December 18, 2008

In Pursuit of Happiness

THOSE MOST prodigious of cruisers, Lin and Larry Pardey, say there are three main reasons why long-distance cruises are so often unsuccessful:

1. Too large a boat.
2. Not enough money.
3. Overplanning.

I’d like to add a fourth:

4. Lack of a goal.

Most people cruise to find happiness, or at least contentment, but happiness itself can’t be the goal. Happiness is the byproduct of working toward a goal. Happiness is serendipitous. It ambushes you while your attention is focused on your goal. Chase happiness and it runs away. Chase your goal and happiness sneaks back.

So what should a cruiser’s goal be? Almost anything you decide in advance to achieve through thick and thin. To sail around the world is a goal, but rather a grand one. Your goal doesn’t need to be that grand. It could be to collect certain rare shells from far-flung islands. To photograph six different kinds of whales in six oceans. To make a video or write a book. To retrace Slocum’s route and collect postage stamps from every country he visited. To climb certain mountains on certain islands. To take mid-ocean temperatures for the Scripps Institute. You're limited only by your imagination.

Having a long-term goal, a definite objective, gives purpose to a voyage, removes uncertainties, and resolves many decisions that otherwise become burdensome, contentious, and, in the end, lethal to congenial relationships.

So if you want a successful cruise, set a goal—and firmly never budge.

Today's Thought
A singular disadvantage of the sea lies in the fact that after successfully surmounting one wave you discover that there is another behind it just as important. —Stephen Crane

My correspondent in Djibouti reports that the Somali government has created a special website for victims of piracy in the Gulf of Aden. The address of the new site is www.pirates.aargh!

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