One thing I’ve noticed about the sought-after lifestyle of the last decade is the personal quest for “experience.” Many are no longer content to simply get married, raise a family, and work in a career for the better part of one’s adult life. Many perceive that to be just another spoke of the hamster wheel of routine. It is not enough for them.
To help people find adventure is what Seattle Yachts is all about, and why we work hard to provide the network of professionals to help make dreams come true.
What got me thinking about this recently was a frank discussion with friends about the years and money we spend in the pursuit of our bucket lists. Often, this quest consumes months or more with a less-than-ideal return.
To see evidence of this is to look no farther than the dozens of images of men and women, as they stand roped together, shoulder to shoulder, waiting their turn to climb ever so slowly up a ridge leading to a mountain summit. Mount Everest, K2, Lhotse–it really doesn’t matter—the story is the same. People looking for that ultimate adventure and “experience” spend fortunes and many months to climb a significant peak.
But how exactly does that experience feel when you stand cheek-to-cheek with everyone else attempting the same thing?
I am not knocking the lure of mountain climbing. In fact, I know a thing or two about it myself. I can explain how a cobra fang is used in ice climbing, and I understand the proper ways to set up a safe and successful rappel. But when the wide-open spaces and clean mountain air of an Alpine climb are replaced with the crowded maelstrom of organized ascents up major peaks “because it is there,” I would think the experience is decidedly lacking.
Check off one more thing on the bucket list, perhaps. But is it the kind of experience you want? I hardly think so.
I walked the Camino de Santiago a handful of years ago, the popular Camino Frances route to be precise. It is a pilgrimage across Spain that celebrates the Way of Saint James, culminating at the cathedral square of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain. Mile after mile of well-worn, rough paths make their way through the mountains of this region. It gives a person time to reflect, ponder, and consider our place in the universe. It is a remarkable trek, even though it has become very popular and crowded in recent years.
(Below: The hiking path on the Camino Frances route.)
As one nears the end of the pilgrimage to the cathedral, the trails and paths of several different routes converge, and one is soon surrounded by other pilgrims. It is hard to walk any of the remaining distance without the constant chatter of small groups, talking and laughing as they make their way along the trail. As far as I am concerned, the last miles were not fun, every bit as unfulfilling as those images of mountain ridges lined with brightly clad mountaineers.
I am a big fan of quality time on the water, and I think the “experience” so many seek can be found in boating, no matter when or where or with whom. Depending on where one is in their boating lifecycle, there is an enormous range of adventure, experience, and energy to tap into.
If you are among those who prefer to find your “experience” in a private setting, I suggest you get out on the water. Where one can find the freedom, solitude, clean Earth energy, and hopefully, a looking glass into oneself.
To paraphrase one company’s marketing hype, life really is better on a boat.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been alone or in close company of others at sea, where the only sounds are the steady heartbeat of a diesel engine, or the creaking and groaning of lines and rigging on a sailboat, making headway among the waves. The silence is deafening, and one’s senses open, more so than possible with constant chatter, road noise, and the ever-present distraction of commercial flights overhead.
I remember looking out the window of one such flight as we flew across the Atlantic. Not yet at our cruising altitude or eventual course, I looked down and saw the wake and tiny dot of what I assumed was a sailboat far below. I remember wondering what it must be like at that moment in the cockpit of that sailboat, while I was just a faint line in the sky. Perhaps the crew is thinking about dinner or checking progress on the day’s passage. I imagined the person on watch looking out across the vast ocean.
Anyone who seeks adventure and an “experience” need look no further than getting on a boat and setting off on a voyage somewhere. It does not matter if one is traveling offshore for the first time to make landfall in the Dry Tortugas, 70 miles west of Key West. For someone going to sea for the first time, it is every bit an offshore passage as crossing the Pacific to the Marquesas. If adventure and experience are what you seek, I guarantee you will find it.
The journey is indeed also the destination.
(Below: Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas is an easy cruise from Key West.)
Even if there are others aboard, each crew member finds his or her own place in the universe. And let me tell you, being on watch at night is pure magic. Trillions of stars highlight the insignificance of one soul in the scheme of the universe. The experience is as spiritual as any found in a cathedral. It can’t help but leave its mark.
Funny, it doesn’t matter if it is a sailboat or a powerboat, the experience can be much the same. When Steve D’Antonio and I took the little 30-foot Willard trawler from Mathews, Virginia to Bermuda, it was a six-day crossing like many sailing trips I’ve made. It was likely the first time anyone crossed to Bermuda in a full displacement, single engine trawler of that size, but that was not our goal. We wanted the experience of taking a small motorboat offshore.
I would be wrong to only illustrate the need to be offshore to find adventure. I once took our 41-foot power catamaran from Annapolis to Stuart, Florida, down the ICW, all by myself. I stopped each evening, of course, and enjoyed the marvelous local food one finds along the waterway. Much like sailing solo, I had to be especially mindful, plan each day, and learn how to stay safe alone on the boat. Trust me, you only forget to bring your binoculars with you to the helm once. It never happened again.
I know a very experienced captain who spent years teaching sailing to young people at our yacht club. The woman has since moved on to teach sailing at the Naval Academy. She once told me that sailing is a unique sport for young people. It is the only sporting activity where each person learns to be totally accountable for their actions. If they decide to turn the tiller one way, the boat changes course, for better or for worse. There is no one else to share the blame or reward. It is not a team activity like soccer, where one learns to work as a team. Boating, and particularly sailing, teaches a person (of any age) that they are responsible and accountable for what happens on the water. I think that is a brilliant perspective and dead on.
Boating can be delightfully rewarding for anyone, and even more so for families. Creating imaginative treasure hunts for the kids, with gold and other treasure buried under rocks on the beach, turns any day into something special for everyone. Or one can enjoy a solo adventure, reaching a new destination at the end of the day without a problem. This can be satisfying on many levels.
The experienced brokers at Seattle Yachts are the best way to find the right boat for your own adventure, like those I’ve described. You don’t have to become one of those young and attractive YouTube couples that live in bikinis and shorts and pay for their nomadic lifestyle through subscribers. As romantic as that life might seem, the tedious job of editing and producing regular quality video episodes would be a conflict for me when I would rather enjoy an afternoon looking in tidal pools on the beach, and the sea life trapped until the next high tide.
Whether you choose sail or power, used or new, you will experience life in a new way. And find what adventures await you, in a Great Loop-capable trawler, a sophisticated motoryacht, or one of today’s contemporary sailboats.
For many people, the search for meaning and experience won’t happen standing in line to enter a church or waiting your turn to take another step up that ice-covered ridge. I suspect you will have better luck making those memories, and having adventures, by casting off into the unknown, whether close to home or around the world. On a boat.
There is no better feeling.