At the start of the month, we were both working at Mainers United for Marriage and doing the math for living on the cheap. Even spending only a hundred dollars a month on food and everything, anchoring to avoid moorage fees (and because it kicks ass and is how we love to live), riding our bikes, and not heeding the siren call of Hollywood’s execrable selection of late-summer movies…even with all that, we wouldn’t be able to make enough money to head to Scotland on these wages, in this boat.
We had this grand idea. We’d ask our friends to pay for it! And ask our friends to ask their friends to pay for it! Our friends have great friends, right? We also have some tenuous connections with rich people. Let us really stress tenuous. Meaning we can’t quite find the thread now that we’re looking for it. Rich people are fickle and that’s how they got (or how they stay) rich.
But we forgive them for that. And we ask that anyone reading this consider giving to our RocketHub campaign, notwithstanding our badmouthing.
We respect our friends. We know that they’re sensitive to things like great ideas and to the environmental pressures that we bring up in the campaign.
The people who stay in our lives are the people we share values with. Meaning poor. Meaning at the end of the week, they’re looking at 75 cents in their hand, proud that they paid everything, but struggling. Or knowing they didn’t pay everything and hoping things will turn around. At the most well-off, our friends are working class and happily surviving, dependent on that paycheck.
Yep – we are the 99%.
When we started this adventure in 1999, the rig that was on our original boat, Sovereign Nation, was the same rig that we have on Nomad, was also the same rig on Sapien, and is the rig that we have always sailed. We’re comfortable with this rig. It’s referred to as the Marconi masthead rig.
Meaning it is triangle sails, arranged fore-and-aft, designed to point high into the wind. There’s hundreds of years of physics involved – we’re going to skip that part.
Another rig has thousands of years behind it, costs very little to deploy, is easy to repair, and uses sails we could make ourselves while underway. Doesn’t this sound like an essential piece of equipment to take around the world?
We’re talking about a junk rig.
Developed in China about a million years ago, it’s a proven rig configuration and reefs easily in heavy winds with a shorthanded crew. Also, when reefed, the center of effort (the combination of where the wind’s force hits all the sails) doesn’t move forward or aft, just down. Thus, an increase in stability without changing the steering effect. It has no standing rigging (meaning no holes in the deck required for chainplates and more room to move around on deck in heavy weather) and no expensive parts like goosenecks. If you have to replace a mast, you go onto an island, cut a tree down, and replace that mast. Planting another tree, of course.
The slightly more modern variation is called the balanced lug. We have more research ahead of us to figure out which will work best for us.
But we know the limitations of the Marconi rig and we’re ready to move on to a more intelligent design for our needs. We don’t have support crew that flies into port to fix our gear. We don’t have people with stop-watches checking our times. We’ve chosen, again and again, for our greatest joy, to go slow and go cheap. This is what works for us, and that means we need to look at getting a different boat.
The boat that we never changed the name of, that we always wanted to, that we put so much work into over the last 4 years. That has taken us thousands of miles through the Chesapeake and up into Maine. We’ve decided to sell this boat and get another in which we will have even more confidence.
We believe we can do this on the cheap. Here’s one way: Boat Bits.
The thought of building our dream boat from a nightmare on the water doesn’t scare us in the least, shit, it’s what we did with the boat we’re on now!
Then there’s a job opportunity that came up this past week.
I (James) quit the job at Mainers United for Marriage, rode the bike back to the park, rowed Tinker out to Nomad, jumped up into the cockpit and my phone rang…
This job would be $50k a year with all of our food, rent and utilities including phones and internet paid for. We’d have offices and lots of free time for writing our books and working on whatever boat we choose to refurbish.
The ad read: Wanted. A couple to co-manage an independent living senior community.
It’s exactly what you’re thinking. An extended stay hotel with all meals, maid service, and lots of activities, all included in one monthly payment.
We would have to dedicate a lot of time to this, but in the time we spent in Baltimore, we could refurbish a boat with the rig of our choice and have enough left over to sail around the world in style. The company has over 300 locations across the US and Canada. We could go anywhere we want, including Victoria, BC, or St John, NB, or a location in WA or ME or CT or…
Ah, the choices.
Also, I (Dena) have been finding while working for Mainers United for Marriage that I really enjoy and connect with old folks. I don’t like kids, and I really don’t like apathetic people in the ages I associate with passion – late teens and early twenties. People who seem to know everything and are completely oblivious at the same time. On the other hand, I’ve had dozens of great conversations with folks over 65. Not all of them have been swayed by these conversations, but I’m amazed and impressed by their willingness to engage with me and consider changing their ideas.
So we applied. Depending on how well you know us, you may or may not have an idea what that entailed. We made a list of all the most important information given in the ad, including their favorite key words. We combed their website, adding to the arsenal of nomenclature and our understanding of what they wanted to hear. We brainstormed ideas on how we would handle some of the challenges they brought up. And then we wrote a letter.
A seriously kick-ass letter.
That letter got us a call-back 48 hours later. That was the phone call that James got the moment he reached the boat after quitting.
Serendipity, man. Gotta love it.
So we did a phone interview and tore it up. The woman who interviewed us lived in Key West, FL, and has dreamed of living on a sailboat all her life. Oh, and she’s trying to write a book and is keeping our phone number in case she needs advice on either endeavor. Yep, it worked on her.
We also did our usual trick of passing stories back and forth, working smoothly as a team. After an hour and 20 minutes on the phone, we were all laughing and joking like we were old friends and she recommended us for the position.
Next step, having the same effect on the team of regional managers that wants to interview us.
They’re flying us to Charlotte, NC, for a face-to-face interview on Thursday and we’re going to give it the old college try. We bought suits. We’re going to get hair cuts. I (Dena) briefly considered a manicure, but that’s a can of worms I don’t really want to open. We’re going for it.
