300px-Wisdom_Path_21

Convention and Tradition are a Trap

First – a quick apology about the tardiness of this particular post, I’ve been fighting with my Mac and my external hard drive for a couple of weeks and things still aren’t back on track.  You may also find it a bit philosophical/introspective, but I’ll let you be the judge. So, with that said – here’s my post.

“Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in’.”  – Ronald Reagan

 

Fighting Convention and Tradition

The last couple of weeks have felt like I was fighting both Tradition and Convention, two things I don’t put much stock in.  Not that I don’t appreciate the value of them, I’m fighting the notion that they’re a reasonable explanation for someone’s actions or belief system.  Marriage, children, organized religion, and a traditional American middle-class life have been at the heart of this particular debate.  I’ll be the first to admit it – speaking out against convention and tradition make people very uncomfortable.  And that’s not really my goal.

But, the unconventional and the non-traditional don’t have a support system – by definition.  They need a voice, and I have the sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one who feels that way.  That suspicion was confirmed recently by a guy I’m privileged to call my friend and that’s a couple of decades my senior.

Photo of Wisdom Path

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s our Skype conversation:

Friend:  “[Time is] all any of us have dodo, it’s all about how we use/waste it.”

Me:  “Maybe, but most people don’t have 5 years to just f*ck off (speaking about my trip).  Or maybe they just can’t figure out how to finance 5 years of f*cking off.” 

Friend:  “Not so sure. We sort of decide what we are going to do. Go into the Army, go to college, get a job in a factory.  It’s not that they don’t have the time, it’s the lack of courage to take risks.”

Me:  “That’s probably true too.  And there’s this idea that your life is supposed to be kinda cookie-cutter… Get a job, find a lady, have some kids, get a house, give up and relegate yourself to a mediocre existence.”

Friend: “That’s the f*cked up American template, for sure.”

Me:  “I have to admit – it sounds good because it would be so much easier and there’s so much pressure to just do that… but then I’d be dragging my knee around every corner on the motorcycle just for the tiniest bit of adrenaline.”

Friend:  “It’s not easier. It’s harder. And it’s a f*cking trap.”

Now, if this was some college-age punk or another friend of mine who was an adrenaline junkie – I’d probably dismiss this conversation as ego-polishing.  But this friend is over 60, has a child, a wife, a house, and a nice BMW motorcycle that I’m happy he chooses to ride with me and my motorcycle.

 

Old News - canon rebel t2i

(Photo credit: @Doug88888)

“It’s Tradition” or “It’s Conventional” Aren’t Answers

That  subtitle says it all.  If approached at the end of my life, when someone asks why I did something or lived a certain way – the only answers I don’t want to give are the unexamined answers:  “It is tradition” or “I gave into societal pressure” or “It was conventional.”   Specifically in the realm of marriage, children, religion and the mundane life of most middle-class Americans.   They say our American Middle Class is disappearing – maybe, but I’m not convinced there is much we should save.

wedding rings

Photo credit: Wikipedia

On marriage:

I don’t believe marriage is for most of us, certainly not me (yet). It’s an archaic institution that has long outgrown it’s purpose, and if you simply look around – you’ll see that we’re not as inclined (as a species) to follow through with it as we once were.  First time marriage has less than a 50% success rate, second time marriages are successful about 33% of the time, and third marriages have a remarkably shitty success rate of 27%.  And for what benefit would one take this risk?  I don’t see much logic in it, until much later in life.  People’s goals, ambition, and focus change – often very quickly and in this day in age “forever” is much longer than it was.  There simply isn’t a compelling reason for it anymore besides Convention and Tradition – and you know how I feel about that.

On children:

I think overpopulation is a real concern and having more than a couple of children at this day in age is either:  a) irresponsible (as in:  I didn’t take the proper precautions and now I have 5 kids) or b) selfish (as in: I love kids and I want them, they make me happy) or c) stupid (as in:  I didn’t think about it)

That get your fur up a little bit?  Well, let me explain.  First – exponential growth is crazy stuff, do some reading or just look at this graph of human population growth:

Graph of Human Population Growth

The graph above can be found here. And the argument that it’s not first-world population growth is bullshit too – a child in the US consumes 66 times the resources that a child in India does.  We may not be growing as rapidly, but our waste and overconsumption is serious stuff. Where are we going to be by 2083?  About 10 BILLION people.  If you’re in the US and reading this, you may not care – but do a bit of traveling and you’ll see the horrible impact we’re having on the environment as humans.  Ever been to a landfill, seen a trash city, or heard about the island of plastic in the Pacific?   Again – forgo the tradition and convention, having more kids isn’t helping anything.

 

English: World Religions by percentage accordi...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

On organized religion:

I believe it’s a nothing short of a form of mental slavery.  If you really believe in your organized religion, I’d encourage you to think about why.  We all know it’s not logic or scientific discovery that led you there, so what was it? My hypothesis is it’s society/tradition/convention that encourages it.  It’s fairly common knowledge that children are most often persuaded in religious preference by their parents.  And childhood indoctrination is something that people are becoming more and more aware of and against – prominent authors that are critical of it include:  Nicolas Humphrey, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins – who argues childhood indoctrination is actually child abuse.

I’m not sure I’m qualified to tell anyone how to raise children or what to believe – but I find freedom, numbers, science, and logic compelling – and it seems like every organized religion I know of has worked very hard to remove those things from their organization.  Even worse – studies show that the more educated and intelligent you are, the less likely you are to believe in organized religion – a foreboding statistic if you also realize the sheer numbers of religious folks.

