To those who think they envy my life

“If you can’t handle pain you can’t be a sailor.” – Shay Seaborne

Off Cape Hatteras

Periodically, people tell me that they envy the life I lead, but those who think they envy the sailor’s life rarely want to live it. Rather, from a safe distance, they envy the romantic image, the idea of freedom in the beauty of nature.

The romatic dreamers don’t consider that nature can be the greatest foe, and that life in a small vessel in the immense ocean is inherently dangerous. Much less, do they consider the constant demands of life at sea: environmental fatigue, frequent lack of sleep, lack of customary hygiene, work in the wee hours, always on call, life in close quarters with and relying on others you may not even know, lack of privacy and space, working through heat, cold, wind, sun, rain, salt spray, sleeplessness, and sea sickness, enduring tedium, terror, frequently sore muscles, blisters, and bruises, and constantly striving to stave off the serious threat of dehydration.

The sailor’s life also lacks certainty; she often doesn’t know where she will be or even sleep in the weeks ahead. In addition, a sailor must haul around with her all that she owns, which means she may have to sleep with it in her bunk, or worry about where to leave it ashore.

Timeless moments of exhiliration and sheer joy wrapped in discomfort, pain, uncertainty, and danger, that is the real sailor’s life. Want it?

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