There Is No Failure, Only Experience Gained

There Is No Failure, Only Experience Gained

“So you have failed? You cannot fail. You have not failed;
you have gained experience. Forward!” — St. Josemaría Escrivá

It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to sit and write about our journey of sailing Starlike. 

Partly, this is because our travels quite immediately became something altogether different from what any of us envisioned and therefore I wasn’t entirely sure how to describe all the raw feelings. 

Plus, from the outside looking in, we appear to be a family “living the dream” in paradise, and who wants to hear a girl in paradise bellyaching?  

Also, in order to take our boat for long-distance cruising, we needed several important refits such as new navigation equipment, a new head sail, and a water maker.  

After moving onto our Leopard 40 in January, we stayed a month on a mooring ball in Key West anticipating that we’d get a start on those refits up in Fort Lauderdale in February.

Due to circumstances out of our control, our refit dates kept getting pushed back, so we stayed two months at a marina in Key West which afforded us several leisurely afternoon sails to a nearby reef as well as the chance to meet new friends; an opportunity to have our engines overhauled and our refrigerator repaired; and a safe harbor for numerous wind storms that benched even the hardiest of shrimp fishermen in the area.  

When we finally got dates for our refit work, we enjoyed a great four-day sail up the Keys and into Fort Lauderdale where we learned so much from our friend Captain Larry Shaffer.  Since arriving here at the end of March, we have (shockingly) been waiting, waiting and waiting for months for refits to be completed which has (unfortunately) pushed us into what is now slated to be the most active hurricane season since 2005 (which, incidentally, was a record year for Category 5 hurricanes).  

For unseasoned sailors who feel skilled enough at this time to travel only the distance from Florida to the Bahamas, it’s an under-statement to say that the words “most active hurricane season in twelve years” intimidate.  A lot.  

We (naively?) thought that we would have been on our merry way to the Bahamas long ago (March) and that we would have sailed enough through the Bahamian islands to feel confident to face a longer trip to a “safer” hurricane zone, such as Grenada.  

But it’s the end of June as I write this (July when it gets published), and here we are still in Fort Lauderdale, still waiting for the last few refits to be completed, and now watching tropical storms developing in not just one, but two of the “safe” hurricane places: Belize and Grenada. (Upon July publication, there is another tropical storm brewing near Grenada!)

So can you see my dilemma in sitting down to write these last few months?  The feelings have been a little erratic; the emotions have been running amok!

In a nutshell, we sold our house, furniture and cars and bought a boat to release ourselves into a new story of long-term travel, cultural exploration, and spiritual discovery.  But instead of liberating our lives, the boat inadvertently anchored us to this singular, very hot and steamy south Florida coast.

Just to be clear, lengthy boat refits and the subsequent obliterated schedule aren’t the only weights holding Starlike back.  

There’s also the constantly repeated mantra from other sailors that “boat ownership is boat maintenance in exotic locations” and that owning a boat is really just an acronym for how, at every turn you must “bring on another thousand.”  

But “Don’t worry!” they say, enthusiastically. “You can learn how to repair your diesel engine, patch that worn sail, flush out your water maker, re-calibrate your depth sounder, fix the short in your radio antenna and/or restore the chinks in the fiberglass.”  

It’s important to mention here that every. single. sailor. we’ve met possesses one (or more!) of the following stellar mechanical prowesses in areas including but not limited to welding, plumbing, carpentry, sail-making, helicopter repair, metal-working, tool & die making, mechanical & electric engineering, and diesel engine rebuilding.  I’m not even exaggerating one bit.

And so their encouragement that, “You’ll do great!  You’ll learn to do boat maintenance!” had us all deer-in-the-headlights stunned because clearly they could not even begin to comprehend the height, depth and width of our mechanical handicap not to mention the amount of general loathing we feel toward reading countless pages of owner’s manuals dealing with all manner of motor, engine, pump, or electronic in order to teach ourselves how to do all the (terribly scary) maintenance things.

This English-teaching word-lover and her non-profit/tennis-coaching husband wrongly assumed that travel and exploration would far outweigh boat maintenance… a sore miscalculation indeed!

And so, add the epically long boat refit timeline and the annihilated 2017 travel calendar to the Herculean learning curve of both gaining sailing confidence and schooling ourselves on the (unpleasant for us) tasks of boat maintenance, and, well, like I said before… Starlike has become a heavy anchor indeed.

Which is why, after just six months of living aboard our once beloved Leopard 40, we’re selling her.

That’s right, we’re selling Starlike.  

A few of you have seen the listing over at Just Catamarans, and so this news isn’t a surprise to you.  

What is a surprise to us, however, is the number of people who messaged us to express either great sadness for our decision or harsh ridicule.  One person said, for example, “HAHAHAHA… we knew these people would never make it!  We knew they would fail!”

It’s easy to shake off impolite mockery from complete strangers (because frankly, who cares?), but it’s a little more difficult to respond to the shock and sadness of the friendly sojourners following our story from afar — some who saw our experience both as an inspiration as well a litmus test… because if we could do it, so could they.  And now that we’re selling Starlike, they are questioning their own resolve to move forward.

To these friends we say heartily: changing course does not equal failure!  How can any circumstance where one harvests unparalleled experience equal failure?  How can shedding the proverbially materialistic millstone from our necks and learning to live strong in faithful forward-motion equal failure?   

Selling Starlike does not equal failure. It does equal a plot twist in our story — a storyline change with a new (but yet-to-be-firmly-defined) direction.  But failure?  

No. Way.

Still in our sights is the desire to live a story of long-term travel, cultural exploration, and spiritual discovery.  We’ve merely changed our method of transportation!

And yeah… there’s more to the story: we’ve been soul-changed and spiritually honed through this process of selling and moving, learning and traveling, getting bogged down and now getting unstuck again.  I’ll unpack a bit of that later, as I’ve kept you long enough today.

But for now, for us all: FORWARD!

What's Next?

What's Next?