An audio and video podcast of my trip hitchhiking around the world by sea.
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Posts from — November 2007

Set to Sail

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

Good morning, people of the world. It is Friday, 11-30 and we are about to set sail for the Bahamas. I don’t have a lot of time to write, so I’ll do what I can.

First of all, thank you- thank you- thank you! I have received an overwhelming number of emails, notes and messages wishing me luck on this adventure. Which leads me to the first lesson of the trip, a lesson I realized before even leaving Flagstaff: It’s good to let the people you care about know you care about them. One of the first things you realize when you are leaving for a big trip is just how many people there are in your life that you care about. Not knowing when you are going to see you friends or family again stirs those feelings you know you have… just don’t realize how deeply you do. Saying good bye is tough, but I think worth it, if only for the fact that you are reminded (and hopefully expressive) of just how much you dear those around you are. Ok, now put your hankies away and let’s get back to business.

Another thing that became clear recently is how little anyone knows just what I am doing. “Sail the world” is kind of a broad statement, I know. But the truth is I don’t entirely know what I’m doing. And when it comes to sailing I know NOTHING (a third thing that has become clear). 3 weeks ago I still had a job and sailing was just an idea. Today I am at dock in Florida getting ready to hop on a 33′ Pearson Van Guard sailboat, with Capitan Dan and one other friend leaves on December 4.

Here’s what I do know. I ran into Dan 4-5 weeks ago at a friends house. Dan and I went to college together but he was younger so we were not much more than acquaintances. We hung out before my last “round the world adventure” (, in May of 2006. This was the first I’d seen Dan since then. He told me he was going to sail around the world and invited me to join. What’s funny is that now as I look back, I’m not entirely sure I was even invited to do the trip with him… but somehow that’s was the conclusion I reached. (Here’s a lesson for you… If ever inviting Derek to do something be VERY clear on just how involved you do or do NOT want him to be.) Anyway, I call Dan a couple weeks later to ask if he is serious, before I quit and turn down a couple great jobs. He says yes. I say yes. Bam! I’m in Florida about to sail.

Now for some your most common questions:

Where are you going? Well the goal is to literally sail around the world. But exactly what route is yet to be determined. Well get to the Bahamas and then we’ll see. The purpose of this trip is not just to sail around the world, but to make it meaningful as we do. Stop at countries. Get involved. Lend a hand here and there. There is no set route or schedule. Yesterday as we traveled from store to store, picking up supplies and looking at maps, I think we came to the conclusion we will travel through the Bahamas, sail around Cuba to Jamaica and then cut across to Central America. That’s the plan as of today.

How big is the boat? It’s funny how big this question was and how concerned everyone was when I didn’t know. But I finally found an to answer your question. The boat we are sailing on is a 33′ Pearson Van Guard (Google to find out more). There a great story about this too but to save time I will only mention that Dan traded his boat for this one with some guy he met maybe 3 weeks ago. The boat has already been around the world twice, in case you are wondering. Here’s another fun fact: top speed of the boat is 6 knots or approximately 7 miles an hour. Did I mention that is the TOP speed?

How often have you been sailing? Never. Not one day. Not one hour. Never. Am I nervous? A little, although I think this has all happened too fast to get too nervous. Ask me in 2 days. Already they are taking bets how long it will take before tossing my sea worthy cookies overboard.

How well do you know Dan? I would call him a good friend, although I really don’t know him all that well. We know each other from Grand Canyon University (represent!), but I think we were 3 years apart. I can say there are few people (if any) that I would rather do this with. He’s adventuresome, well traveled, qualified (experience and coast guard certified) and he appreciates a good prank on occasion. He also shares the drive to do something to better this world.

Are you excited/nervous/sad? Yes. Yes. Yes. Again, everything happened so quickly it is difficult to get my head around, but yes. I am excited just looking at maps puts a little wind in my sail. Nervous, for sure. Especially considering I’ve never sailed and don’t know if I get sea sick. The idea of 10 days without seeing land is also hard to wrap my head around. Sad, yes. To say goodbyes with out really knowing when I will see people again can choke a guy up. Even a tough cat like myself.

So, there it is. The last blog before setting sail. I’ll try to upload a couple pictures and some videos if I get a chance. Otherwise, I’ll post again once I get to the Bahamas.

November 30, 2007   3 Comments

A New Sailsman

Well, your votes are in. I asked you on my blog. I made some phone calls. Heck, I even asked the check out lady at the grocery store. When given the choice between taking a great job or the adventure of a lifetime, almost unanimously you went with the adventure. You all gave some good advice, but it was when my mom called me one day and after a long, uncomfortable pause said, “I can’t believe I’m about to say this… I think you should do it. I didn’t raise my kids to live in fear…”, that’s when I knew what I had to do.

It’s funny-two weeks ago I still didn’t know what I was going to do. I sat on a plane, gazing out the window as islands of clouds floated by. What do I do? I have a good job with the Grand Canyon Railway. I have even better job opportunities, and then there was that other little thing. You know, that whole “sail around the world thing”. Just hours before, I glanced over the faces of travel agents encouraging them to “sell what you believe in, do what you love… life is too short and this country too great to not be happy doing what your doing.”

