She walked to the bar with purse in hand, dumped the contents onto the counter, counted out coins to pay for her beer, then sat across from me on the picnic bench.
Everything was sandy. The wooden bar was painted in Tropical Hues ™️—the dazzlingly bright colors nature invented to warn you when an animal was deadly venomous and man decided was the international sign for Come Get Shitfaced Here, Tourist.
“I made a wish yesterday,” the waify French beauty announced.
“Money. And guess what? Today a company I used to work for reached out. They’re looking for designers.”
“It would be. But they’re looking for full-time workers. If I took the job I’d have to stop cruising.”
We fell silent and thought into our beers.
I asked, “What would you do if you had more money?”
“Ah bon… fix some things on my boat. Eat out more. Treat myself.”
“But basically you’d be doing the same thing you’re doing right now.”
“Yeah,” she sipped her beer.
“Not a bad place to be.”
She smiled, “No, I guess not.”
Some people have money and take no joy in life. Some people are cash-poor but know that they are exactly where they want to be.
I have seen both sides in my travels.
Broke cruisers who make lifelong memories with a freshly caught fish and a bottle of rum. Wealthy boaters with big-name yachts who want for nothing except for their spent youth.
And the good people on land, some of whom live with this nagging sense that they zigged when they should have zagged and missed the boat on their adventurous life.
I wanted the best of both worlds. For me, that meant an American salary, working a remote job, on a project basis, that would allow me to leave for six months at a time and plug back into the money machine whenever I needed more work.
A ridiculous ask, you might say. You wouldn’t be the first. But after two years I accomplished that goal. And now I enjoy the freedom to pick up and go traveling (almost) at the drop of a hat.
Here are a couple of things I learned along the way:
- Know who pays the bills.
- Negotiate early and often.
- Make allies.
- Be useful.
- Don’t be afraid to ask.
It’s not a roadmap. It’s a set of principles flexible enough to adapt to your specific situation. Lenses you can apply to find your own path to creating wealth outside of the normal institutions.
We all tradeoff between security and satisfaction. The default path encourages financial security through steady employment. But it is certainly not the only way, or even the most effective way, to find your economic value.
And it does not factor the cost of spending your youth doing something you might not even enjoy.
On the other hand, cruisers are some of the most resourceful people I have ever met, but even they are constrained by the need to earn money.
Nobody escapes the tradeoffs. The best you can do is to be conscious of where you lie on the safety-satisfaction spectrum. And to ensure that that decision is one you can live with.
P.S. Yesterday I encouraged you to email me if you wanted juicy cruiser stories but then I forgot to set up a valid reply-to address. Yikes! It’s been fixed now so all replies should reach my inbox. So if you’re looking for early access to some steamy and thrilling material, and you’re willing to give me substantial feedback, then feel free to apply for access by shooting me an email.