top of page

The Lunatics Are Running The Asylum

It's a funny thing; this journey of trying to get my sailboat in shape for my big adventure. I've met some really cool and interesting characters. And while I've been learning about trying to get my boat ready I've been thinking that I don't know anything.. that I have to learn everything, and everyone else has it all figured out. If you’ve read any of my other articles here on SailJunky you will know that my confidence to rebuild my boat and take her on big adventures is shaky at best.

But recently I’ve come to the conclusion that even those people I’ve met in the sailing community that I look up to are, or have been, on a similar journey with similar challenges at some levels, and that I’m not alone. Let me explain. There's Matt. I have known of Matt for a long time because of his Podcast 'Single-Handed Sailing'. Matt Rutherford is the first person to non-stop solo circumnavigate the Americas. If you don't know about Matt listen to his podcast. He is one of the most authentic people I've met in the sailing community and incredibly knowledgeable. Matt also has a very ambitious goal of changing the world by impacting how ocean research is done via his non-profit Ocean Research Project. But I am also lucky because Matt's sailboat is near mine in the boat yard. I've been able to meet him in person and have a drink or cigar with him occasionally and gain a lot of insights into the madness that I have found myself in with my sailboat through his eyes and experience. Matt is refitting a massive steel boat for arctic research and the project is huge. There's Captain Paul who runs a very cool sailboat charter business on his boat Non-Sea Quitter and does consulting for new or prospective boat owners and coaching. Paul reached out to me early in my experiment with Sail Junky Magazine and basically said, "Hey.. my name's Paul.. what are you doing? Do we really need another sailing magazine?" A brief conversation quickly turned into a 2 hour conversation and he has been a consistent friend/motivator for me to keep going into this madness since. I've talked with Paul extensively about my plans and I even hired him for sail coaching. Paul has been refitting his boat since 2015 and last year alone spent more on the boat than he paid for it. But his passion for what he does is palpable and worth envy. There's Andrew. Andrew is a marine mechanic / guru and has quickly become my goto when I need guidance refitting my boat. He's super busy and is kind enough to coordinate with me to help on my projects when it works for both of us. He and his wife Anna took their sailboat from the west coast down through the Panama Canal and many other adventures. They are running their Yacht Repair & Refit business from Eastport, MD and I'm hoping to interview them in the future. Andrew is also deep in refit mode of various items in the cabin of his boat. Andrew is a very sharp technical guy and could likely make a lot of money in a different industry but he has chosen to live an authentic life in an industry that he has a passion for. LUNATICS & THE ASYLUM I want to clarify that I do not gravitate towards the stuffy, uppity, brass buttony, yacht clubby scene. I'm more of a misfit. So having the ability to meet other interesting people like those I've mentioned above has really helped me on my journey. But the truth is, even these people who are so entrenched in the sailing world are winging it at some levels, albeit with a lot more experience than me. I was able to hang out with Capt. Paul and Andrew a few weeks ago for a few too many beers in Eastport, MD. (The cool side of Annapolis). Paul and I first toured Bacon Sail & Marine Supplies. Bacons is a sailboaters dream of parts, sails, used gear, and an all-around cool shop to visit. I got to meet Stevie Reeves, one of the guys in charge and I was quickly able to see that he is also just another lunatic. (I will explain, I promise). He's chill, laid back, and enjoys what he's doing but readily admitted that buying and sailing a boat is a fools journey. After leaving Bacons we met Andrew at his boat in Eastport. Andrew has an awesome custom built cruising sailboat that is somewhat unique in its layout. His passion and talent for working on boats was clear when he gave me a tour. What an amazing boat with so much character. (And built like a tank.) After the tour we hung out at the Eastport Democratic Social Club - of which both Andrew and Paul are members. This is like an Elks Lodge for the lunatics. I loved it! We had many beers and talked about boats, sailing, etc. This is where, once the alcohol helped grease the skids, we talked about the sailing industry. They laughed and joked about the folly of spending money on their boats; the constant work, constant challenges, and how it makes very little financial sense. And then I interrupted the conversation.. "wait a second.. here I am sitting with two guys whom I have hired in this crazy process and it's clear, you are just as sick as I am. You are pouring money into boats, constantly fixing them, nursing them back to health. You are the sailing industry yet deal with the same stuff I thought I was having to deal with just because I'm new to this." "Mike, make no mistake", Andrew interrupted. "The lunatics are running the asylum. We are all sick." And that's when it struck me. This industry, this community, these misfits.. we are all the same. People that have a passion for this sailing / boating adventure and dreams of fulfilling things in our lives that are bigger than us. We accept that the medium we've chosen is fraught with challenges, things breaking, hiccups and speed bumps. Matt Rutherford once told me: "If you want to build a boat simulator, dig a hole in your back yard and start throwing money in it." And while Matt is pretty accurate with that there is the other side of the equation.. the Why we are doing what we do. Even Matt, as cynical as his analogy sounds, has built a life and a career by adventuring on sailboats. Fixing, spending, cursing, sailing, and loving the adventure. He has a successful podcast that shares the detail of his adventures, thoughts, and passions.. much of it centered around sailing. So I’ve been wondering.. who really are the lunatics? These people I’ve met who are seizing life via this sailing medium regardless of the challenges or what “the system” says is appropriate.. or those that never have the guts to go for their dreams?

As I continue on this fools-journey I've embarked on.. as I struggle to get my boat "ready", I look forward to meeting more of you lunatics and to enjoy this madness we have all decided to put ourselves through. It is worth it... if only to meet other cool lunatics on my way.

Matt Rutherford: Single Handed Sailing Podcast | Ocean Research Project

Paul Foer: Non-Sea Quitter | Foer Front

Andrew: A&A Marine Ventures


Mike D. is the founder of Sail Junky Magazine. Striving to find more purpose in life, Mike writes and shares about his journey to rediscover his passion for living a fulfilled life, especially through the medium of sailing.

668 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page