Maybe she feels trapped. Maybe she feels she’s not getting all she should be getting out of life. She certainly seems unduly concerned with the fact that she will be turning 30 later this year. She has a large countdown clock on her website, and it’s ticking over seconds and minutes as you look at it.
She has the word “Wanderlust” tattooed on her foot. And somewhere along the way, I believe, she has been entertaining thoughts of escaping from it all by sailing away on a yacht. But she is stuck in that tide in the affairs of mankind that sucks them swiftly away from the sea and boats, and strands them for the best part of two decades on the reefs of Marriage, Career, Home, and Bringing up Children.
This a dilemma faced by many adventurous souls, and the message is plain: you have two realistic choices. You either do it before you settle down and raise a family, or you do it afterward. It’s true that there are a few couples who go cruising with small kids, but for obvious reasons they are few and far between.
This young woman’s problem is that by the time she and her husband are free to fulfill her adventurous dreams of cruising and voyaging under sail, they will be 50-plus and faint-hearted.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Somewhere this young woman has gotten the idea that life, any decent kind of life, ends at 30. I can tell her from my own experience that it doesn’t. One of the best days in my life came when I was 35 and a policeman called me “Sir” for the first time. I felt grown-up at last. The decade of my 40s was terrific. When I was 50 I packed my wife and youngest son on a 31-footer and sailed for six months from South Africa to America.
I know it’s hard for a 29-year-old to believe that a 50-year-old can feel as fit as he or she did at 21, and enjoy life every bit as much, if not more, but it’s absolutely true. And the extra years bring many compensations, not the least of which is a larger cruising kitty that enables you to lead a fuller life while you explore.
At any one time, hundreds of couples in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s are cruising around the world in small sailboats. A friend once met a yachtsman in the British Virgin Islands. He was in his early 80s, and he was battling to free a rusted shackle from his anchor chain. You or I would have taken a hacksaw to the shackle and bought a new one for a couple of bucks. Not him. He was determined to get it working again. “If this old bitch of a boat didn’t give me so much trouble I would have died long ago,” he said.
So I would counsel the Georgia woman to cultivate patience. The good life is not as short as you seem to think, ma’am.
Today’s ThoughtIf time were the wicked sheriff in a horse opera, I’d pay for riding lessons and take his gun away.
— W. H. Auden
TailpieceTeacher: “How many times can 2 be subtracted from 6?”
Pupil: “I’ve done it 10 times and it always comes to 4.”
(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)