When living in the yard the previous month I befriended a Kiwi shipwright named David. He is a man on a mission. A voyager. He bought his teak ketch Fortune for a bottle of scotch and a promise — a promise not to cut her up. He has been working around the clock now for a couple of months, trying to get his little wood ship ready to sail home across the Pacific to New Zealand by the end of April. His intent to be reunited with his two daughters from whose lives he has been absent for too long.
On the starboard bulkhead of Fortune was a quote – framed and proudly displayed – about voyaging. From what I have come to know of David, he could very well be the epitome of this philosophy.
“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen, who play with their boats at sea — “cruising,” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.
Little has been said or written about the ways a man may blast himself free. Why? I don’t know, unless the answer lies in our diseased values. A man seldom hesitates to describe his work; he gladly divulges the privacies of alleged sexual conquests. But ask him how much he has in the bank and he recoils into a shocked and stubborn silence.
“I’ve always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. The are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine — and before we know it our lives are gone.
What does a man need — really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in — and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.
Where, then. lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life? What follows is not a blueprint for the man entombed; not many people find thousand dollars a year (as if any man is worth that much). But the struggle is relative: it’s a lot harder to walk away from an income like that than from a fraction thereof.”
I couldn’t agree more. If you are contemplating a voyage, and by voyage I do not mean only those of the sea, I say get out there. Do it. No excuses. You have what you need already.