English: Suburban tract house in California

Photo credit: Wikipedia

On the traditional American middle-class:

It sounds horrible to me.  I’m supposed to relegate myself to some type of indentured servitude, where my masters are children, the economy, a flawed society, some corporation, and some customers.  Have we made all of this technology and all of this progress for this? What’s funny is that we, as Americans, have these “epidemics” that involve things like obesity and prescription drug addiction.  And in true American form, we sue and blame everyone else without taking a hard look inside.  What’s missing from our lives that leaves us with holes that we fill with prescription drugs and fast food? Everything.  Our connection with nature (and the perspective that brings) has suffered noticeably.  Our connection between food and nature and activity has suffered as well – to the point that we, as a culture, criticize people who continue to work to hunt and bring (natural, high-quality) food to the table.  And as hunters we’ve done a shitty job of only hunting for things that we bring home and only shooting what we can/will eat.

 

But back to the subject:  the traditional, American, middle-class life holds nothing for me.  I not only am uninterested in it, I’m uninterested in the value system it relies on, the consumerism it breeds, and the lack of freedom we end up with by following that route.  Is the dream really to have a mortgage, multiple car payments, two weeks (if you’re lucky) of vacation, no time to pursue hobbies and interests, no time and energy to workout and enjoy nature, and the stress and pressure all of that brings?  If that’s the American Dream, I beg you – let me wake up, it sounds nightmarish.

 

Like a Bad Dream

Photo credit: Keoni Cabral

 

Alright Nate – we get it, what’s your point? 

 

My point is this:  if you’re leading an unexamined life, just going with the flow – I believe you’re cheating yourself.  Examine your life, your belief systems, and your goals – and if that examination leads you away from Tradition or Convention, GOOD.  Convention and Tradition are a trap – break the chains!

Showing the strain

Photo credit: Brian Smithson

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

Convention and Tradition are dead people’s baggage – you don’t need it and you can give it back.  It’s perfectly legitimate, and even noble, to lead a non-traditional, non-conventional life.  In the next two years I’ll be getting off my soapbox and practicing what I preach (with The Nomad Trip) – it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google Plus, or subscribe to the blog by clicking here.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Teliga

How to Finance Travel

As you may or may not know, I’ve decided to circumnavigate in 2017 and decided to keep a travel blog to document the process.  This post is about how I hope to finance travel (for 5 years).  It’s definitely not going to be easy and it’s definitely going to take some planning and hard work.  But – in the spirit of transparency, I wanted to share what I’ve learned and the avenues that I’m considering.  So, on to how to finance travel:  let’s start with the requirements.

finance travel

(Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Financial Requirements

Here are my financial requirements:

  • Toward the end of 2016 I need $150,000 cash (for the boat)
  • From 2017 on:  I’ll need about $2,000 per month (to be comfortable)
  • If I want internet connectivity (and I do) it’s an additional $1,000 per month
  • Safety net of $5,000 at all times, starting 2017

I plan on sailing about 5 years – the minimum total cash I’ll need is $215,000 for the trip.  Of that I expect to (conservatively) recoup about $90,000 from the sale of the boat when I return.   If I want Internet connectivity the cost increases – it’s $275,000 and the same amount recouped when I return.  Bummer, that’s a boatload of money and a big goal.

To increase the complexity of this – I want to have some appreciating assets to offset the massive expenditure I’m about to have. Once again – a big goal… But I refuse to give up, this is a very first-world problem and can be solved.  So, the question remains – how to finance circumnavigation?

 

How to Finance Travel – Brainstorming Some Ideas

So I’ve been thinking, and here are my revenue options (that I know of):

  • Start a website that makes money (travel blog, membership, or ?)
  • Record the trip and monetize it somehow (movie, book, podcast, or ?)
  • Allow friends/family to donate (not something I’m fond of)
  • Sell spots to come spearfish with me while I’m traveling (very limited market)
  • Sell partial ownership of the boat to offset the boat expense (iffy on this – partners complicate things)
  • Offer freediving training while I travel (have to become a better diver and it requires planning/coordinating)
  • Use Kickstarter as a means to finance a film series that I promote (I’m going to write about this, I’m open to ideas here)
  • Get trip sponsors from lifestyle companies (Costa Glasses, Riffe Spearguns, or ?)
  • Invest in Real Estate (but that requires a manager, and doesn’t have huge cashflow unless you invest huge $)
  • Start a company and sell it for a bunch of $ within two years (or be able to operate it virtually part-time)

finance travel

(Photo credit: jakeandlindsay)

I’ve started some things….

So far, I’ve taken a couple of steps toward some of the above.  Here’s what I’ve done to date:

  • Started 3 blogs (including this travel blog, and it’s a TON of work) – I’ll link to them soon, I’m switching domains now
  • Started a software company with a co-founder (AutoProjex – don’t judge too harshly, it’s in beta)
  • Been looking hard for a four-plex (the market is really hot here in Austin)
  • Kept my full-time job (but the sheer amount of work is taking its toll)
  • Let one person commit to buy-in on the boat (I’m not sure if I’m going to let anyone else do it)

On those blogs…

  • I have one that I’m centering around business growth (I know enough about this to make a solid start) – I expect to put AdWords on this one and generate a small amount of money from this.  Hopefully a little from affiliates too.
  • I have one that I’m centering around freediving training (I know enough to train any new or mid-level diver) – I expect to gain a following, rank up in SEO and then deliver actual online training via video for a fee (membership).
  • I have this travel blog that I’m centering around my trip, the prep, etc and I hope to be able to document my thoughts and journey well-enough that it’s valuable to a certain audience, some sponsors, or ???

