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Old 02-04-2012, 22:49   #1
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Why I Sail

Every year of my childhood, I was read to on my birthday. My father always read to me on that day. Oh, my mother read to me too, on other days - a lot until I could read myself. But it was that birthday reading that did it.

It was always the same tale. A tale to stir. And it was years later that I finally understood his point.

Much too long to post it all here, but some of the essence flows from this:
By this time their meal was over, and the Seafarer, refreshed and strengthened, his voice more vibrant, his eye lit with a brightness that seemed caught from some far-away sea-beacon, filled his glass with the red and glowing vintage of the South, and, leaning towards the Water Rat, compelled his gaze and held him, body and soul, while he talked. Those eyes were of the changing foam-streaked grey-green of leaping Northern seas; in the glass shone a hot ruby that seemed the very heart of the South, beating for him who had courage to respond to its pulsation. The twin lights, the shifting grey and the steadfast red, mastered the Water Rat and held him bound, fascinated, powerless. The quiet world outside their rays receded far away and ceased to be. And the talk, the wonderful talk flowed on—or was it speech entirely, or did it pass at times into song—chanty of the sailors weighing the dripping anchor, sonorous hum of the shrouds in a tearing North-Easter, ballad of the fisherman hauling his nets at sundown against an apricot sky, chords of guitar and mandoline from gondola or caique? Did it change into the cry of the wind, plaintive at first, angrily shrill as it freshened, rising to a tearing whistle, sinking to a musical trickle of air from the leech of the bellying sail? All these sounds the spellbound listener seemed to hear, and with them the hungry complaint of the gulls and the sea-mews, the soft thunder of the breaking wave, the cry of the protesting shingle. Back into speech again it passed, and with beating heart he was following the adventures of a dozen seaports, the fights, the escapes, the rallies, the comradeships, the gallant undertakings; or he searched islands for treasure, fished in still lagoons and dozed day-long on warm white sand. Of deep-sea fishings he heard tell, and mighty silver gatherings of the mile-long net; of sudden perils, noise of breakers on a moonless night, or the tall bows of the great liner taking shape overhead through the fog; of the merry home-coming, the headland rounded, the harbour lights opened out; the groups seen dimly on the quay, the cheery hail, the splash of the hawser; the trudge up the steep little street towards the comforting glow of red-curtained windows.

...

"And you, you will come too, young brother; for the days pass, and never return, and the South still waits for you. Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes! 'Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of the old life and into the new! Then some day, some day long hence, jog home here if you will, when the cup has been drained and the play has been played, and sit down by your quiet river with a store of goodly memories for company. You can easily overtake me on the road, for you are young, and I am ageing and go softly. I will linger, and look back; and at last I will surely see you coming, eager and light-hearted, with all the South in your face!"

The voice died away and ceased as an insect's tiny trumpet dwindles swiftly into silence; and the Water Rat, paralysed and staring, saw at last but a distant speck on the white surface of the road.

Wayfarers All, The wind in the Willows, Kenneth Graham
, Project Gutenberg License.
Like the river rat, my father never got to follow the Seafarer. But he made sure I got to go, and he made sure that I wanted to go. He made himself content with his messing about in boats on the river and on the local lakes, but at times ... at times he looked wistfully at the bigger boats that passed by. He smiled (and secretly collected) my crude sketches of schooners and ketches and full rigged ships. It took me a while to figure it out. He always wanted to go, but he knew he never could. He sent me instead.

Thanks, Pop.

Why do you sail?
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Old 02-04-2012, 22:55   #2
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Re: Why I Sail

We are so small on a vast surface of the world. Should we choose not to explore, we may live in comfort knowing only our small corner of the world but our bliss would be founded in ignorance.

Beautiful story btw.
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Old 03-04-2012, 15:16   #3
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Re: Why I Sail

I came here because of the quality of your posts on another thread.

This is a quality post and one that touches me deeply as I have two very small girls that I have dragged across an ocean and hope will have the desire to sail, but I would give up all that is important to me to fulfill their needs should they choose otherwise.

That was a lovely post
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Old 03-04-2012, 16:10   #4
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Re: Why I Sail

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Originally Posted by foolishsailor View Post
I came here because of the quality of your posts on another thread.

This is a quality post and one that touches me deeply as I have two very small girls that I have dragged across an ocean and hope will have the desire to sail, but I would give up all that is important to me to fulfill their needs should they choose otherwise.

That was a lovely post
Thanks for the very nice comments. I hope more people will pick up on the difference from that other thread and post their reasons for sailing. I suspect there are quite a few good story lines out there. I've learned a few over the years and some are quite spell-binding.
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Old 03-04-2012, 18:11   #5
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Wind in the Willows - awesome book...

