Surely you can see the dichotemy in your post.
I do, the point isn't lost on me. Hard work is the same, whether it's maintaining a cruising lifestyle on a shoestring budget, or rising through the ranks in corporate or industrial workplaces. Hard work and ambition are the same, the will to pursue some goal, whatever it may be, needs to be there.
I think you're missing the point. Adventure...on a sailboat...is relatively cheap. It's just really hard.
The question is...can you handle it?
Adventure, on a sailboat, is something I can only look forward to at the moment, and I do look forward to it. For now I'm locked into the life my wife wants, with our house in the suburbs, near our families, raising our two little girls.
At the moment I'm very successful by society's standards, but I need to keep working more and more and producing more and more in order to maintain this lifestyle. By the time I'm ready to leave it all behind and spend a few years sailing, I'd like to have the sailing experience under my belt to make such a move realistic, but getting that experience seems prohibitively expensive where I live. I'm attempting to convince my wife we should move somewhere coastal, soon but not yet. Also, I'll need to get my wife and kids comfortable on a boat. It's not the money or the difficulty in cruising that bothers me, but the one thing I'm not willing to leave behind to go cruising is my family. I'd leave the house, car, job, success, career and everything else in a heartbeat, without thinking twice about it or looking back.