On the software company…

  • We’re creating a way to automate construction management for SMB construction companies (and eventually all contractor-based companies)
  • I expect to work a minimum of 50-70 hours a week on it, and I’ve begun outsourcing some of the work that is time consuming
  • We’re developing it based upon the Lean Methodology, but we have an Ace in the Hole – we have access to some pre-developed project-management software
  • I don’t know what I’m going to do when I leave for the trip – if we survive that long I’ll worry about it then.  Ideally I’ll have my portion of the work down to 10-15 hours/week (when I’m traveling) and when I get back I can work the way I like to work – 70(ish) hour/week sprints.
  • If I can’t do that, I’ll work out someone to replace me in the day-to-day and I can work in the SkunkWorks department when I want to come home and work hard.

On finding sponsorship or creating a series of videos/podcasts…

This is going to be challenging, especially considering my work schedule right now.  But, my thought is that if I can video a big chunk of the trip – including underwater, remote villages, epic spearing/diving – I should have some pretty damned unique content.  I don’t know of a single other person (in the world) that’s doing anything similar – and certainly no travel blog that could compete.  Hopefully the volume of original content will be worthy of some sort of viewership or monetizaton.

A tactic I plan on using here is to invite top-notch freedivers, sailors, adventure travelers, travel bloggers, or spearos out from time-to-time to do interviews and to guest-star.  I work best in a collaborative environment, and I think some of the people I contact will be pretty hard-pressed to say no.

Do I expect this to finance travel?

Short answer:  I have no idea.

Long answer:

  • I expect the software company to be generating a fair amount of revenue by 2017, but it’ll be really dicey the first two years.
  • I expect the combination of all blogs to (hopefully!) generate $1k/month or so – so I can justify having an Internet connection on the boat.
  • I hope to get a couple of sponsors to provide a monthly stipend (how much?) if I include them in my content
  • I hope to use Kickstarter to finance pieces of the trip (by offering as rewards – co-hosting the content, name mentions in content, or even a week on-board in a certain area).  I have no idea if this will work, but it’s a thought.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m still very much in the “ideation phase” so please – share any ideas you have.  And subscribe to the blog if you want to stay in touch!

Enhanced by Zemanta
Bahamas-001-768x1024-710x2701

The Bahamas Sailing Adventure (my beta)

bahamas sailing adventure

I call this “my beta” because I wasn’t really sure that I could handle being stuck on a sailboat for more than a week, with the same crew, and be comfortable without being connected to the world.  Good news is “my beta” was an awesome experience, one that I’d like to duplicate for much, much longer -my next adventure is another sailing adventure.

The Plan

Pretty simple – we wanted to get away from the Christmas rush, go somewhere remote, and have a sailing (bareboat) adventure.  Problem was we needed someone much more qualified than I to skipper the boat. I had just the guy; now I needed to convince him to come with us.

deserted island

A typical Bahamas island

This started a long, and relatively stressful period where I told everyone I knew about it and hoped that someone would jump at the chance.  It was like herding cats.  Schedules, budgets, and desires had to be evaluated, then aligned.  Our goal was to keep the entire trip under $2K per person, including airfare (which was pricey).  We managed, but it wasn’t by much.

The Boat

our boat

Ended up being a pretty small Beneteau (“bendy toy” as our captain called it) in order to account for a constantly changing number of crew, everyone’s budgets, and everyone’s comfort.  We rented from a French operation down there – Navtours. I’m happy to report that the boat was in good shape and the Navtours crew were pretty easy to work with.  No complaints here.

The Crew

As with any sailing adventure – our crew grew, then shrunk – got as big as 9, but eventually settled at a modest number:  5.  This was perfect – the captain had plenty of room, and each couple (there were two) shared a berth.  We ended up at 2 girls and 3 guys, an excellent mix.

a room aboard

A room on the boat

After we got firm commitments, I fronted the boat deposit and wrangled everyone into a set timeline.  Then I spent the rest of my time gathering funds (which I hate doing). Then everything was set and we were all scrambling to get the right gear – freediving gear, spices we wanted to cook with, and general boatwear so that everyone was happy during our little sailing adventure.

The spearing gear was a PITA to secure; seems like everyone wanted long, lightweight polespears – but nobody wanted to pay for the Riffe Carbon Pole-Spear (which I really like, but it’s pricey).  So I bought the spears that everyone wanted, and as it turns out, the one thing everyone would complain about.

No worries though – we got it done.

Finally together

It seemed like our sailing adventure got here too quickly, but not nearly fast enough.  I’m convinced that planning a vacation is almost as much fun as the vacation itself (the anticipation!). After a grueling couple of weeks at work for everyone (getting ready to leave for 9 days without communication sucks) – we were off.

Myself, my girlfriend and another couple met at the airport and went through the typical delays and confrontation with TSA as we tried to explain what all the gear was, without using the word “spear” or “spearfishing”.  Our captain is the definition of a “lone-wolf” and we were left to hope that he’d make it there and find the boat.

view from plane

View from plane

We took a small plane from Miami to Nassau and then begin navigating the city to find our harbor and port – without getting shafted by a local taxi driver.  We negotiated a (semi) fair rate, and before we new it we were headed to a marina – the wrong marina.

Finally, there we were – looking at our tiny floating home (for the next 9 days).  I was in a hurry to get under way but our captain (in true form) decided to walk.  So, we waited.  I had my first beer, got the gear on the boat, and we ate our most expensive meal of the trip at the marina.

Big buger

That’s a big burger…

Shopping:  Wow, never shopped like this before.  We bought so much of everything – but it turned out damn near perfect.  After loading up the stuff I wanted, I rolled to my favorite spot – the liquor store.  Beer is expensive, rum is cheap!  Normally this wouldn’t be a problem – but the occasional beer after diving is really, really nice. I bought a little bit of beer and a bunch of red wine and rum.

