How Did I Get Here?

Solace at Rosario Head

This summer I’ll be living on my boat Solace and sailing it up the Inside Passage.

My life is changing so drastically now. I’m losing touch with the average person, and yet, I started as a collared-shirt wearing, cubical dwelling, middle class, paper pushing loan drone and wage slave. This journey of a thousand small steps has not taken me far yet, physically. But it has changed my life drastically.

In three months I’ll be living almost totally off-the-grid in my sailboat. I’m about to float around, wherever the wind takes me, but generally pointed north. I’ll be relying on my skills as a sailor and my ability to have engineered a seaworthy and comfortable floating home. I’ll be doing this for at least five months, being away from the nearest town for up to a month-and-a-half or more in the remote fjords and islands of British Columbia.

How did I get here? What set me apart? What nuggets of wisdom do I have to share? What allowed me to persevere where so many let their similar dreams crumble? In reflecting on this long journey, I see three elements, more than any others, that helped me to succeed:

  1. I bought a neglected fiberglass boat with the intension of learning to fix it up, sail it, and eventually live on it.
  2. I taught myself how to work with fiberglass.
  3. I took skilled sailors out on my boat and asked them to teach me.

downsizing

Besides what I have on the boat, this 6 x 10 trailer contains all my other worldly possessions.

1) My first boat was the cheapest boat I could afford. I actually bartered for it. I didn’t realize then just how immortal a core-less fiberglass boat could be, but I purchased it with the idea that I would teach myself how to restore a boat. I had also never been in, let alone owned, a sailboat. I knew I had a steep learning curve ahead of me, but I was up for the challenge. Later on, when I bought Soalce (my third boat), I again got a neglected boat that needed a lot of work. I bought her with the intention of fixing her up to live on.

I think this attitude can be summed up as ‘sweat equity’. I was willing to buy something on the cheap because I trusted my ability to teach myself new skills. Fiberglass is a very forgiving medium, and my choice of a coreless fiberglass boat was fortunate. I also learned that boating is an expensive hobby, but an inexpensive lifestyle. Choosing to liveaboard as a goal made all the difference

2) I didn’t know the first thing about fiberglassing when I started. My first few projects were a huge mess and I wasted a lot of material. But I kept reading West System guides and watching YouTube videos. I experimented and got better.

Friends on a boat

Despite my tiny living quarters, my friends still manage to pack in and have a lot of fun.

Epoxy fiberglass is an amazing building material. It goes on as easy as painting a wall, but is incredibly, structurally strong. It is unaffected by salt water and other corrosive materials. It lasts forever and can be repaired easily. We are truly living in the future with this amazing material.

Learn to fiberglass.

3) Taking skilled sailors out on the boat was a no brainer, but it’s amazing how few people take this initiative. The thing you have to realize is this: taking your own boat out is a lot of work. There is a lot of prep work before and clean-up work afterwards. If someone invites you on their boat, you get all the fun without any of the mess. Skilled sailors love passing on their knowledge too.

Re-read that last paragraph. It took a long time for that truth to dawn on me. Once it did, I started reaching out to my friends and dock neighbors. I put the word out that I was looking to take people out who could coach me. Once I did this my sailing skills, and knowledge of sailing in general, improved radically.

Related posts:

Sailing in Solitude
Daily Miracles
Escape Velocity
Comments
4 Responses to “How Did I Get Here?”
  1. Nice post! And good for you for taking this on as a learning thing and getting help from more experienced people. It does make all the difference. Hope to see you this summer somewhere up there!

  2. Wyatt says:

    congrats on being so close to your goal. Looking forward to some (infrequent, I’m guessing) updates from the inside passage.

  3. Sarah says:

    Your life is so much like my own! I have been living this lifestyle since 2009, and have been trying to find ways of making it more comfortable as I go. Nothing like being able to head out for a summer of exploring and sailing. I live in the Gulf Islands aboard a old fiberglass sailboat too, and have been heading up to Desolation Sound every year. Haven’t managed yet to take an entire summer off yet, but have always found odd jobs along the way to keep me going. I hope to see you out there!

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