My dad flew in WWII. He flew a lot in later life starting with sailplanes then glider towing, then airshows and skydivers.

My first solo was in a sailplane in the Mojave desert at 16. I released from tow at 3000 feet. 10 minutes later I was at 11,000 feet and worried I would need oxygen soon. I left the thermal, there were other sailplane pilots about. They indicated they wanted me to follow them cross country! I was too scared to land out and my instructor said, do a pattern, if the lift is good stay out a bit. I strayed a bit, always keeping that giant thermal near and the airport close. I flew for about 2 hours repeatedly riding that thermal back to 10k.

Moving to Singapore there is no real practical way to keep flying.

Sailing is the closest thing to soaring I can imagine. The intricacies of rigging and sail trim are fascinating. Extracting maximum performance from a boat is satisfying. Getting on the boat I cast shore based concerns along with the docklines and honestly have no thought about shore based issues at all.

A sometimes just sitting on the boat cruising along I am reminded that this is probably our only journey in life and it is too important not to slow down and enjoy the ride.
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Old 04-04-2012, 06:16   #6
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Re: Why I Sail

Lovely story Jim. My father also longed for, but never managed to achieve, a life off the beaten path. In the end he was unable to get out of the ruts of his life, but he left me with a burning desire to live a different way.

So, why do I sail?

For me, it's not about the sailing. Sailing to me is just the latest, and hopefully best, way to achieve a life worth living. As I rambled about in that other thread, sailing allows me to give reality to many of the core values that drive me.

Sailing, or more accurately cruising, is just an entirely desirable way to travel, to explore, and to live. It allows me to exist with an understanding of the impacts I place on this planet, and in some small way, to limit those impacts. Perhaps most importantly, cruising lets me step a small way from the path laid out for me by my society -- a path I find increasingly objectionable (and environmental issues are only a small part of my discomfort). The actual sailing part is important, but secondary.

... but I sure do love raising sail to a moderate breeze on a cool crisp morning. Nothing finer .
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Old 04-04-2012, 06:31   #7
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Beautiful story, I used to read wind in the willows to my first daughter every night. It was the first book she bought to read to my grandson.

60 last month and teaching my fifth (and last) child to sail right now, their decision but I think they'll travel to places I have never been to.
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Old 04-04-2012, 06:55   #8
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Re: Why I Sail

My father, born in Demerara, British Guiana in1901, went to sea with his uncle on coastal schooners at 9 years of age as an orphaned child.
Got here in 1922 when his schooner caught fire north of Bermuda.
Worked on steamers until 1931.
Told my brothers and I the most interesting stories until he crossed the bar in 1968.
He and I take Bluestocking sailing all the time now.
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Old 04-04-2012, 07:15   #9
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Re: Why I Sail

What a wonderful post, thank you.

Why do I sail?

From a young age I was adventurous, regularly leaving home with my dolls pram loaded with treasures(age 3 onwards), sometimes getting as far as 2 miles before my distraught parents tracked me down...
It wasn't that I was unhappy I just wanted to see what was around the next corner!

Throughout my rebellious teenage years I longed for wild and free adventure, taking off to pick grapes in France, make pottery in Ireland and so forth. Then I read a book about a couple who sailed the oceans on a catamaran. That stuck in my brain as the years passed and ordinary life took over. But that base desire for freedom, freedom of the road, freedom of the ocean never left.

I accumulated skills, husbands(!), children, responsibilities and the dream drifted into the backwaters. Still there but a little stagnant.Then my life changed, my partner was killed suddenly in an accident and I realised that life was a one time event and I needed to get a move on.

I started cooking on boats, race boats, charter boats and finally many years later with the right husband we took off. Freedom, peace, challenge, fear, joy. All my hopes are realised even though sometimes there is more fear than I would like!

I remember sitting at dinner with a group of top CEO's and asking them what they wanted after the success of their business lives, none of them had a real idea. They asked me the same question and I answered freedom, they laughed and said it wasn't possible!