Since our modus operandi for our sailing adventure was to complicate everything – we decided to stock up on groceries and alcohol without planning our ride back to the marina.  Luckily the locals are forgiving of us, dumb, not-so-great-at-being-self-sufficient tourists.  Other than that, we did keep the tourist thing kinda low-key; nobody wore a fanny pack.

First Days

We were relieved that our captain found our boat and went through the necessary familiarity training and inspection.  That night was a restless one, we spent it at the dock and I was more than ready to be diving and sailing.

under motor

The next morning came and we were off fairly early.  We sailed a little, but mostly we just wanted to get somewhere we could dive.  So we headed to the nearest island, took the dingy out, and found some decent reef. It was surprising to me how hard it was to find a decent spot to dive – but that day I found a couple of holes with fish and snagged my first lobster, snapper and grouper.

snapper, grouper, lobster

Bowl of snapper, grouper, and lobster

The next day was pretty neat – we dove the same spot and we managed to take home lobster, grouper, snapper, and even a decent amberjack.  Note to self: shooting and landing an amberjack with a polespear is noticeably different than landing one with a speargun…

ben with a nassau grouper

Ben with a Nassau Grouper (they match)…

We feasted that night and spend the rest of the night drinking rum and wine and listening to our captain tell stories about his circumnavigation.  We all knew this was a really lame “sailing adventure” compared to an 8-year circumnavigation, and his stories only reinforced that we needed to make this leap… The next stop was a little marina. We explored an island there and found some cool reef to dive on the other side.  That piece of the reef wasn’t very fruitful, but we managed.

marina

Grafitti – island style

 

big lobster

Big lobster

Over the next few days, the reef ended up being productive for us – we harvested what we needed to eat and did some pretty amazing diving. Dan was the star of the trip, landing a 25 pound black grouper with a tri-tip polespear.  To be clear – this is a hell of a feat.  The tri-tip polespear he was diving with is meant for lionfish shooting (an invasive species), and hadn’t killed anything more than a small snapper. But, that day he managed to sneak up on a grouper (that I couldn’t get close to) and stun him with the tri-tip polespear.  Then he smacked the grouper again, and quickly pulled him to the boat.  In fact, when I caught up with Dan next – his grouper had just regained his senses and Dan was trying to get him into the boat…

big black grouperbig black grouper

A respectable Black Grouper

During this time the highlights included playing with some nurse sharks, seeing (and being a little afraid of) sea turtles with heads bigger than ours, and catching more lobster than I could eat (but everyone else made up for my lacking in this department).

swimming with nurse sharks
Playing with the sharks

Final days

Things never did “wind down”, but we spent some time just hanging out in what are some of the most beautiful parts of the Earth.  In hindsight – if it would have wound down, it wouldn’t have been a sailing adventure. Clear water, cool breezes, and great friends made it a truly amazing experience.

just hagning out

Just hanging…

There was an interesting point; where we had eaten so much lobster (at least twice a day, every day) that we would find them and leave them.  Great problem to have, right? Hell, we were going to go back to port with 1/2 a grouper – it seemed like food was everywhere.  Everything said and done, when we got back to port we had only one fillet left and some snacks – almost perfect planning.  Naturally, our stash of alcohol ran out a little too early – but we were probably better for it.

another big lobster

 

The only thing I pulled out of the ocean that no one would cook/eat was an octopus.  Only one other crew member was interested in helping me prepare the octopus so I ended up returning it to the ocean – bummer, I really like calamari.

I catch an octupus

It was time to head back to port, and a good portion of the last day we spent running around Nassau.  We even mingled with the brash, annoying cruise-ship travelers for a bit before finding our way back through the more genuine parts of the city.  Speaking of genuine – Nassau, like many other tropical destinations – is littered with fancy storefronts on a single, main drag.  But in the interior – it’s quite poor (maybe even desperate).

cruise lines

Never did we feel threatened, but when we were walking through parts of the town we had police officers slow down and ask us if we were lost… Which is never a great sign.  It may not have meant much, our light skin made us stick out like sore thumbs.

Going home (whatever that means)

Actually getting ready for the flight was less painful than it usually is, but no less sobering.  Our sailing adventure was over.  While we were all fine with returning (the trip had been awesome!), none of us were quite ready to give up the experience.

Bahamas sunset

Special thanks to Ben, Dan, Kristen and Tess – couldn’t have made this happen without an awesome crew.  And thanks for agreeing to come with me, on what is (I hope) our very first sailing adventure in a long string of sailing adventures – stretching all over the world.

I’d like to connect with you – and the easiest way to stay tuned is to subscribe by clicking here.

Enhanced by Zemanta
big wahoo

Sharks and Big Wahoo – A Spearfishing Trip

Big Wahoo

A typical catch for Jeremy.

Spearfishing big wahoo is still one of the most challenging things I do.  They’re the fastest fish in the ocean, have soft flesh, are beloved by sharks, and make blinding runs after shot.  Landing a monster takes the right gear, a bunch of patience, and some tactics you can only learn with experience.  I’ve made several multi-day trips into some of the best big wahoo hunting area on earth, but every time I’m humbled.

It was a good trip – solid divers, an epic spot, and (finally) a weather window we could head out (over 100 miles) into the Gulf.  Sharks and big wahoo are the norm here and we love it.

Almost everyone had been to the spot, and we had a captain who could regularly put us on big wahoo (check him out here).  There was a new guy, but he seemed solid enough for a run out there – as long as he didn’t freak out when he saw the sharks.  None of us would blame him if he did, we saw hundreds of sharks and big wahoo and usually had a couple of close calls on every run.  It’s not an exaggeration either – hell, a good friend of ours can’t land a wahoo without it being at least partially consumed by sharks (that’s him in both pics).  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

big wahoo

Jeremy feeding the sharks again.

