In the previous post on minimalism I mentioned that I look at some boats and say “that’s good enough.” Here’s what I mean:
What’s wrong with that other than the fact it’s not a gold-plater? In fact it has many advantages not the least of which is with such shallow draft it will be able to tuck up into wonderfully quiet anchorages unavailable to most other boats.
The actor Sterling Hayden wrote the following in his autobiography, Wanderer:
“Many men say, ‘I’ve always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can’t afford it.’ What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of ‘security.’ And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine–and before we know it our lives are gone.
” ‘What does a man need–really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in–and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all–in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.
” ‘The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it the tomb is sealed.’ ”
Thoreau, the avatar of simple living said:
“Why do you stay here and live this mean moiling life, when a glorious existence is possible for you? Those same stars twinkle over other fields than these.”
The cost of a person’s boat doesn’t make the stars twinkle brighter for the gold -plater than it does for the minimalist sailor. I’m reminded of that when I remember two very different approaches to the cruising life I encountered on the Rio Dulce back in ’92. One of the nicest boats on the river was a big, beautiful trawler-type boat named Old Huguenot , around 60 feet or so. It sparkled and shined, had professional crew and really was pleasing to the eye. A boat anyone could be proud of. It was easily in hock to a bank for a serious seven figures.
At the same time there was a beat up 25 foot sailboat owned by a young guy in his 30s with a yen to wander. He’d bought the boat in Tampa, Florida, for $1,500. It had exactly two sails, the main and a working jib. It was equipped with a single-burner stove, a VHF radio with six channels and a small compass. Yet there he was on the Rio Dulce. It was great fun to see the bearded sailboat skipper and the owner of the nicest boat on the river sitting side by side at one of the marina bars sipping a frosty Gallo beer together. As Thoreau, again, points out:
“This the only way, we say; but there are as many ways as there can be drawn radii from one center.”