On A Paid Vacation

This post is dedicated to all the working sailors out there! Who do you want to dedicate it to? Add their name in the comments below and then share the post with them.

I’m a professional mariner, a licensed and working captain, or simply put….a sailor. It has a nice ring to it.

“What do you do for a living?”

“I’m a sailor”, I say.

My reply is often followed by a quizzical look and a question or two. “So what do you do all day? People pay you to just sail around? It must be nice to be on a paid vacation.”

What do I do all day?

I help teenagers do things they never thought they could possibly do.

I sleep in the rain with one eye open.

My students trust me with their lives, and I teach them to be trustworthy with my own.

I move vessels when the owners don’t have the time, or ability, or courage to do it themselves.

When I’m cut, I stitch my wound.

I help shy, insecure people become strong leaders.

I help arrogant, oppressive people find compassion.

I make shipmates who don’t know or like each other work together as a team.

I show people how to resolve conflicts.

I often swim in icy cold water, even when I can’t stand it.

On a voyage into the night or a surprise abandon ship drill, people follow my lead even when they are nervous.

I expect my students and crew to never give up, even when they are cold, wet, or seasick.

And, when the winds calm, and the sun dries them out, I show them what they’ve done. And they feel joy, success, and camaraderie.

I go for days, weeks, sometimes  months without showering, taking a day off, or sleeping in.

Sometimes I get scared…especially when I have to climb the rig.

I try to make others comfortable and safe, even when I’m tired and wet.

I study the weather, note the tides, test the systems, and plan my route.

Then I do it all over again.

I cherish brief moments when dolphins swim in the bow wake or a shooting star launches across the sky.

I respect and reflect on moments when it’s a close call.

And I log everything.

I pour over textbooks to troubleshoot my engine.

I learn to use new tools.

I balance sensitivity with sternness.

I maintain professional certifications and regularly update skills and trainings.

Sometimes I clean wounds, comfort injured, and splint bones.

I consciously work to create an environment of emotional safety and physical safety. I believe they are equally important.

I organize, inventory, re-organize and re-inventory.

I make tasty meals out of just peanut butter, beans, and raisins.

I mess up and have to make repairs.

I stand watch alone for hours.

I choose my bed based on the direction of the wind and waves.

I do without television, Internet, and still find joy.

I find my “alone time” by simply turning my gaze outboard.

When things break, I fix them instead of replacing it or redeeming the warranty.

I treasure the few things I have with me…an unsolved Sudoku puzzle and a colorful jelly pen. I do love jelly pens.

So, what do I do all day? I come alive. And, I promise you, if passage making and sail-training were a paid vacation, then everyone would be doing it.

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This is a tribute to all working sailors! Honor a sailor you know by adding their name in the comments below and then share the post with them.

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19 Responses to On A Paid Vacation

  1. Kari October 29, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    You could also have added “if it paid better, more people would be doing it”! Great blog post Terresa!

  2. Kaptnuno October 30, 2013 at 4:55 am #

    Beautiful blog post!
    You do what you love and you love what you do! Even when you doubt it!

  3. Jessica October 30, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    Awesome post! I’m a terrible sailor but enjoyed my two years learning here in Madison. The life lessons (and lessons for me in ministry) go on and on! Blessings, sister--proud of you!

  4. Teresa Carey October 30, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    Love love Outward Bound Instructors:
    Andrew Paper (pictured above)
    Sarah Nutt
    Sam OCD
    Paul Chatelain
    Wendy Jordan
    Jen Haddock
    Luke O’Neil
    Bart Blankenship
    Anna Hope
    David Conover
    Joel Rowland
    Katie Baker
    John Calogero
    Shane Laprade
    Ben Hoops
    Julia Carlton
    Ben Urmston
    Alicia Witham
    Parker Gassett
    Jen Feeny
    Sam Hallowell
    Joel Rowland
    Katie Crokett Stack
    and I know I’m missing some. There are lots more!

