Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Are You a Traveling Sailor, or a Sailor Who Travels?

When we went to Ft. Lauderdale a couple months ago, we had the pleasure of meeting and enjoying a meal with some blog followers, fellow sailors who are off on their own journey in a couple months. As it does when sailors get together, talk turned to cruising and sailing and what makes us tick about floating around on boats.  "Would you consider yourself a sailor who travels, or a traveling sailor...?" they asked, "...because there's a difference" they added.

I thought this was a very interesting question that was further punctuated by a recent interview we did (coming soon) when the interviewer asked "What made you decide that this was the lifestyle you were going to pursue?" The conversation with our friends in Ft. Lauderdale resurfaced in my memory...

For me, it has always been about the travel.  I have been plagued by wanderlust all my life and some way, some how I was going to make travel a huge part of it.  I backpacked across Europe at 18, moved to Tanzania at 24, backpacked solo through South East Asia at 27 and did another solo trip to South America at 29.  In between those larger trips are countless smaller trips to equally compelling destinations around the globe.  While these quenched my thirst for expedition for a spell, I found my appetite for adventure insatiable.  Staying in one place with a two week vacation every year just to keep me from going insane wasn't going to cut it.  My love of travel combined with my passion for sailing and the ocean made it a no-brainer.   I'd live on a boat.  I'd sail around the world and make travel my life.  The logistics of making this happen were inconsequential.  I would find a way.  Now that we're actually living this life, I am still driven by the travel component.  For me, making landfall is the rush.  I get all giddy inside like a child on Christmas morning but instead of presents,  meeting the locals, shopping their markets, walking their streets and eating their food are my surprises.  While I thoroughly enjoy the sailing, it's the travel that drives me.  I am a traveler who sails.

For Scott, it's about the sailing.  Being one with the boat.  He fell in love with sailing at a young age and for him, it wasn't where he was going but the act of sailing that was the escape.  Tweaking the sails, feeling the rush of the water over the rudder, registering the wind on his face and making his little boat go.  He can sit on deck patiently and quietly for hours and hours on end, watching the water, checking the sails, adjusting the jib cars, plotting our course.  His innate sense of calm and inquisitive nature lend themselves well to a life at sea.  He doesn't need books or music to pass the time.  He can sit contentedly in the cockpit - making little adjustments as he sees them, considering ways to make our boat go a tenth of a knot faster.  He doesn't get frustrated when the wind dies.  A flapping sail is simply an invitation to do something better.  The sea fuels his ideas and his dreams.  The destination, for Scott, is simply an added bonus.  Sure he loves to see new places and Scott is no stranger to travel himself having lived more or less like a nomad since college. The real adventure for him, however, begins not when we get to shore, but when we head back out to sea.  Scott is a sailor who travels.

Whatever the motivation - sailing, traveling, or some combination of the two - our end goal is the same:  To take our lives into our own hands.  To write our story the way we want it written and not the way someone tells us to write it.  To take time to enjoy every minute of every day.  To spend as much time as we can in nature - breathing fresh air and feeling the daytime sunshine on our skin.  To become self-sufficient and self-reliant. To learn not to sweat the small stuff and revel in life's simple pleasures.  To be healthy and fit.  To meet, be inspired and learn from others.  To dream freely and openly and live the truth that less really is more.  To remain far outside the "status quo" and not to become another cog in the wheel.  To teach our children that there is another way.  To live a life less ordinary.  To live a life extraordinary.

So we live on a boat.  We sail around.  Who knows where the heck we're going but gosh-darnit, we're doing it.

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Junaid said...

There is a little bit of difference. The traveling sailor hops off the boat and heads off to explore the minute he makes landfall. The bigger the land mass, the longer he will take to explore. The sailing traveler tends to be more worried about his boat dragging anchor or the hundred other chores of boat-ownership and tends to stick around the boat. He is not as gung-ho about venturing too far inland, and gets restless to get underway again. Just my observation of the two types. I am the traveling sailor type myself. Sailing is a means to an end, not the end in itself.

Junaid said...

I guess I mixed up the two types in my above comment but you know what type I meant :-)

Dani said...

Great Post!

Interesting topic. For me it is a little of both. I haven't sailed too too far, but on the journey's we have taken it is both about the sailing, and where we are going.

I am attracted to sailing because of the challenge. It is not always easy to sail, and in fact sometimes it's hard but the rewards are worth it to me.

Getting to a place to explore and travel the world is the entire reason we are even leaving. That said I gravitate towards the physical aspect of sailing to make it all happen.

If someone came to me and said you can travel the world by bus, car, train and plane all expenses paid, OR you can sail yourself there on your own accord all expenses paid, I would DEFINITELY pick the sailing trip. Adventurous, physically and mentally challenging. Yeah!

Ask me again in 30 years and my answer will probably change. :D

Paul A. said...

Britt, you know Terri and I are fans with a passion for your blog but this post is one of your best. There is something about the way you put the words together that allows one to feel your emotions or maybe you are just hitting real close to home. We are on the other end of the life’s spectrum so we have done the “more begets more” routine. We long for what you and Scott have found and hope you never lose it! I think you know, being in this lifestyle, there are plenty of pretenders out there claiming to be full time cruisers but in reality they are day sailors who return to well paying corporate jobs when sailing gets uncomfortable or they have a blog about “one day” leaving the dock. What I am trying to say; you and Scott appear to be sincere and genuine and it radiates from your fingers when you write. Thanks for keeping my/our dream alive.
Take care of each other,
Paul & Terri

Emily said...

This is such a beautiful post! I'm still learning the sailing part, but I have the traveling down, so I hope to one day be a traveler who sails... It's perfect that you guys are one of each. I wonder what Isla will end up being (because there's no way that sailing and traveling are in her blood)!

SailFarLiveFree said...

I love the destinations, but sailing to me is truly about the journey. I'm happiest when I'm on passage, whether long or short. I always feel a sense of unease when I'm tied to land and can't wait to be untethered and set free with the sails up and the bow splitting the foam.

Pat Sixbey said...

I would have to say I will start as an adventurer who is going to sail. This boat will be my "boots, backpack, kayak, and canoe". Another tool to get me out there exploring and challenging myself. After a while at sea, who knows what I will end up as.

Last Paradise said...

Love. This post hits so close to home and has me dreaming of the path less travelled again....

Robert Frost (1874–1963).  Mountain Interval.  1920.
1. The Road Not Taken
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;         
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,         
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.         
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.         

Lindsey said...

This is a wonderful post - thank you! It's something my partner and I have discussed many times without giving it a name. Food for thought!

Anonymous said...

Not sure it's so clear cut that everybody has to fall into one or the other category of sailor first vs. traveler. There have been many times after a long passage has ended in an exotic island landfall, that there is nothing I need nor want more after clearing customs et al, than to go exploring ashore. And I just love sailing. Adjusting the sails to the proper trim for changing wind and weather, just feeling and hearing the gurgle of the water past the hull is indeed an almost unparalleled joyful sound. So, even though I have had the privilege of being a traveling sailor, I am also a sailing traveller, and there is surely nothing at all wrong with being either one at any time.

RED ARROW said...

How interesting it all is, I love to travel and I think that nothing better has been invented yet. And it's so great to read about your travels that I wanted to tell you about mine. I also travel like this, and then when I arrived in Arizona, I realized that I wanted to stay forever. And I've been living here for a couple of years now and I have no problems getting zagranpasport because I found a great website through which you can do it.

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