Friday, November 21, 2008

First Sailing Experiences

So what have I done since the epiphany of sailing? Well, as I mentioned in the old story, the first thing I needed to do was to learn how to sail, and what it would take to fulfill the dream.

My history with sailing is quite limited. I have been on many boats and even have operated a good few of them, but I have never been on a real ocean-going sailboat (that I can remember). I've putted around the St. Johns in little sailing dinghys and I've ridden sailboards. So the concept of sailing was with me, but I had a lot to learn. I also had to learn if I acutally liked sailing in the first place. To that point, it was just an idea of something I thought I would like.

In the Summer of 2007 I enrolled in a sailing school near my parent's place in St. Augustine and took the first two American Sailing Association (ASA) sailing courses: ASA 101 (the basic keel boat certification), and ASA 103 (Basic Coastal Cruising). I took a three day course to finish both certifications and passed with flying colors. Not only that, but I confirmed my suspicions that sailing was incredibly badass! The first day was going over the basics on a small J-24 (24 foot racing boat). We learned the points of sail, rigging basics, how to trim the sails, etc and ended up with a good day of light winds to learn with. I was on the boat with a team of two sons with their father. They werent as enthusiastic about it as me, and they were kind of snobbish, but I was able to get into my own world and enjoy it all. I immersed myself in everything around me so I could learn all that was possible in my short time on the water. The second and third days were spent on a boat a little more like what I will be going on off-shore, a Catalina 30. The boat was huge to me, and I was in awe of the cabin and all of the things on the boat that made it work. This was my first time on a real sailboat with liveaboard capabilities and I used the chance to explore every nook and cranny. We went into the ocean on both days and enjoyed perfect light winds and smooth seas. Below are some pictures from the last day:

The view of St. Augustine from the ocean

Me on the helm

Lovely water with critters galore!

Any time I wasnt in the cockpit learning the ropes, I was chilling everywhere I could on the deck

At the end of the course, I took my tests and got nearly perfect grades. I never enjoyed learning about something so much in my entire life, I knew this was the thing for me. Aside from learning the basics of sailing, I learned how much fun the activity is. The only thing that is more peaceful than being pushed along the water by mother nature is riding a wave on a surfboard. The two are very similar, and in my dreams, complimentary (sailing to find waves).

After the lessons, I was set to continue learning all about sailing and to improve my skills. I immediately began buying the best books I could find about sailing and off-shore voyaging. In just a few short months, I would return to the same marina and rent out a J-24 again with some friends. That day was one I will never forget, and I'll tell you about it next post

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Some Background

I've been trying to find a good way to start this blog but am having trouble. So bear with me as I begin to get everything I want to say on this thing. The focus of this blog will be the efforts I am making to achieve my dreams. As mentioned previously, there will be other crap I decide to write, but my journey to the future will be the main point. I guess the best way to start is to introduce to you who I am, where I came from, where I want to go, and how I am getting there. That is a lot to talk about, but I have a lot of time so it's not a big deal.

My dream life stems from surfing. I began surfing when I was around 10 years old and stemmed from a family who loved going to the beach. We never really lived near the beach, but we were always within an hours drive and went to the beach every year for vacations in the summer. I never had the greatest time just screwing around on the beach, so I looked to the water. Long story short, I fell in love with surfing, and it has stayed with me to this date. Surfing has and will probably remain the biggest passion in my life. There is so much to say about surfing and what it has done to influence the person I am, so I will keep that for another time.

Luckily, I had already summarized this dream in a previous blog. It was written about a year ago, and since then things have changed, and this blog will address that. So here it is:

For those who have known me a while, you obviously know I have been getting real into sailing lately out of nowhere. I usually come up with new things to involve myself in every once and a while, but this one means a bit more and is hopefully leading to a major life change in the next few years. A long time ago I decided that the one goal I would like to pursue above anything would be to sail around the world in search of surf, sights, experiences, and seeing what this place has to offer. Why take a few trips overseas when I can sail all 7 of them and see the entire world on my own?

