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.