Getting it Together

The plan started about a month in advance with plane tickets purchased from Hawaii and California to Houston.  Everyone arrived at IAH at the same time and we loaded up enough gear to outfit a small spearing army.  I’ve always wondered what other people at the airport thought as they heard us explaining to airline employees what was in our 7ft long, 100lb bag.  Even worse – if you accidentally let slip it’s a “speargun” or that it’s “spearfishing gear.”

Back to the story – we were going spearfishing and our target was big wahoo.  Our friends were here and we were stoked.  Excited talking, catching up, and rough jokes took all of 3 seconds to erupt – we knew we were going to have a crazy trip.  Nobody ever sleeps the night before (except for our captain) and everyone’s up early (again – except for our captain).   So we’re up, everyone get’s their fishing licenses and we head to the marina – cold, tired, but buzzed with excitement.

Big Wahoo
Prepping the boat.

We load a ton of extra fuel, some tanks (in case a fish gets tied up deep), too much processed food, some beer to trade for shrimp – and we’re off.  The trip runs about 6 or 7 hours one way, if we have a good sea and no mechanical issues.  I try to sleep but smashing through the waves and the constant smell of gasoline (from the fuel on the deck) keeps me awake.  We usually arrive sometime in the afternoon and start getting ready to enter the frigid water.  After a couple of passes we find the fish on radar and the first group makes the jump.

The air is so damn cold that none of us want to wet down our wetsuits to get them on, or take off the 3 layers of outer clothing necessary to don said wetsuits.  It’s in the 40’s (not all that cold to some), but there’s wind and we have to get wet to get in the wetsuit.  Without fail, out come the jokes about cold weather and naked dudes, not original – but consistent.  Then we untangle our gear – floatlines, spears, and giant spearguns are strewn all over the deck like some giant’s sewing kit.
Big Wahoo Gear

Too much gear.

Somewhere in the Gulf…

It’s hard to get the currents right – it usually takes a couple of runs to put us on the fish, but we get there. Somebody sees both sharks and big wahoo immediately.  A diver misses a big wahoo pretty quickly, not judging distance correctly and taking a shot that’s out of range.   The new guy is yelling about giant amberjack and we all secretly hope he doesn’t shoot one – it’ll take a few of us to help him get the fish in. Not that we have anything against amberjack (or new guys), but we’re here for wahoo.  And if you’re looking for a recipe for disaster, you don’t have to look much further than a green spearfisherman, a 100lb amberjack, and a bunch of deep-water sharks.

Then it happens;  someone finally sneaks up on a big wahoo and lands a shot.  And when someone has a fish on, you know it right away.  Everyone yells and at least two divers take off after the float skidding across the water (one diver for the wahoo, another to keep the sharks at bay).  There’s a noticeable tension too – it only takes a moment for the sharks to congregate on the fish.  Now it’s a fight to see who lands the fish – the sharks or us.
Big Wahoo Spearfishing

A float skidding across the water – a good sign.

This trip we landed about 2/3 of the wahoo we shot, only giving away 1/3 of our catch to the tax-man (sharks). No problem, we’ve had way worse odds.  Hell, trip before last we were landing only about 1/3 of the wahoo we shot – the tax man was especially unforgiving.  That’s when things get a little dicey too, after the sharks get the first fish they learn quickly.  And after the finish the fish, they’re in a frenzy and you’re the only thing left in the water.

We finish up the day with a couple of big wahoo, all of our limbs, and an amberjack – the new guy couldn’t resist.

Big Amberjack

Damien with the Amberjack we hoped he wouldn’t shoot.

Nights Aboard

That night we head toward the nearest rig, tie up, and put the fuel on deck into the boat.  God it sucks.  It’s cold, we’re exhausted, and we’re hungry – the last thing we want to do before settling in for the night is get covered in fuel.  But it gets done.  Sleep sometimes comes easy – not always though.

There’s the constant tension of being thrown into the rig and waking up stranded in the middle of the Gulf among the wreckage that was your boat. Sometimes it rains, sometimes the smell of fuel lingers, and sometimes the seas pick up and you spend the majority of the night levitating ~ 2 feet off the deck. We sleep (kinda) and then it’s light outside.

offshore sunrise

The sun is a blessing and a curse. It means it’s time to get up and go get underwater (sweet!), but it means we have to leave the (relative) comfort of our beds and put on our wet, freezing wetsuits (major bummer). We finally get moving and stuff our faces with processed, sugar covered, “breakfast food” on the way back to the spot.  There’s no coffee so some of the guys are chugging energy drinks – I’m tempted but I’m also pretty sure that stuff is toxic.

Getting Wet for Big Wahoo

We’re on the spot and now we’re trying to convince ourselves that we should get in the water.  Finally the lure of big wahoo makes someone take the plunge.

Big Wahoo Spearfishing

Putting off getting in.

Freezing.  The water makes it into my wetsuit and I taste salt, I’m awake now and I’m excited about this again. The blue is calming, exciting, and I really feel at home there.  Damn I miss this, I’d do anything to be able to do this more often.  Sharks pass but there’s only mild curiosity.  A couple of small ones make a pass but a quick poke with the speargun changes their mind.  Funny how chickenshit they end up being after the first aggressive pass.

Getting in the Swing

The flashers are dropped and we’re into full hunting mode.

This is the part I love; for the next few hours nothing else matters – not my job, my bills, my dog… Nothing.

My head’s on a constant swivel, and remind myself to turn around completely every now and then.  I’m watching the other divers.  I breath in quickly, but I exhale and make it last until I count to ten.  My heart rate begins to slow and I can see that we’re drifting over the spot, rainbow runners and ocean triggerfish come to meet me at the surface.