I'd like to go back now and tell them that it is, that there is freedom out there and it comes on the crest of waves, the roar of the wind and the cry of the gull.
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Old 04-04-2012, 07:24   #10
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Re: Why I Sail

Wonderfull story, thank you for sharing. I'm afraid my reasons are not near so romantic. My father is perfectly content on shore in his own house and seemingly doesn't have an adventurous spirit or any need to explore. I work for an environmental equipment manufacturer and travel all over setting up, starting up, training on and troubleshooting this equipment and see the ugly side of the results of our thirsty need to burn hydrocarbons and the greed this necessity causes. When I finally get to a spot where I can crank up a sail and travel in silence knowing that at this very moment I'm not contributing to this mess, I get some internal satisfaction from not contributing to the billions made by those who may contribute to the suppression of cleaner technology if only for a short time. When the sun comes up and charges my batteries without the noise and stench of the little 2 stroke generator, when I drop the anchor in secluded tropical bays that I would never have otherwise seen even if I could afford to travel, not having some representative of some government telling you how to conduct your life and going beyond to make sure they get the lions share of any money you may or may not have on a daily basis, or, after a rough passage, my wife gets up from lying down in the cockpit having been violently motion-sick, looks around and exclaims how beautiful it is and thanks me and not least of all, the quality time it allows me to spend with my thoughts and with my wife and girls and extended little family. www.SVDaruma.blogspot.com will give you a little peek......
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Old 04-04-2012, 07:32   #11
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Why do I sail? I'm happiest on or under water.
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:08   #12
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Re: Why I Sail

`This has been a wonderful day!' said he, as the Rat shoved off and took to the sculls again. `Do you know, I`ve never been in a boat before in all my life.'

`What?' cried the Rat, open-mouthed: `Never been in a--you never--well I--what have you been doing, then?'

`Is it so nice as all that?' asked the Mole shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed the cushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway lightly under him.

`Nice? It's the ONLY thing,' said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. `Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,' he went on dreamily: `messing--about--in--boats; messing----'

`Look ahead, Rat!' cried the Mole suddenly.

It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air.

`--about in boats--or WITH boats,' the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. `In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not. Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?'

The Mole waggled his toes from sheer happiness, spread his chest with a sigh of full contentment, and leaned back blissfully into the soft cushions. `WHAT a day I'm having!' he said. `Let us start at once!'
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Old 04-04-2012, 14:52   #13
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Re: Why I Sail

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`This has been a wonderful day!' said he, as the Rat shoved off and took to the sculls again. `Do you know, I`ve never been in a boat before in all my life.'

`What?' cried the Rat, open-mouthed: `Never been in a--you never--well I--what have you been doing, then?'

`Is it so nice as all that?' asked the Mole shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed the cushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway lightly under him.

`Nice? It's the ONLY thing,' said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. `Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,' he went on dreamily: `messing--about--in--boats; messing----'

`Look ahead, Rat!' cried the Mole suddenly.

It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air.

`--about in boats--or WITH boats,' the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. `In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not. Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?'

The Mole waggled his toes from sheer happiness, spread his chest with a sigh of full contentment, and leaned back blissfully into the soft cushions. `WHAT a day I'm having!' he said. `Let us start at once!'
Well enough, but:
It is a goodly life that you lead, friend; no doubt the best in the world, if only you are strong enough to lead it!"

"Yes, it's the life, the only life, to live," responded the Water Rat dreamily, and without his usual whole-hearted conviction.


"I did not say exactly that," replied the stranger cautiously; "but no doubt it's the best. I've tried it, and I know. And because I've just tried it—six months of it—and know it's the best, here am I, footsore and hungry, tramping away from it, tramping southwards, following the old call, back to the old life, the life which is mine and which will not let me go."

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Old 07-04-2012, 20:52   #14
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Re: Why I Sail

What an excellent thread!

I don’t have any sailing experience however I have had a desire to cruise since my early school years. In my late teens I met my soul mate and since then we’ve been heads down bums up in rewarding but very busy careers. However, by far our most wonderful memories are from periods of our lives where we were not earning much, living simply and with spare time to spend together and explore the world (we lived in a sheep shearers shack for a year including through the middle of a bleak winter, earning bugger all as I was flying skydiver planes - and we had an absolute ball).

Whilst we don’t have any experience in what appears to be a wonderful world of like minded individuals, we have camped, walked, rock climbed and travelled extensively around the world living in each others back pockets. We feel that the cruising lifestyle would suit us perfectly.

I just wanted to share our dream on this thread because so many of the replies here rang true to me.

As far as turning our dream into reality, a couple more years at work (including some sailing of course) and we’ll be there financially.

I suppose life is a compromise. Work your ass off for a decade with a (40ish foot) light at the end of the tunnel and then buy the boat outright with enough passive income to enjoy yourself…….or do it right now and live off $500 a month and at some stage go back to work for a while….I would argue that both concepts have their merits.

Anyways, here’s to turning a long awaited dream into a reality
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