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Posted on Oct 26, 2011 | 0 comments

“Swept” Away

Paperback Kindle Edition

Most people wouldn’t think that the best way to handle a fear of the ocean is to sail across it with no sailing experience, but that is exactly what Torre DeRoche does in her book Swept: Love with a Chance of Drowning. While it might not have been the most practical approach, her adventure certainly makes for excellent reading. DeRoche expertly pieces together adventure, suspense, and a hearty dose of humor to bring us a tale of a woman who will face her greatest fears to follow the man she loves in his quest to find himself. She finds more than a little of herself in the process.

While DeRoche downplays her own courage, from the beginning the reader can tell that she is adventurous at heart. She was living in San Francisco for a year on her own, moving there from Australia to “leave my comfort zone, work in a foreign city, enjoy some uninhibited fun, and return home in one year.” Leave her comfort zone, indeed! She falls in love with an Argentinean man named Ivan, who just so happens to be planning a trip around the world in his sailboat, Amazing Grace. When she first finds out, it seems perfect, in her own words, “the best part is, since he’s leaving, it’s a commitment-free relationship. We can date, have fun, and then go our separate ways.” She makes excellent use of irony and foreshadowing, as the reader clearly understands that they, in fact, will not be going separate ways at all, but that Torre is about to get wrapped up in the adventure of a lifetime.

One of the best moments in the book that truly summarized the tongue-in-cheek unwillingness/determination to go sailing with Ivan was when Torre was trying to decide whether she should go on the ocean voyage. “I start thinking about a conversation with my possible future grandchildren. ‘Grandma was a graphic designer when she was younger…and guess what, darlings? Grandma almost sailed to a paradise with a gorgeous Argentinean. Almost…’ Damn you, possible future grandchildren.” This is the moment that we all hope will never happen; the moment that we realize that we have passed up an incredible opportunity in favor of being safe and stable. This is the moment when Torre finally realizes that she has step out, or risk wondering “what if” for the rest of her life, and the moment where she puts out a potent challenge to her readers to do the same.

Hilarity ensues as the story continues through three ill-fated sailing lessons, a trip down to Cabo San Lucas, and their departure across the Pacific. Gwen Hamlin, the book reviewer for the website www.womenandcruising.com says this of the book, “An artist, Torre’s word pictures bring alive on the page scenes so many of us have experienced.” A travel memoir has never been so much fun and light-hearted. The people they meet and places they see are simply amazing, for many different reasons.

DeRoche spares no detail of her fear and mishaps on the ocean, of her child-like amazement at the wildlife and scenery, and that is what makes the book so good. The human side of this story is tangible. It truly makes you want to experience the thrill of seeing land after days at sea, taste the sweet coconut milk, and sip a drink on the deck of a friend’s ship watching the sunset on a tropical island.  You can feel the heartache as she sails away from friends who have adopted her as their own, and you laugh out loud through Ivan’s crazy accidents. It inspires the reader to follow their dreams and face their fears the only way you can: head first.

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Posted on Oct 19, 2011 | 0 comments

Why we choose to live life aboard

We have been extremely fortunate… we have a wonderfully healthy and exciting son, way too big of a house (there are rooms we haven’t seen for months), great cars, etc… you get the point. Our entire lives we had been told both through media and quite directly by teachers, friends, and even family at times, that we would be happy after we had just a little more money or a slightly larger house. We’ve gone through several iterations of a little more money and a slightly larger house and it isn’t fulfilling. What is fulfilling is our walks on the riverfront at lunch time, watching Carter try to figure out the world, marveling at the sunrises while hunting, talking with friends way too late in the night… life is what is fulfilling, not things.

We recognized this a few years ago but until recently were lost in the quandary of how to maximize life when we needed a constant flow of income to support our lifestyle. Living aboard is a perfect solution to this problem… at least for us. Living aboard will allow us to experience life to the fullest without the constant need for a large stream of income, all while experiencing some of the best sights and most unique people this world has to offer.

Western culture has been drifting away from reality for a while now. I was just over a friend’s house and there were two middle school girls that were good friends and hadn’t seen each other in a while. After the cursory greetings, etc they each whipped out their cellphones and began to text random people and post on their Facebook walls what they had done in the last five seconds since their last post. They then moved to the computer where more such machinations were to follow. Unfortunately it is quite normal for people to go work for 8-9 hours, start dinner, turn on the TV, and tune out of life until bedtime. In 10-20 years (hell, 10-20 days or even hours) will it matter what TV show you watched? What team won the sports game? Who the next idol is? No, it won’t. What will matter is what impact you had on the world. Whom you experienced life with. The time you were able to spend with your children. What difference you made in the lives of people you met. These are things that matter now and forever.

I don’t expect living aboard to solve any of my problems, but I expect it to give me the time to experience life. There are a lot of hardships involved with life on a boat, I get that. I don’t mean to demean the people living in western culture or even the people enjoying it, it’s just that I have found it to be unfulfilling and circular. What is the point of spinning your wheels maxing out yourself so you can buy the next great thing that you will need to replace in six months due to planned obsolescence? So you can do it all again? No thanks.

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Posted on Oct 12, 2011 | 0 comments

Who we are

We are normal (well ok, not so normal) people that have a dream to see the world and live life as it was meant to be. We both have successful careers in the healthcare industry, even in this terrible economy. We want to break free of the current cycle of trading time for dollars and dollars for more and more things we don’t need. So, we have decided to forego the fruits of our economic success and “retire” well before we are 30 and set out to see what is over the Horizon.

Around a year ago I came across the concept of live aboard sailing… and after talking with Michele about it for a while, we’ve decided to take the plunge. While some people encourage nearly wanton haste like “sell everything, buy a boat, cast of the lines” we are slightly (only slightly, mind you) more pragmatic. Our son is 11 months old this month and we aren’t comfortable having an infant/toddler on a cruiser. We don’t judge people who do, its just not for us. We plan to wait until he is around 4 years old and by that time have enough investments to be able to purchase a boat and sail to wherever Horizon (the name of our future boat, explanation to come later) might take us.

I am an IT manager of a medium sized organization. I attended one of the top computer science universities in the world, dropped out early because I hate(d) school and became a network engineer when I was 20. It has been 3 years since and I have been the IT Director of a small hospital and now of a medium sized medical practice. I am not saying all of this to try to impress anyone… I am saying this because I believe some people get obsessed with climbing a ladder somewhere and don’t stop to look around and just enjoy what they have. Time travels in one direction and we have a finite supply. My wife Michele and I are fortunate enough to understand this at our ages and we plan to take advantage of this wisdom.

So how’d I get Michele to agree to this craziness? In her own words…

When Dan first came to me with the idea of living on a boat full-time, I was somewhat stunned. Carter was only 9 months old and a lot of our financial issues (promotions at work, loans getting paid off, etc.) were really starting to look up. We were almost to the point of being able to do whatever we wanted with our money and being set for life! But I could tell from the way he was talking about it that Dan was really serious about this, so I at least needed to give it some serious thought. The more I thought about it, read about it, and talked about it with him, the more I realized that not only was it possible to do this but that it was something I really wanted to go for too. Not only for myself and Dan, but for Carter too. I don’t want my son growing up in front of a screen.

I’m still nervous about the idea, but I figure its kind of like the nervous energy performers get before going on stage…its what keeps you from getting bored.

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