"The years thunder by"

Winter in the Great Lakes always brings plenty of time for self-reflection and deep thought.  I've been spending a lot of time contemplating our probable sailing voyage through upper Lake Michigan that is planned for the summer of 2010.  Of course, thinking of spending so much time on the boat cruising and all of the prep and planning that goes into such a cruise makes me also think about longer future voyages.

A lot of my winter thoughts are inspired by the many photos, paintings and quotes that adorn my home office in the basement.  I'd like to share a somewhat lengthy quote I have hanging above my desk.  The words go right to the heart of any wannabe cruiser (or should I say voyager? - read on).  The quote is from Sterling Hayden's autobiography titled "Wanderer".

Here's the quote:
"To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest.  Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea..."Cruising" it is called.  Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanders of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in.  If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change.  Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

"I've always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can't afford it!"  What these men can't afforde is not to go.  They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of security.  And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine - and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need -  really need?  A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment.  That's all - in the material sense, and we know it.  But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, and preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by.  The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience.  Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.  Where, then, lies the answer?  In choice.  Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?"

An interesting side note: Sterling Hayden was a sailor, U.S. Marine and Hollywood actor.  He was in The Godfather and Dr. Strangelove, among many other movies.  At first glance one might assume a Hollywood actor shouldn't have to worry at all about "bankruptcy of purse", but I believe much of Sterling's sailing was done prior to his acting career. 

Sterlings words above are powerful statements, and perhaps too dramatic for some. But nonetheless, I read this quote from time to time and find my voyaging spirit stirred. What about you?


  1. So does this mean we'll see you down here in New Zealand in the near future? (did Hayden have kids at the time?) :-) Love the blog and the quote!

  2. Paul - Yeah, we'd love to have the winds blow us to New Zealand and up starting a new life there. Has it been good for you and your family?

    Interestingly, Hayden defied a court order after his divorce in 1958 and sailed with his four children all the way to Tahiti.


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