In my thread, “Addicted to this,” I asked for stories from mariners who’d tried going ashore and failed. Here is my own. Two years ago I came ashore to pursue a nursing degree. I’ve since been certified as an EMT, worked as an EMT in a shipyard, as a medical assistant in a clinic, and as a tech in an Emergency Department–two of these were concurrent positions. I’ve also completed several pre-requisite courses towards nursing school, and, were I to continue, I’d be ready to apply to schools at the end of this year.
I’m progressing nicely towards my goal, but, all along, I’ve been questioning whether or not that goal is one that I’d be satisfied with. My days are spent under fluorescent lights, trying my best to focus on things that I increasingly care less and less about, and then filling out innumerable forms to document in great detail those things that I had to drag myself to do. My nights are spent studying material that I have no real interest in. My free-time is spent cursing at traffic, trying to get out of the city for a few hours. I’m not happy, I’m not looking forward to anything, and I believe, if I were to continue, I would only work myself into a position that I’d be loathe to give up, due to all the work I’ve done to get there, and loathe to do, because of the realities of healthcare in this country. I’d end up hating my career, and resentful that I didn’t have the balls to chase what I really want.
I didn’t come ashore because I have a passion for healthcare. I did it because I missed being around my loved ones. Ironically, I’ve found that I spend even less time with my loved ones than I did when I was working on ships. I thought I’d be satisfied with a meaningful career that allowed me significant room for lateral or upward mobility. Instead I’m just restless, bored, and feeling increasingly trapped.
I was offered a position as an AB on a boat in Hawaii, and was going to take it, but a few days before I was due to leave, my significant other was in a car crash that left her in the hospital. I stayed home to be there for her.
But I can’t live like this, and I’ve tried an almost unbelievable amount of jobs over the years, so I don’t believe that I would be satisfied with anything ashore. Seafaring is the only thing in my life at the business of which I actually felt that that was where I was meant to be.
And so I’m leaving. Going to work as a small-boat captain this summer, and head to Enkhuizen, Holland, this Fall to do their tall-ship mate’s program. I know it’s not USCG approved, but I’m fascinated and energized by the idea of working on a tall ship, and by the opportunity to experience Northern Europe. I’ve sailed gaff-rigged schooners, and have a little experience with wooden boats, but my real passion is doing something along the lines of what Tres Hombres and Nordlys are doing, and sailing cargo around the world. I can’t imagine a better life than one spent creating relationships with small producers in far-flung countries, buying their goods, and bringing them to markets half a world away. Even if it were in a small way, on my own small boat, and selling whatever I buy at farmer’s markets, that idea brings a smile to my face.
It seems to me that even if I wound up as a Wind-Assisted Financial Indigent, the voyage would’ve been a good one, and quite a story to tell. So I’m going to follow my crazy dreams, because it’s a crazy world, and I’d be crazy not to. So, fire away, tell me why I should just buckle down and do the medical thing. Or, conversely, encourage me…