re. rad people

Hmmm, I’ll get to the car when I’m 50 and have some good expe­ri­ence to draw on.

Friends of mine who I’d met sail­ing just came through town.  Cool cou­ple, Char­lie is 50, Stephanie in her mid 40’s.  Two kids, boy & girl some­where around 13 & 15.  I met the kids when they were 3 and 5.

Char­lie is Eng­lish and grew up on an apple orchard.  Work­ing at a junk­yard, rac­ing cars, and fix­ing stuff were his hob­bies.  He’s had all kinds of jobs, from dig­ging a hole in a back­yard that could­n’t be dug with a Bob­cat (think about that:  Could­n’t Be Dug with a Bob­cat.  Yes, he’s a do-er) to teach­ing ski­ing, and on a 3 year whim (yep, he sticks shit out) he went to law school.  Grad­u­at­ed and decid­ed he actu­al­ly did­n’t want to be a lawyer, but the train­ing he got makes him bloody dif­fi­cult to argue with and win.  At some point he got into paraglid­ing and end­ed up doing some bal­loon­ing in a one man bal­loon in France.

Stephanie is one of those rad and beau­ti­ful women (like Lee) who has a con­stant hap­py and bright out­look on life, can find the best in every­thing, is a mod­el for self-reliance, and is will­ing con­stant­ly to get her hands dirty to do what­ev­er it is she needs to do, whether teach­ing her kids how to carve up rub­ber stamps for Christ­mas cards or run­ning the land­scap­ing and plumb­ing at their new home­stead.  She taught ski­ing for a while, and if she’s any­where near as com­pe­tent as she is at every­thing else I’ve watched her do, she’s pret­ty damn good at that.  She’s also unstop­pable once she gets start­ed on a project; an unusu­al trait that many think they have but very few peo­ple actu­al­ly fol­low through on.  Tena­cious and bright, a great human.

Both of them, along with their kids are so well read it’s almost obnox­ious, and they’re boat is stuffed to the brim with books.  It seems like on the whole they’ve decid­ed to spend their time on earth doing the things that make them joy­ful and com­pe­tent instead of mis­er­able and greedy.  It seems so easy when put that way, but from my obser­va­tions of lots of peo­ple it’s a dif­fi­cult thing to do…

Any­way, they have a home up in BC which they rent­ed out 10 years ago to start their sail­ing jour­ney, which was about when I met them.

When we part­ed ways in Ft. Laud­erdale in 2000, they sailed up to Annapo­lis where they sold the boat and (while work­ing on ren­o­vat­ing some mil­lion dol­lar house for a guy he met on the dock) Char­lie bought an old Mer­cedes 300D for $1 from an invest­ment banker who was amazed to watch Char­lie get it run­ning right in front of his eyes.  Char­lie fixed it up and drove his fam­i­ly across Amer­i­ca and back to BC, where he sold the car.

From BC they moved to the side of a moun­tain near a ski town in France where they bought a ruin of a house.  I vis­it­ed them there in the win­ter of ’03 (I think) and the view, loca­tion, and work to be done on the house can safe­ly be described as stunning.

Steph taught Eng­lish and Char­lie worked trans­lat­ing stuff for the IOC.  He end­ed up get­ting a job work­ing on soft­ware for the Olympic tim­ing sys­tems, which he still holds today.  Work­ing from an Irid­i­um con­nec­tion on his boat, he keeps the fam­i­ly finan­cial­ly afloat to live a pret­ty kick ass life, but that’s skip­ping ahead.

Over the course of 6 years in France they fixed up the ruin.  The kids learned to speak French flu­ent­ly as well as learned how to ski. Well.

Char­lie, with Steph’s help, remod­eled the house.  With 50 years of expe­ri­ence in fix­ing stuff and mak­ing shit work he is PHENOMENALLY crafty.  While he was vis­it­ing me just now I watched him build some brack­ets out of alu­minum with a vice, ham­mer and drill that I would have paid good mon­ey for.   He’s one of those guys that fig­ures out how to do stuff and in the process is a joy to watch.  Any­way, they fixed it up mega-rad, sold the house at the top of the mar­ket and moved back to BC.

There they bought a house on a lit­tle island called Tax­a­da, and they got to work again, build­ing a kick ass work­shop and remod­el­ing the house.

While doing this, they bought anoth­er, slight­ly larg­er boat and kit­ted it out for anoth­er long sail­ing voy­age, then took off.

I saw them when they came through SD on their way to parts unknown (to them, they’re just not sure where they’re going.)

While here Char­lie built a plat­form for the sub­stan­tial Irid­i­um anten­na on his boat, helped me work on my car (by help me I mean I got the hell out of the way while he tore my engine apart and put it back togeth­er with no need for direc­tions), showed me how to sweat a joint, helped me re-wire a light and out­let in my garage work­shop, advised me on installing my grey­wa­ter sys­tem and did the thou­sand and one things that need to get done on a boat every time you pull into a port.

Lee hung out with Stephanie dur­ing their stay and gave Stephanie the rare appel­la­tion of “a strong woman” which may sound pret­ty tame, but Lee has the high­est stan­dards for her friends and in the 10 years I’ve known her has only called 3 or 4 oth­er (mega-ultra-kick­ass) women “strong.”

Any­way, they took off after 4 glo­ri­ous weeks of Lee and I bask­ing in the com­pa­ny of com­pe­tent, self-reliant peo­ple who have a pos­i­tive out­look on life and are doing their damnedest to make their time on the plan­et a good one.


Would real­ly like to have you meet them at some point, they’re almost always open to kick-ass folks help­ing them sail.  Any­way, it was great being around them and I want­ed to pass their awe­some sto­ry on.  Keep charg­ing and hope you get half as lucky as these guys have made their life.  It ain’t luck, and thank sweet Jee­bus we all know it.

I’ve cc’d them in so they can cor­rect any errors I’ve made in the telling and in the hopes that you guys go direct with each oth­er and fig­ure out a way to meet up.  I think you’d all enjoy the company.


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