Three purge breaths and I’m down – of course we should be alternating divers but there’s only so many dives as we drift over the spot, and our dives are typically 30-40 feet – too easy.

Fish On!

Suddenly they’re here – we have 100ft of visibility but they sneak up on us.  Like a grey ghost, they materialize out of the blue – torpedo shaped and curiously eying us.  Somehow they always surprise me when they do that. 50ft away and there’s a wall of them – all big wahoo, some in the 90-100lb range.  The closest ones glide past and I angle toward them; kicking slowly, reminding myself not point until I’m ready to shoot, and keep closing the gap.  40ft, then 35ft – and my target starts to turn and increases the gap.  I’m almost a minute into the dive and I know contractions are right around the corner.  I see the other divers angling toward the wall of big wahoo and I have a choice:  leave the fish for them or forget my rule (don’t chase fish) and chase them in hopes of closing the gap. I chose the latter and, to my surprise, he let’s me close the gap.  30ft is my max range, and I’m there.

My lungs are screaming and the contractions have started.  I need to close the gap – just a couple more feet.  One more kick… aim… the recoil disrupts my line of sight.  I manage to see steel sticking out of the fish as he screams out of sight.  And on my way up my float line tightens and my float starts moving through the water. Hit.  Damn that was awesome.

big hammerhead shark

The taxman.

The sharks and the school of big wahoo follow myself and a friend as we chase the float; I’m hoping  he can land a shot on another big wahoo while I’m chasing mine.  The chase was short, the shot held, and now my friend takes a dive to check the shot and fend off sharks while I pull the fish to the surface.  In my experience, wahoo make one blistering run and give up – this one was no exception. At the surface we’re greeted by a hungry (big) hammerhead and another of the divers.  The divers circle me, spearguns facing out while the boat hauls ass to get the fish out of the water.

 

boating a big wahoo

Loading a small wahoo.

With a fish this size and with this amount of chop, getting the fish into the boat can be a challenge – of course, it’s a challenge I’m happy to face any day of the week.  With the big wahoo onboard, it’s time to take over for the guys on the boat and give them a shot at a world record.

We hunted for the rest of the day and then the until noon the following day.  When we finally started the 6 hour ride back in, we’d boated multiple big wahoo (each), tuna, amberjack, and rainbow runner (which we ate on the boat in ceviche). Everyone is tired and happy.  We’re finally bundled back up for the ride home and we all have something to bring home for sushi, ceviche, or the grill.  More than that, we all have an experience we’ll never forget and stories we’ll tell for the rest of our lives.

When I get back I send some pictures of our catch and let people know that I’ll be bringing them fish.  That’s one of the things I enjoy about these trips – I get to provide family and friends with the best fish, fresher than they could ever buy it.

I hope you enjoyed this, it’s one of many, many spearfishing and freediving stories I have.  I’ll occasionally post these, in addition to notes and progress on my trip preparation.

Nathan's big wahoo

 

I’d like to connect with you – and the easiest way to stay tuned is to subscribe by clicking here.

Enhanced by Zemanta
catamaran

8 Reasons I Want a Catamaran

I’m pretty sure I want a catamaran for my circumnavigation.

The truth is this depends mostly upon budget. Once you have your budget, you then look at your needs, then your wants.

I’m a strong believer that you can circumnavigate in a huge range of vessels.  And that’s not based on my opinion, it’s based on sailors actually circumnavigating on a wide range of vessels.  From this guy who sailed around on a 12 footer to people who have circumnavigated on massive trimarans with full crews (they did it in 48 days, see here).  So what is the minimum size one should consider?  I don’t know.

1a

 

A friend of mine (pictured above in a local paper) has made a circumnavigation and he sailed on a 46 footer (I think).  I remember him saying that he thought 33ft is a minimum – but not any 33ft:  construction matters.  Some sailboats are made for coastal cruising and some are proven bluewater performers.  Personally, I’m most comfortable on something in the 40ft range (for monohulls).

But I’m actually looking to spend a bunch of time on the boat and I’ve been strongly persuaded by more than one cruiser that a catamaran is the way to go.  I’m pretty sold on it – except that that cost is about 1.75-2X the cost of a regular monohull. So what makes it worth the money to me?

Well, here’s my list:

1.  Catamaran’s are more stable

You spend a bunch of time at anchor (the majority of it) and it really, really makes a difference to be stable at anchor.  Sleeping, eating, entertaining, making coffee, cooking – are all much easier to do when you’re not rolling.  Any good sailor knows this and monohull advocates will tell you that you’re a crappy captain if you anchoring in spot where your rolling.  That may be true, but what’s also true is that there are sometimes limited mooring spots and that waves and weather change.

Equally importantly, while under way catamarans stay upright so walking, making food, keeping beverages upright, and fighting fish (if you’re lucky) are all made significantly easier.

2.  Catamaran’s have a larger salon

I want space to hang out, not in a hull.

Ideally I’d like the galley in that area, as well as some seating, and a bunch of windows.  Something like this (but with more windows – for ventilation in the tropics):

catsalon

 3.  Catamarans are (often) faster

You’ll certainly hear a spirited debate about this subject if you bring it up among sailors.  Monohull advocates will also remind you about how a catamaran really isn’t a sailor’s vessel.  Cool, I have no problem with that.  I’m choosing sailing because it’s cheap, it’s natural, it’s quiet, and it’s not reliant on fuel.  I couldn’t give a shit what is considered “real sailing” and what isn’t.  From what I’ve read and heard – cats are generally faster, and that’s really important on those long passages.

