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99.9% Lucky

Girls in paradise

Recently, I’ve seen a few cruising-related internet memes something along the lines of this: “It’s not luck, that I’m out sailing my yacht around in paradise. It’s 100% pure hard work.” This kind of rubs me the wrong way and I can’t stop thinking about it.

I mean, it is sort of true really: we could just be armchair sailors reading sea stories by the fireplace wondering what it’s really like out there. We could be living in a comfy cozy house with all our loved ones an hour or three drive or flight away, wondering what it would be like to be on the other side of the world, never having made the sacrifices to actually get here. It does take a whole shitload of work to set sail; read some of my entries from June 2011 for a trip down crazy-stress-but-in-a-very-good-kind-of-way memory lane. We sold everything, spent everything, we’ve sacrificed time with beloved family members and friends back “home.” But we had to do it. There just wasn’t any other option for us.

So, I understand the hard work part. But before we could even make the “hey, let’s go cruising” decision a whole lot of other stuff happened. I can’t see how I can attribute them to anything but “luck.”

First of all, we were born in the United States of America to average middle-class families. We weren’t born in Tonga, where the average worker earns about $25 USD per day. Or Mexico, where the average monthly wage is under USD$1000/month and typically far less. Very very few people in either place own yachts. You are very lucky if your family owns a small skiff. Not everyone in the U.S. is as lucky as us of course: an obscene amount of the American population are homeless and/or lives in poverty.

Michael and I were each born to parents that were university educated and had well-paying jobs. They taught us the love of reading at very early ages, encouraged us to do our best and study hard both in and out of school. We were expected to continue learning after high school graduation. Most of all, we were encouraged to follow our dreams and made to believe that we could do anything we wanted. Our parents taught us that the world was our oyster. Not everyone is so lucky to be born into supportive families like ours.

Michael was lucky that his parents took him cruising at 13 and sparked a dream to cruise with his own family.

I was lucky to log on to webpersonals.com in 1998 and spark up an “instant” message conversation with an interesting boy, which led to lunch at Dad Watsons in Fremont and 14 years of marriage.

It was our good fortune to land jobs in the IT field as the Seattle tech boom was exploding. This allowed us to buy our first yacht before either of us were 25.

We were lucky to be blessed with two perfectly healthy and delightful daughters.

I am lucky to still have my good health, despite almost 28 years of T1 diabetes.

We were lucky to sell our house in a downward-trending market. We’d put a lot of elbow grease into the property over the three years it was ours and were able to land enough profit to pay for a floating home and a trip across the Pacific.

In New Zealand, we feel outrageously lucky to be residents here now. We are friends with a family from Pakistan. Their daughter is the same age as Holly. They arrived here within days of us. The dad works with Michael at his IT company. It took them six years for New Zealand to approve their application for residency, the same process that took us six months. It’s hard to feel lucky, though, at something so unfair.

Things continue to happen, at a rather alarming pace, that are hurling us towards things that we’d envisioned but are now becoming real. It’s clear that we are exactly where we need to be. Maybe “luck” is not really the right word, but “fate.” Whichever it is, I am 100% grateful for all that the universe has given us, which is allowing us the chance to work to make our dreams real.



  1. Dave says:

    Have enjoyed your travels since you left Mexico (up here in the rainy PNW). In addition to “luck” (don’t believe much in that) or 100% hard work (that one is much closer) I’ll add that sometimes we are given opportunities not for our benefit, but to inspire others. And for some to enjoy vicariously our experiences. First of all be grateful for what you been given to pass on to others. Like me πŸ™‚

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Dave, If you’re not so keen on the concept of “luck,” then substitute “gift” or “divine intervention” or “kismet” or “God’s will” if that’s your thing. Whatever it is, I define it just as you describe: opportunities given to me and it took a whole lot of those to set out. Besides, after all these years it’s far more “work” for us to not-cruise than to keep cruising.

