realize an idea. Like sailing all over the world. Meeting other adventurous people. Living among other cultures. Exploring other countries, continents. Why wait?
I became a professional sailor. Chartering, crewing, teaching. The sea, literally, became my “work” and my home. I even met a beautiful Belgium woman, also a sailor. We fell in love, and I docked the boat and my life in Belgium. A few years on we decided to move with her children to California for their college years. Back in the states my now wife and I ran a bed and breakfast in a lighthouse on an island in San Francisco Bay for two years. We loved the unique work and proximity to the ocean, but it did consume more time than we had… for other pleasures, for living our dream.
We packed up and set sail again. This time down the coast to Mexico, living aboard our sailboat for six months. Seeing all the wonderful coastal towns inspired another idea — to have our own home on the coast. For this to make sense financially, we used our new Bodega Bay residence as a base for a vacation house rental business. This plan furthered our ambition to work to live (rather than live to work.)
We’ve since sailed up the coast to Canada, and across the Pacific from Hawaii. All my life we embraced the philosophy to just say “yes.” It is amazing to me all the interesting things people do when they, too, realize opportunities. And when they understood longevity; that growing old is inevitable and unpredictable, and dreams should never be taken for granted. Tomorrow I am having open-heart surgery. I plan on a full recovery and then we’ll set sail to explore the Pacific Northwest. At 67, I’ve enjoyed more than 20 years of what people call retirement. I am glad I started early on saying YES and having a wife who loves the word also. Learning to balance (and sometimes join) work and pleasure has been well worth it. This has been the wealthiest two decades of my life.