As most of you know, I worked on and off with Grand Canyon Railway since I was in High School. Started as a Coach Attendant, finished college and joined the sales team. Then after more than 5 years in sales, I decided it was time to follow a dream of mine. So April 1, 2006, I left the train, bought an “around the world ticket” and spent the next 5 1/2 months traveling.

When I  decided to travel, I wasn’t in search for some spiritual enlightenment. It wasn’t to find myself. I didn’t do it to change the world… I just wanted to see it.  And that I did: China, Southeast Asia, India, Europe. Country by country I worked my way across the world. Then I returned Flagstaff, and within weeks the GCR invited me to rejoin the “team”. Well after 9 months of retirement a job sounds like a pretty good idea. So I climbed back on board the train. But it wasn’t the same. Different management. Different owners. The job was mostly the same, but it didn’t take long to realize something else was different… me.

It’s kind of hard to explain. It’s like going through life thinking your vision is pretty good. Not perfect, of course, but not bad. Then one day you get submersed in different cultures and it’s like finding a pair of glasses. Gradually you realize things were not as clear as you once thought. It’s not that your vision was bad, but things got a little more clear. Unfortunately, I realized about 6 months after rejoining the railway, that things started to fade.  I wasn’t inspired any more. Not by art, not by people, not by life. It was time for change.

And that’s a big reason why a guy who has never been sailing a day in his life, walked into work less than 2-weeks ago, to join a friend he kind of knows to sail round the world.  Change. Opportunities like this don’t knock too often. When they do… I think you answer.  Live without regret and you’ll never have to ask yourself “what if”. That is of course unless you’re asking, “What if I get sea sick?”. But I guess I’ll find that out soon enough!

November 21, 2007   4 Comments

So it begins…

I’m sorry and you’re right. I’ve pretty well had my fill of breakfast burrito. I’m telling you, this corporate gig is taking up A LOT of my time. But I hope we can get past that because I need your advice. I know, I know. We don’t talk. I don’t call. And then one day I show up on your doorstep with big sad eyes, and want something from you?!? It’s not fair, you’re right… but pleeeeaaase.

My life is at a crossroads. And when it rains it pours. Right now I have all kinds of opportunities knocking. All good. Some great. For the sake of time I’ll run two by you. Please consider each carefully and then get back with me:

Life Option 1:

As many of you know, I have always wanted to live in the Northwest. The evergreens, the mountains, the ocean, the people. I love it. Specifically, Portland has a special place. Well I had a shot earlier in the year when Princess Cruises interviewed me for a Regional Manager Position… in Portland. I was runner up to a guy who already lived in Portland and was working for a different cruise line in the same position.

Then out of nowhere I get this lead that another position opened for a different cruise line. It’s almost the exact same job: Work out of home. Company car. Good pay. Cruise benefits. Live in Portland and call on Washington and Oregon. I track down the person I need to interview with, interview a couple times, and now out of over 100 applicants I am one of four. I’ll probably find out on Friday if I “got the job”. Honestly, I think I’m in the running after the last interview. I do know none of the other applicants come from cruise backgrounds. Sounds perfect, right?

Life Option 2:

I love to travel and I want to change the world. If you are reading this, you probably already know that too. Well in the past year, as I have been wearing the Public Relations cap at the Grand Canyon Railway (our PR Director left), I had the opportunity to host several groups of travel writers. Travel, write, and have someone else pay. Not bad. So I had toyed with the idea that if I did not have a good job lead by the new year I might try my hand at travel writing. Take another trip and see what I can make of it.

Now the kicker. I have a friend from college who shares the same see the world passion as I do, if not more so. He’s done the crabbing thing in Alaska. He’s built houses in Ireland. He’s traveled. I recently met up with him as he was passing through Arizona and he told me he was planning on sailing around the World… and I could come if I wanted to. Sail around the World? Are you kidding me? It would change your life. So the idea is this: Pack my bags (again). Grab my camcorders, my camera, bring my laptop and sail. Sail AROUND the World. Meanwhile I take this silly little blog to the next level. Look for sponsorship, my own website, video blog, the whole nine. Then get on the boat, and sail. And here’s the beautiful thing, bit by bit maybe make a difference on the human level. Pull in to port in some country and build a house for a family. Report on the human condition every step of the way. Then a year and a half later return to this sweet country, find my way to Portland and… and who knows what.

There’s a story there somewhere. The risk for sailing? Well staying alive. (Just kidding mom–it’s totally safe and the boats already been around the world twice. MOM, it’s fine!) Actually the biggest risk is that I’ve never actually sailed. In fact the only time I spent even a night on a boat was in Thailand when I returned to the same port I left from after a full night of “sailing”. Will I like it? Can I handle it? That’s the risk. But isn’t that what life is… risk. Worst case scenario, I leave. I fly back with my puny sailor tail tucked between my legs and whimper back to, to Portland. Problem is I won’t have a job, much less a sweet job like the one I think I’ll be offered in a couple of days.

What to do? What to do? Currently I’m taking a poll. So tell me what you think.

Cruise… or… sail?

November 20, 2007   No Comments

A podcast and an image just for you!

Smac dat

This is a posting with various bits in it. It was posted from Williams! Woot. Ta-Ta GCR!

November 20, 2007   No Comments