      I’m very glad you’ve enjoyed following along all these miles — it’s why I write — and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to inspire someone to do what it is they are meant to, by taking the chances given to them.

  2. Behan says:

    That 100% work thing rubs me the wrong way too! To even have a SHOT at the hard work part, almost every cruiser we know was simply lucky to be born with opportunities. Nice post Sara.

  3. β€œTravel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

  4. Livia says:

    Love this message. I call it chance because I don’t have a believe in an external giver but I really agree with your sentiments.

    Sorry to give you two links to click through but my internet isn’t great right now. Have you read this post? (Not mine, but Ventana) it echoes your thoughts.


    1. Sara says:

      I think of “giver” in the most Carl Sagan kind of way. πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for sending the link Livia — it’s great! Spot on!

  5. Yep, spot on. Warren Buffet preaches the same. He worked his arse off, but attributes his being born in the USA as the root of his ability to make the life he has. We are all fortunate in the same way.

  6. Pamela says:

    Thank you. If I hear one more American crowing because everything they’ve achieved is due to their own effort, I’m going to scream.

    Besides being false, it’s just ungrateful. We should be very thankful for the gifts we’ve been given that allow us to do amazing things.

  7. Sara
    You would no doubt embrace my husband’s philosophy of how sailors survive….

    That we are each born with a bag of luck and a bag of experience. The trick is, making sure your bag of experience gets filled up before your bag of luck runs out.

    Happily, since Sept ’12, we’re hanging in there.

    I do believe beyond the luck, it’s more about making choices. Like you, we’re grateful to be in a position to make those choices.

    As we travel, we’re not sure where we’ll call home when we’re done with our sailboat. Part of the journey is figuring that out with an open mind and the opportunity to consider place that would never otherwise even be on our radar.

  8. Timo says:

    Thank you for sharing this.

    With regards,

    An armchair sailor

    1. Timo says:

      What I forgot to mention is that all sailors are 100 % lucky, no matter where or what they sail.

  9. Cindy says:

    More brilliance as always! A thousand times yes to this. I just had a mind numbing conversation about this very thing with a fellow cruiser. Said cruiser was telling me I was not “out there” again now because I didn’t work hard enough for it like that person did and those around that person. Grrrr. Aside from the whole, “all it takes it work to do this” attitude, it was this smugness in comparing family to family without knowing (because it’s nobody’s business) what our personal circumstances might be.
    Ok, rant over. Just wanted to say yes…. good stuff.

  10. Sara,
    So enjoyed reading of your travels and experiences. Although my family spent years away from loved ones, we made wonderful new friends along the way too! My friends live in many places now. Not being afraid of “change” has allowed both of my daughters as well as myself to pursue what we really love without fear getting in the way. BTW, the new Cosmos series is awesome! Carl Sagans words are as true today as they were so many years ago:)

  11. Travis says:

    I have to disagree with you %100… Circumstance determines how much “Hard Work” is required. In some cases it requires more hard work, in some cases less.

    Everything you have attributed to “luck” could have been achieved through hard work. Not being born in the USA (or one of the 40 other first world countries) does not mean a sailing goal could not be achieved. It just means that person will need to work hard and immigrate to one of those other countries first, then work on the next goal. I personally work with 4 people who made this happen, from some very poor circumstances. One of them came here (Canada) with nothing more than the clothes they wore, now, they could easily achieve this goal.

    Personally… I interpret that statement differently. I don’t think people are patting themselves on the back or bragging when they say it (“Hey look it was all me, I’m so good”). I think they are trying to inspire others… Its a twist on the statement “Nothing is impossible”.

    And to that I leave you with some words that have inspired me.. Dream big, set goals, work hard and ANYTHING is achievable.

    1. Sara says:

      Interesting question isn’t it? Kind of like the chicken before the egg one, I think we all have a different view on it.

      I don’t think ANYTHING is possible. Looking at 40, with various health issues, I know it ain’t so. Sorry.

      Dream big, set goals…YES. But we all have our limitations to work around.