Prelude to Chapter 2
What does it mean to be a Bum on a Boat…
The trouble with accomplishing anything is the moment after. When you’ve done exactly what you set out to do and now have stopped to look around, only to find yourself thinking: what the hell am I supposed to do next?
This isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with achieving a goal, or that you shouldn’t strive for some objective, just that success lasts only a moment.
As soon as you reach a top, you’re again at the bottom.
There’s no happy without the sad, no high without a low, and after you climb the mountain there’s nowhere to go but down again.
This is where BOAB finds himself.
The epic journey to Cuba and back was definitely the climax to chapter one. It was the awesome culmination of all the bums efforts; the entire process and everything it took to buy a boat, live on it, and to travel – just like they’d set out to do.
The personal objective was perhaps quite different for each bum, but the common ground they shared was an idea that they could live differently. Together, combined with this shared vision they embodied the spirit of BOAB.
They aspired to be an exception to the rule of culture.
They sought to live in a way that they could justify, not simply as a product of their society.
They wanted to make things better if they could, and the best place to start when you want to fix the world is always with yourself.
No one knew what was possible – or hell, if they would even survive to tell their story. It was a crazy idea to abandon everything they knew, say goodbye to convention and just take off on a boat they barely knew how to sail.
Many whom they encountered on this journey assured them that they definitely were crazy, likely to kill themselves, and certain to fail.
Yet the idea was bigger than failure.
It didn’t matter if nothing really worked out. Sure it would suck – especially given the tremendous effort and sacrifice each made – and dying definitely wasn’t part of the plan, but no matter what they were all in.
That attitude and commitment to their idea defined the struggle, and likely is what allowed them to succeed.
(If success can be defined as a crazy struggle which you survive to tell the tale)
So, now what?
Joel, Tony, and Jarrad all found just exactly what they were looking for.
They lived out their shared belief, but this meant different things for each of them moving forward. As Joel remains the only original third of BOAB still committed to living life as a bum on a boat, BOAB experiences an identity crisis. We can pin down roughly who BOAB might be based on people living on the boat, but this personal identity matters much less than what BOAB really stands for.
The message, in a single word, could be “Dream.”
Throughout everything, BOAB remains proof that any way of life, any dream is possible so long as you commit without reservation. So long as you jump in head-first regardless of what people might say or think.
If you believe an idea so much you would even be willing to die knowing that you were living out your belief system – then you cannot fail.
Eventually you’re going to die anyway, so don’t be afraid.
More often than not, the only thing that holds us back is fear of failure.
But when we decide our beliefs and our ideas about life matter far more than our reputation or outwardly perceived self, we’ve already won.
You will come out the other side better off no matter what. For having struggled and sacrificed, you will have succeeded. You will have learned priceless knowledge about yourself.
This is what BOAB has experienced, and this is what he hopes to inspire in others.
Me personally, I was affected, I experienced such inspiration and jealously when I first heard of this crazy idea…
It was in a tiny apartment in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, sometime in the Fall of 2015. I was saying goodbye to Joel, it was his last night in town before the three of them – Joel, Tony, and Jarrad – headed for Palm Desert where they would spend the winter caddying and starting preparations for the boat.
They spoke to me about an idea with fire in their eyes, like crazy people, “Sailing Sustainably!”
As a junior in college, experiencing my own questioning of beliefs and wanting to fix this broken world I found myself in, I was enchanted.
It sounded too good to be true: live aboard a sailboat where you can grow sprouts and catch fish, while traveling the world as a sea gypsy on this magically eco-friendly vehicle… where do I sign up?!
Just over two years later, I find myself living on the boat that existed only in the minds of these three crazy dudes.
But she’s here as real as can be, Chak Matay, and what a beauty she is.
The dudes crossed their hurdles together and gained the priceless knowledge that can only be found in the inky blackness of uncertainty.
As Jarrad says, “pain is temporary, but facing your fears lasts a lifetime.”
Now, it’s chapter 2.
Capt. Joel remains, Jill and I have joined the crew, and we’re heading for the Bahamas.
The spirit of BOAB is alive and well. Shared dreams, and commitment to these common ideals, are what bring us together. Do we each have our own different dreams and perspectives? Of course, and it’s impossible to say how each of us will react to the challenges we will face.
But we’re in it together, we’re living a way we can stand to justify, and for now that’s more than enough to get by.