    A wonderful sailors, sail training, and delivery skippers:
    Andy Schell
    John Neil
    Amanda Swan Neil
    John Kretchmer
    Perry Davis
    Amanda Hatchard
    Perry Davis
    Jenny Tobin
    Cappy G (aka Garth Wells)
    Tom Stickney
    Amanda Dunn
    Amber Nuite

    • Dara May 19, 2016 at 11:24 pm #

      i would love to get in touch with peels! any idea how?!

  5. Fran October 30, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    It IS nice to be on a paid “vacation”…working hard, accomplishing much, accepting challenges, doing without a lot of the expected material items and getting to be on the water, which is a plus for you, is nothing to have to explain to others, only to be proud of. Most people, while working for more money, do not get to experience half of what you have seen and done and they usually dread going to work……BE PROUD……

  6. Perry October 30, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    You could not pay me enough for the joy and happiness I receive when I am on the water. Being on my sailboat in the water, simply put is “mental health.”

  7. Jim Easterly October 30, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Teresa’s word picture brings to mind some true sailors I have known: Stan Allen, Ann Smith, Harvey Royer at Del Mar Marina, Barbara Resch, Joe Olson, and Tom (and Pam) Sims.

    Nice word picture of the sailor’s lot.


  8. Daniel October 30, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    True freedom to do what you want, when you want and adapt to the situation.

    Nice to-do list.

  9. John October 31, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

    This mite not be what you actually requested, but I would like to add your name, Teresa. My sailing consists two outings on a sunfish in my teens. I have always loved sailing but opportunities just did not happen. I recently started reading about sailing through blogs and you tube videos. It seems like the more I learn what it is like to sail offshore-which is where my love seems to be, the more I become discouraged that I would be able to do sail days on out. Your love for sailing and how you covey that love has my fires burning once again. One day I will have a chance…

  10. Bea November 3, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Teresa…. I just admire you 🙂 Good luck girl !

  11. Michelle November 4, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    Awesome! 🙂

  12. Matthew Barraud November 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Awesome Post!!!

    I too am a working sailor and in fact started my own sail training organisation in the UK in 2010. It’s been a hard run and one that has struggled in our economy but it’s post like yours that inspire me to continue through all the nightmares we are having with keeping Morvargh alive.


  13. Matthew Kotzé January 27, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Amazing Blog! Its a tough life out there and I really take my hat off to ALL the delivery skippers out there. Whether its complicated tidal stuff, bad weather, out of season, neglected yachts or just down right nasty weather. They’re out there!
    Especially to all my friends and family at Thumbs Up Sailing Yacht Delivery

  14. Knut Garshol February 20, 2014 at 2:43 am #

    Great description of what it is all about 🙂 You have a way with words, so keep writing!
    I have to mention my Swedish friend Anders Eriksson, married to the sister of my wife, who sailed twice around the world single handed. He is now a professional sea captain (tugboat out of Gothenburg) and my primary go-to-guy when I need advice 🙂
    I don’t know anybody closer to the term “working sailor”.

  15. D.H. Cahen March 30, 2015 at 11:25 am #

    There are several professional mariners that dedicate their time free of charge to the development of future mariners. Here is to those U.S.C.G. Licensed mariners that spend their days off “giving it forward”.

    • Teresa Carey March 30, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

      Agreed! Most of the people I work with give a lot of support to other sailors even when they aren’t working. I think we all try to do what we can to keep people safe on the water and enjoying it in the best way possible. “Giving it forward” is a positive way to give to individuals as well as the sailing community at large.

  16. Natasha April 15, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    Captains Dogen Hannah, Mike Priest, Jasper van Vliet, Kirk Douglas, Arnstein Mustad, Paul Kassatkin

    • Fran Stateler April 22, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

      To all the hard working sailors out there, my hat’s off to you and a special nod to Brian Cline whose help and advice are priceless to me in my pursuit of a happy retirement on my boat.

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