April 28, 2013

The cure for wanderlust

I SUSPECT MANY PEOPLE suffer from wanderlust without knowing it. My barber is one of them. Every time I go to get my locks shorn she gets that look in her eye and starts to talk about boats.

She actually lived on a sailboat for a while a few years ago, before she found her true love and had a couple of kids. Now she is shore-bound and fully occupied with looking after them, her man, their house, an old VW van, and a bunch of customers with unruly hair.

Wanderlust hits most of us sooner or later but it affects some worse than others. It can start off as a vague, nagging longing for new sights, and new people. It can grow into a search for new forms of beauty in our lives; different thrills and untasted pleasures that we suspect are waiting somewhere out there if we can only find the time and opportunity to seek them out.      

The business of bringing up a family can involve years of selfless commitment with no chance of scratching the bits of you that are itching to travel. Sometimes there are things that help ease the incipient wanderlust. Some people get piercings and tattoos. Some take to drink. But nothing works in the end except the experience of wandering.

And, as my barber knows, a seaworthy sailboat is the ideal vehicle in which to commit wanderlust. You can even take the kids with you if you’re young and very brave. A sailboat has all the essentials needed by somebody suffering from a bad case of wanderlust. It’s a home from home for a start, in which you find the comfort of knowing exactly where the teaspoons are kept and where you’re going to sleep tonight. But it’s also a box filled with adventure on all sides. There’s hardly anything you can do on a sailboat that doesn’t involve the all-important adventure that wanderlust calls for.  Even the simple act of anchoring in a pretty cove for the night can lead to a series of adventures before dawn. Not all of them are necessarily pleasant, but they’re all needed to keep wanderlust at bay.

I suspect my barber knows all this already. She and her man spotted a used yacht for sale the other day, and enquired about the price. It was too much for them to manage, but it demonstrates that they both share the urge to wander. And, sure as eggs, one of these days they’re going to end up on a boat, sailing off to goodness knows where with big smiles on their faces, until the wanderlust wears off. If it ever does.

Today’s Thought
Thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.
— Charles Kuralt, On the Road

You need only two tools on a boat: WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Lezlie's World said...

You have just diagnosed my illness.... wanderlust!

Now I know... and as G.I.Joe always say, "Knowing is half the battle."

Ken said...

As a kid growing up in New England before video games and the internet I had normal wanderlust for my local woods and surroundings. My brothers and pals explored and walked the circumference of every body of water within a good 15 miles of our house. Then one day as a young man of 17, a couple of young strangers with backpacks came within our circle with stories of hitch hiking all the way from California. That did it! Before I turned 23, I had seen every state in the union except Alaska, Hawaii, South Dakota and had traveled 9 countries through Europe and a bit of Canada. I didn't find the ocean until I was 33.....Oh no sir, I haven't lost any lust for travel.