Back in high school I used to read Surfer Magazine religiously. The walls of my room were always completely covered with Surfer Mag pages, posters and photos. And yes, I actually read the articles too. At one point they printed an article with a preface written by one of the editors. He wrote that the following story was found as a journal in a glass bottle picked up by a boater in the Pacific. What he had found was a story of a man who sold everything he had, quit his job, said goodbye to loved ones and just sailed away. He sailed across the the Pacific to Polynesia in search of surf. This is, in essence, every surfer's dream: to surf private, perfect waves on your own time without any other worries in the world. The guy eventually went insane and was lost at sea...but we will ignore that for now.

The article definitely was one of the greatest stories I have ever read. It was his full journal about the journey and it detailed the voyage, the surf, the islands and his eventual insanity. I decided back then that I want to eventually have my own boat and search for surf in some tropical sea. The thought remained with me ever since and has evolved over time. At first I thought it would be a neat thing to do for retirement. Eventually I thought if I won the lottery or stumbled upon fame and fortune, I would get the boat and go as soon as possible. The past few years I have seen my life settle into the daily grind and have started to be able to set realistic goals for myself. The sailing dream moved up in my life as a hope to do so in mid life and eventually start a charter business out of the whole deal. In the past year, however, everything changed.

The latest dream has been a combination of being in a great place in life (friends, living situation, social life, job) and having once again invested a lot of time into finding myself and what I want out of life. Earlier this year, I decided if I wanted to do this sailing thing eventually, I need to learn how to sail! So I did just that and set out to learn. This summer I took the first step and begun getting my ASA (American Sailing Association) certifications. The certifications will help me become proficient to skipper a boat around the world and will allow me to charter boats in the mean time to gain experience. I have so far finished 2 out of the 7 that I need. I am reading books all the time to prepare myself and have begun completely obsessing about it all. The thought of sailing around the world has consumed my thought process and I have even finally started turning my financial life upside down to start saving for the journey.

So what will the journey entail you ask? As of now...I dont know. Im sure the more I learn and the more time goes on, I will start to formulate exactly where I want to go. As of now, I have a rough shell of things I want to accomplish and where I want to go. In essence...I want to go everywhere on the globe. I am planning on a 2-3 year journey and have my goals set for 3 years from now (I will be 28). If I can do it earlier, I will.

I would like to do the trip with friends and family. But a commitment like that is nearly impossible for others to make and this I understand. I fully expect to solo parts of the trip and whenever someone can fly out and meet up with me, I would enjoy the company and crew. So if you are interested in being part of this, feel free to start asking me questions. I have more of this thought out in my head than I feel like writing out right now, but I'm sure the more I get into it I will start to type it all up. Of course, it would be great to have met a girl as adventurous as me to share the journey with, but I am not going to bank on it. I can hope though.

I have had a lot of goals and aspirations in life. So far, anything I have really set out to do, I have pulled off. Most of the things I think of doing (and pull off) even my closest of friends have not believed that I would actually go after. I think many of my friends and family have come to realize that when I set out to achieve something or start a new (weird) hobby, that it will either not get beyond my imagination or if it does, I am full steam ahead and will finish what I started. This is my greatest dream as of yet, hopefully all of it works out.

And there it is, my dream, my idea of the life I want to live. Over the past year I have learned an incredible amount in terms of persuing this dream, and have developed a rough plan of exactly how I can do this. This blog will start to lay the plan out and will develop over time.

That is all for now though, gotta get some work done.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I has a blog!

Welcome to my new little corner of the interwebs! I've been kicking the idea of a new blog around for a while, and after a few friends took the plunge I figured now is better than never. I am a person with a lot to say but typically without anyone to say it to. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of great friends, a beautiful and loving girlfriend, and family that I am close to; but I live inside my head and most of the time and I don't care to speak out about whats brewing in there. Mostly it's due to the fact that I am convinced no one gives a shit about the latest thing in my head, but it's also partially just because I have the bad habbit of trusting no one's opinion but my own. Especially dealing with topics such as my hopes, dreams, aspirations, and all of the little things going on in my life that until they are real, only matter to me.

This blog will be a place for me to write down my thoughts on subjects that I typically won't bring up to most people. Particularly, I want this to be a place where I can start to put ideas on paper about my future and all of the things I am doing to achieve my dreams. Each day I take some sort of step in the direction of my dreams, and I am a firm believer in being able to do whatever I want in this world if I work hard for it. I'll also post whatever comes to mind that must be posted, so tune in for a page of random crap from Erick's head.