4.  Catamarans have shallow drafts

This one can be hard to grasp, but it’s really important.  If you have a boat with a 7-8′ draft, you’re in a very different mooring situation than one that has, say – a 4′ draft.  The draft is the distance between the waterline and the bottom of the keel (the lowest spot beneath the waterline) and reflects the shallowest water that a boat can safely navigate in.

A catamaran typically has a very small keel because it doesn’t need the stabilization of a deeper keel necessary in a monohull. Instead, for stabilization under sail it has two hulls.  The types of cats that I’m interested in (38-40ft cruising cats), typically have a 4′ draft – while a comparable monohull would typically have a 6-8′ draft.

Why does this matter?  Because a shallow draft allows catamarans to get to anchoring spots that a comparable monohull wouldn’t be able to – say a really protected, but shallow cove.  And if you’re not interested in protected spots to anchor, a shallow draft still allows you to cruise into much shallower waters (like a really beautiful patch of reef).  Or provide you with a bit of wiggle room if you’re cruising through patchy reef.

5.  Catamarans have more deck space

This gives you many, many advantages including: more room for solar panels, more room for relaxing, more room for moving around your boat, etc.  Think of it this way: if you’re going to live in an apartment for the next 3-4 years, would you prefer a 400 sq ft apartment or a 600 sq ft apartment?  Easy choice, but it costs.

6.  Catamarans have more room for a dingy

Correctly outfitted, you’ll be able to store a larger dingy, and (maybe) more importantly you don’t have to stow the dingy everytime you pick up and move.  Instead, you simply pull it up on a couple of pulleys and you’re off.  This makes a big difference – our last trip on a monohull we spent an inordinate amount of time stowing the outboard and the dingy.

7.  Catamarans have more privacy

Catamarans have a ton more privacy.  Instead of all bunking in the same hull, you can have cabins in entirely seperate hulls. Obviously for short-term trips this isn’t a big deal, but for longer trips small things can really start to grind on you when you’re sleeping just feet (or inches) from everybody else aboard.

8.  Catamarans have two engines

Last, but certainly not least -If shit breaks, and it will – you really want to have two.  Engines are pretty important, even when sailing, and being stuck without an engine is way worse than ending up with a single engine (because you have two on a cat). Pretty straightforward but really important.

 

With all that considered, here’s what I’m considering – a 38-40ft Lagoon, Leopard, Jaguar, Catana, or Fountaine Pajot.  I’m sure there are more, and if anyone has any suggestions I’m open.  Here’s an example of what I’m looking for:

cat

Disclaimer:  these are my opinions, not based upon personal experience.  My opinions are based instead on advice from others and a ton of reading. I’m probably wrong in part of this, please feel free to correct me.

I’d like to connect with you – and the easiest way to stay tuned is to subscribe by clicking here.

Enhanced by Zemanta
life of adventure

Getting Here – A Life of Adventure

 

First of all, this is a summary of my life to this point.  It’s not exceptional and probably mirrors many other people’s lives – there’s been both tragedy and triumph, adventure and boredom.  I don’t write this because I think I’m special, I’m writing it so those interested souls understand where I’m coming from.
So if you want to know my story, read on.

mypath

The Path

I’m a lucky guy.  There’s absolutely no denying it.  As a matter of fact, I’m so lucky that I’ve suffered serious guilt about how lucky I am.

I’ve survived things that other people didn’t, I have a family that’s set me up for success, and people have given me chances in my professional life.  I’ve experienced adventure that I would never be able to describe in words – from freedive spearfishing over a hundred miles offshore, to engaging in firefights outside of Baghdad, Iraq.  From learning to really ride my motorcycle, to sharing some epic diving trips in remote spots with amazing friends.

There’s been no shortage of adrenaline or adventure.  But it wasn’t always like this.

I bore you with an endless list of issues I’ve had, but in summary:  I’ve lost brothers in battle, had romantic interests violently killed, lost family members (most painfully – my father), and endured a variety of failures both personal and professional.

Honestly I don’t do well with failure and throughout the process there have been periods of serious self-doubt that border on depression.  The earth-shattering, soul-crushing kind of self doubt that makes you question every decision you’ve ever made.

Abandoning “my future.”

Early in college a friend died in a Jeep rollover and I stopped caring about college.  They ended up kicking me out on academic probation – apparently final exams are meant to be attended (who knew?).  That failure lead to a shitty manual labor job, living out of a shitty trailer, in a shitty town in Texas.  The level of people I worked with were illegal immigrants (good people) and drug addicts (sometimes good people).

I wasn’t making any money, couldn’t afford my cell phone payments and my student loan payments were beginning to pile up.

Risking my life for a different future.

Eventually I decided to join the military, not really seeing any way out (and it meant I got that adrenaline/adventure fix). I did alright in the military and really enjoyed the camaraderie and the no-bullshit attitude.  What I didn’t enjoy was the lack of real leadership (commanding isn’t leading), insistence on rules, and lack of genuinely motivated and ambitious people (nothing against any of my friends – you were the exception).  Admittedly, I also have a little bit of a problem with authority.

My career essentially ended when I was offered a promotion, and they resorted to telling me I wouldn’t last “in the real world” (meaning being a private citizen). I declined the promotion. The truth is – I was starting to realize that the war my friends and I were fighting was bullshit.  It was ruining our country, drastically increasing our national deficit, and ruining our credibility worldwide. And we weren’t doing any fighting that was satisfying, we essentially drove around waiting to get blown up. Not cool.

I couldn’t bear that level of sacrifice for a cause I didn’t believe in. So I left.

It wasn’t a particularly hard decision, but changing my view of the world was hard. I was coming from a war zone, where everyone was fighting everyday – thousands of miles from their family.  Suddenly I was dropped back into a world full of feelings, caring about people, and sensitivity.  Political correctness had run rampant and it seemed like even the most innocent jokes offended somebody.  I wasn’t a saint nor soft-spoken, but everybody sure did seem overly sensitive.

