anybody else in this boat
Same boat. Yes. Hmmm. Well, I certainly WAS, but time passes and things change. Sometimes obstacles seem impossible to overcome, but if you set a course and hold fast, time passes and great mountains wear away. Oh crap. Too much cryptic **** doesn''t say anything. Okay, here''s the readers digest version. I returned from Viet Nam a very damaged man and wanted nothing more than to integrate in society and get on with my life, not knowing that was not to be. One problem after another left me standing on the beach staring at the ocean and wanting only to have a sailboat and cruise away to a new life and adventure in warm places. I was in Boston. But life wasn''t having it. I was now divorced with kids, drinking and drugging WAY over the top, and living in desperate isolation in cheap apartments on the coast, staring out the window at the sea. I started reading. Magazines, then books. I went to the boat shows and wandered around, looking and learning. I stopped drinking and drugging (don''t ask - impossible to relate, but it''s been 19 years now) and bought a 22 foot O''Day that I promptly moved onto. It was hopeful. I had to press my back against the cabinroof to pull up my pants, then kneel on the cabin sole to button them up. After six months, I traded the O''Day and $5500 for a 29'' Warner Cadet with full headroom. After two more years, I bought a salvage fiberglass hull and began building my present boat. The kids were growing and needed college and other things. I accidently started a yacht service in Boston so I could make money to keep going on my own boat, but that turned into a life-draining mind-crushing exercize in human futility, along with having a six-month winter season of frozen death, but enough of that joy. I closed the doors and moved to Naples, Florida, where I went to work for another yacht service. I paid off all the old bills, shipped my unfinished boat down to Naples and struggled once again to get up and running. Two years ago I got this bad news from the VA. Seems they gave me a serious disease during an operation and I needed to stop working and get near Tampa (the big VA hospital) for treatment. This kinda sucked, but at least I could get back to work on the boat and move aboard, which I did. I also looked up a bunch of people out there cruising and started reading their websites, sort of living vicariously through their adventures. There are DEFINATELY some good people out there having great fun. Lunatics, of course, but our kind of lunatics, living our kind of dream. And there are HUNDREDS of them. This past insane hurricane ravaged summer, I made it to Palmetto in my boat. I ran aground for two days and weathered some scary damn storms, but I made it. Next thing you know, the VA says my disease is in remission, I mean like, fading away and healing without treatment, so now I''m on a watch list instead of entering treatment. I found this much better situation in the coolest little live-aboard marina you can imagine, in Cortez, Florida, right on the intercoastal. I''m finishing up working on my boat and gathering charts and shopping for depth sounders and GPS''s and such. The sunsets are great and the future is exciting. I know what the view is like from the shore where you stand. Find all the hope and joy you can by getting books, videos, movies (Riddle of the Sands is great) and watch websites for updates to keep the dream alive. You don''t have to sit on your hands and despair. Also, there is this possibility. Try to wrangle a situation where you can get a little scrap sailboat like an O''Day or a McGregor, something you can put in the back yard and work on a little at a time. It''s a form of therapy, a self-promise that you have something inside that needs attention. It avoids despair. If you can fix it up and sell it, more the better. Get a bigger one and build yourself a cruising kitty. You can always spend it on college for the kids if the time comes, but meanwhile, you''ll walk around smiling, and that''s all you really need.
Ben (Hawkeye) on board ''Falcon''