Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Reasonable Decisions

Fifty million people could lose their jobs by the end of 2009.

Fifty million people is the population of a mid-sized country, like, say: France. The global economic downturn is now considered the number one threat to American security, which means that the clever people who analyze these things think an angry mob the size of France is even more scary than a few crazy guys with beards and shoe bombs. People who still have jobs are feeling extremely lucky. They're showing up to work on time, accepting pay cuts, and thanking Christ they didn’t invest with that Madoff guy.

Except us. Last week, we quit our jobs to sail to Fiji.

It is quite possible that this was not a prudent move. There is very little income to be earned as a boat bum in the tropics. It is difficult to convince a dolphin to contribute to your 401-K plan. And thirty-year old fiberglass sailboats don’t appreciate in value. In fact, if you sit in the cockpit on a quiet night, you can hear a faint gurgling noise, which is the sound of your financial future sinking inexorably to the ocean floor.

But my God, it is a beautiful way to live.

The first time I decided to go sailing, it was 1999, and everyone who knew their way around a computer was busy making their first million, while I savvily decided to drop out on a sailboat in the Caribbean. This earned me a net profit of zero dollars, though it did set my life on a fairly consistent path of seeking more boats on which to drop out, spoiling any long-term career ambitions I may once have had and ensuring that any money I ever made would quickly be squandered on marinized stainless steel and underwater epoxy.

But now I’m thirty-four years old, a real grown-up, a mother. Silas is just learning how to walk. I should be shopping for the best preschool, working my way up the corporate ladder, saving for college and retirement, buying a home and a better car and acquiring a mortgage. Or at least, that’s what the pictures on TV tell me I should be doing.

But one day ten years ago, while sailing through the Bahamas, I leaned backwards over the lifelines and I saw: the pink sky at dawn over a rose-tinted sea. The sun glimmering over the horizon and the moon, watchful in the heavens. I had the sensation of skimming over the surface of a water-washed planet, a human with a place in an intricate cosmos.

That’s what I want to give my son.


  1. From one boat mama to another -- RIGHT ON GIRLFRIEND! We're still stuck in the marina for now, but we'll see you out there soon enough. May our little swabbies stir up some trouble together one day.

  2. Just found your blog... Beautiful way to put it, and well received by another cruising family (landlocked right now).

  3. A bit of a gypsy myself - though employed - looking at the North Sea and the changing skies and tides - I ABSOLUTELY know where you are coming from. The child you seek to nurture and protect is subject to REALITY101 on day 1 in school - private or public. Home/Sailboat educate him (possibnly them) and know you are doing him a great favor. Web-based or supplemented education is the way of the future. Enjoy life and I am enjoying reading your blog.

  4. Bingo. I want that for my 4 kids. Not sure when or how it will happen, but I need it.

    Love your blog....here from Toast Floats.

  5. Just found your blog and love it. We're close to setting sail as we get our boat cruising ready (my husband and 4 year old), quit the old job and ditch the savings :) I can't think of a better way to raise a child. Looking forward to possibly run into you guys some day.