Adventure Bet

Betting on me.

I quickly found out that you have to work to be awesome in the private sector – there’s serious competition (scattered amongst complete idiots).  So I went back to school – easily made Dean’s list (until I got bored) and worked hard at learning (easy – I love learning). After I finally graduated I found out about Venture Capital, Startups, and Technology Companies and how they can deliver such a staggering amount of wealth to founders and investors.

One of my professors saw a little bit of promise in me and passed my name along to a neat little startup run by some truly passionate people.  There I met friends that I have to this day, and there I also learned alot about how to not manage people, how to deal with difficult personalities, and the in-the-trenches truths about startup life. It was an amazing learning experience and I loved it, but couldn’t wait to get out of it.

Some time in Silicon Valley.

Stanford is expensive and really difficult.  Really expensive and really difficult. I actually had to study and actually had to do homework.  And sometimes, even with a bunch of work I wasn’t excelling – something I really wasn’t used to.  And it turns out I really need friends and colleagues to work through difficult problems, something I was noticeably lacking at Stanford.  Believe it or not, the people I was in class with weren’t on my level.  They weren’t lacking in intelligence, they were all smarter than me – I’m convinced of that.  They just couldn’t talk about some of the deeper things I needed – like: philosophy, the difficulties of working inside of an early stage startup, and the underlying philosophies that had defined life and death decisions (like the ones I faced in Iraq or 100 miles offshore – fighting sharks off of recently speared fish).

My classmates at Stanford were brilliant kids, with brilliant kid worries, and I was 28 wondering what I was doing there.  To complicate things, the classes I was involved in were clearly taught by the B-Team.  Don’t get me wrong – the professors were smart, well connected guys.  But it quickly become clear that my entrepreneurship professor hadn’t ever built a company (believe it or not) and that my comp-sci teachers were overwhelmed by the amount of student requests.

It turns out that Stanford Summer Intensives aren’t my learning style.  Another failure, not in grades, but in real learning.

 

Home from Adventure

Home, whatever that means.

So I returned home to find out that there weren’t any developers willing to leave their cushy jobs to work with me on developing the “next big thing.”  And it shouldn’t have surprised me – these guys had awesome work environments already, great salaries, and challenging work ahead of them.  And I was an unproven guy without easy access to capital or any real mentorship.

So I ended up taking the advice of others and took a job.  It turns out I was pretty good at the job and actually had a bunch to contribute.  I found that I understood and contributed to sales, sales strategy, and marketing but wasn’t a huge fan of sales as a career.  More importantly, I brought an attitude of getting shit done – and it turns out that’s a really rare thing in the business world.  The business world is full of meetings, and politics, and hot air.  I was able to bypass most of it and operated by being friendly and nice, but frank and proactive.

The banality of home.

Boredom.  The only way I could stay engaged was to push hard at my job – not sleeping much, not working out, staying plugged in all the time, and sacrificing everything but the job.  If I started to enjoy any other part of my life again – I’d find that my work wasn’t important.  That feeling – that what I’m working on isn’t important is something I really, really couldn’t stand.  I was craving risk, adrenaline and adventure again.

So I started a company on the side, with an amazing co-founder and we decided we were going to attack the construction space.  The chance of failure is remarkably high – something to the tune of 90% or more.  But I’ll be goddamned if that’s going to stop me.  At the time of me writing this, things are moving but we so early that any prediction would be foolish.

Passion.

I had it, but it wasn’t wrapped around what I was doing in my day job. As a matter of fact, the stuff that I was working on (in my day job) was boring by any standard and was only really inspiring as it was a source of learning.  But when I was offshore, sailing, diving, fishing, spearfishing, exploring – I was really in my element.  If I was waiting on a monster wahoo to come in, or fighting off a shark, I was having the time of my life.

And even though I craved adventure,  I wasn’t prepared to make the monetary/professional sacrifice to move to something I enjoyed more.

Another Adventure Event

The Event.

I got a call from my sister, who was working in the Congo.  I had a habit of answering like a complete jackass, we had a great relationship – we laughed alot and  had so much fun that we were actually pretty embarrassing to be around. This one was different though, she was serious and tense – I picked up on it immediately.  Something was really, really wrong. The good news is that she wasn’t crying – so she was relatively composed and her life wasn’t in immediate jeopardy.

I’d prepared for this a million times over, she was in a sketchy situation and I was ready to drop everything, empty a couple of bank accounts, and go over there with the express intent of buying a couple of weapons and finding my sister.   I could operate with the best of them and I really didn’t give a shit – it was a lawless place, the kind I liked…  But that wasn’t it at all.

My Mom had a heart attack.  She was visiting my sister in the Congo when it happened.  Immediate grief and a sudden sinking feeling.

I’d already lost my Dad to work, stress, and a generally unhealthy lifestyle.  I couldn’t lose another parent that way.  The night I received the call, I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t do anything.  Completely helpless, I decided I wasn’t going to let work, other people’s opinions, my projects, my desire for wealth, or anything else stand in my way.  I was leaving to go sail and live a pure, simple life and I was taking my Mom with me.

So here I am, ready and (for the first time) willing to give up money and work to practice what I’m going to preach to my Mom – the value of time, following your passions, and experimenting with better ways to live.

If you’ve made it this far, I really appreciate your attention. I hope there was some value in the preceding words, that you’ll subscribe as I share my experience preparing for this transformation, and that you’ll stay with me as I continue to move forward.

I’d like to connect with you – and the easiest way to stay tuned is to subscribe by clicking here.

Enhanced by Zemanta