We’ll do whatever it takes to continue living our dream. This is our threek in the road. We can have our friends pay our way around the world. We can sell the boat and buy something dirt cheap in Nova Scotia, rebuild and continue from there on a shoestring junk rig. Or we can work for the next 2-3 years, buy a boat at the location we choose to work in, and continue our adventures from there.
Ok, lemme get my thoughts together.
You bought suits?!?!? This is serious.
I hear you turning over your options, but it seems to me this course has been firmly charted. You get past the Scylla of the bigtime interview and the Charybdis of selling Intrepid and your destiny is cast.
Of the other two options, friend funding seems untenable. With the effort and investment you’ve sunk, it seems like build-as-you-go is a backup plan only if the caremakers & weekend boat builders future does not materialize.
Which it will. You have this in the bag.
So that’s what you are doing. The question is where.
But you are exquisitely skilled at choosing a place you want to plant your next adventure and adapting to that new pond. You will bloom where you are planted.
I have two concerns. 1. How will you tolerate being planted? I know you’ve grounded yourselves before (though remember that in India you were still traveling) but this is now. I encourage you to try on what it will be like to be still for that long for who you both are right now, in this phase of your lives. Maybe ok. Maybe not.
2. What will it be like for you to work inside the often dehumanizing always underfunded eldercare industry? As a social worker I know these systems enough to see that there may be ethical compromises you cannot anticipate. Working within systems is hard, but when you are residential you have no relief.
Both of these lead to the same end: What happens if you can’t stay with that job for the duration you need it? If you feel satisfied that you will be able to figure out a Plan B and C and D on the fly, well, why not?
Luckily pivot and reboot are well-exercised skills for you, sailors. You always manage to keep the boat rightside up.
So bon chance on your next adventure! It’s already germinating in the womb of your aquahome, swirling between you like a fragrant breeze.
I’ll send you good juju on Thursday. Pleeeeease report. From the airport, from Charlotte, from the plane. Please please please.
PS Dena Manicure? Yeah, skip that shit. Not you, and it puts you in the mode of trying to front. You can’t fake your way through the interview, you won’t be able to maintain that even for an hour. You (you. personally.) show your best attributes when you stay authentic and transparent. Lezbo-short and clean and you’re golden. They’re gonna eat you up.
About those ~feelings~
> Delighted. Your tone is so hopeful.
> Disappointed. Your RocketHub adventure was such a cool idea.
> Bemused and Impressed. Your methodical keyword search and teaching yourself the language of the field make me smile so big.
> Excited. Wide-eyed, bated breath to see where you land.
> Grieving. I am shocked at how heavy it hangs, I have no rightful claim. I’m really really sad you are selling that boat. I’ve attached my wanderlust, my vicarious thrills, my allegiance to the Intrepid and her crew. That’s my vessel too, in some twisted way.
I will miss her so much.
Hi guys (and Kate)
They will never be planted, their roots only grow in the water, not dirt, and the water moves all around this planet. And you should dream on Kate, dreams sustain us but Dena and James show us all that, though most refuse to pay the price, if you choose wisely you can make some of those dreams come true.
This is their third boat and none were coastal or bay type “read aboard”, plastic toys, they have all been capable of sailing the worlds oceans in relative safety and relative comfort.
Dena, James, I hope the next chapter in the saga goes well.
D and k… Wow!
P.S. I know the intrepid story.
Fuck yeah. my head is still spinning to understand all of this. As, always you guy’s ROCK I seemingly “never had a doubt” . James you are as I have said before …Can reach into a toilet and pull out a gold watch. Kate is fucking hilarious , she’s spinning worse than me. I will say this , I will read it all again and wish you the best , no matter what !!!! Aloha and keep us posted…
O.K. With the plethora things whizzing around my head( alcohol induced) I’ve reached this conclusion . I must agree with James on the talking to the younger generation thing. Need I say that nobody gave me shit…. much less a fucking phone or a Damn car to kill my friends with. I worked for it i.e. Never killed anyone…But the fact that the most instruction and tutorials I ever got was for someone over 50 years old. I learned Boilers , Machinery and a host of other things we wouldn’t mention ( Evil Grin) But my station is this no matter what this situation for you and Dena, maybe there is a story or a smile that can be given. Most of these persons family never visit or care about them. I’m seriously proud that you guy’s would consider this venture. It is a heart – tugger at times , but most rewarding if you listen. Aloha and wish you the best
This is heinz at W.M.I ead the above , and I would like to wish you good luck in your venture. In my past life I had many ventures too, and took advantage of most of them, Had Ship inspections by Lake Charles, in Cormoran,Beaumont TX,etc. Had many trialtrips outbof the Chesap. bay, Mobile River into Golf of Mexico,Missessippy River,etc. You should take any advantage comming your way and use it to your advantage,my be you hould look into being a Politician. The seem to make the money, so do the indendent Buisiness Person, so take the plunge and work as a Profecional at the Job wit older people.You two can do it,and I languish at the west marine store. Good Luck: Heinz
Thanks Tom, you’re a good friend.
…And thank you Heinz, We are travelers and adventurers , discoverers of this life that is long and we will continue to do those things.
… All of us.
Mahalo… and as always. you can find refuge here in the beloved state of “WTF” Hahaha…
I’m just sayin…HAVE FUN …EH???????
I am so excited for you today. Bees buzzing in my middle.
A nudge to your destiny to point it toward your highest good. May you find whatever situation you truly need. May you discover it’s a pleasure. Trust your intuition. As usual.
Electric charisma pulses from your smile.
Good luck, Captain and Captain.
P.S. The Intrepid story? One of my favorite stories of all time. Thumpthump.