Dr. David Lewis was the first person to circumnavigate planet earth on a catamaran. Going around Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn is a singular accomplishment on any sailboat, but doing it in a 42 foot home built catamaran is voyaging in unexplored territory.
The last people to sail voyaging catamarans such great distances were the Polynesians of the south Pacific. David Lewis took a catamaran where cats had never been before, and he did it with his family.
David Lewis was born in England, but at age 2 his family moved to New Zealand, and he became a Kiwi. He grew up in New Zealand and the Cook Islands, and he developed a passion for adventure and Polynesian culture. He started medical school in New Zealand and completed medical school in England. In World War II, he was a medical officer in the Parachute Battalion in the British Army. After practicing medicine for 22 years, he shut down his London medical practice at age 47, and he pursued a life of adventure. That’s not to say his life was without adventure prior to shuttering his medical practice. In 1960 he sailed a 25 foot boat in a singlehanded transatlantic race, coming in third even through he suffered dismasting early in the race.
After shutting down his medical practice in 1964, he loaded his family into Rehu Moana, his 42 foot catamaran, and he did a three year circumnavigation. From that point on, Dr. Lewis pursued his adventures in earnest. Although he was thinly capitalized, he was a fearless adventurer, and what he lacked in finances, he made up for in courage and resourcefulness. He even learned how to navigate by the stars using the techniques perfected by ancient Polynesian navigators in the South Pacific.
David Lewis fascinates me because he was a fearless adventurer, prolific writer, Polynesian navigator, and most importantly, he did not get started until he stopped practicing medicine at age 47, and that gives me hope for my own adventures.
Some of my best adventures began in my early forties when I started traveling in the Arabian desert in Land Rover Defenders. I knew that one day I would sail around the world on my own catamaran, and I practiced my celestial navigation skills in the desert using a bubble sextant to take sights of the sun in the daytime and stars at night. I honed my navigation skills to perfection.
Then at age 47, I stopped practicing medicine in Arabia and I started an eleven year sailing voyage around the world. I realize that I am no David Lewis, but we do share one thing in common:
ONCE WE HAVE A TASTE OF FREEDOM, NOTHING ELSE WILL DO.
Once you have a taste of freedom, it’s hard to put the handcuffs back on and let medicine control your life. It’s even harder to allow hospital administrators, insurance companies, lawyers, and the government dictate how you practice medicine.
I don’t care if you have a bill of rights chiseled on the mantle above your fireplace, you are not free when hospital administrators, insurance companies, lawyers, and the government rule your life. That is not freedom. That is servitude and oppression.
Once you have a taste of freedom, giving up that freedom feels like Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of porridge.
Life without freedom is just existing, and without freedom, there is no adventure. You have a dull, monochromatic, frequently depressing existence.
Sailing around the world on a catamaran is a great deal of work, but at least you are free. Sailors live in a parallel universe where they are free. We are few in number and that is probably why we are still free. We are the low profile, quiet, free ones living in a parallel universe.
The meek really do inherit the earth.
HOME IS WHERE YOU HEART IS ... Landlubbers often ask, "When are you coming home?" What they really mean is, "When are you going to buy a house, settle down, and live like most other people?" Although this is a fair question, it overlooks the obvious. Real ocean cruisers are already home because their boat is their home.
Most ocean cruisers are middle class people who sold their house so they could purchase a boat. They simply traded a terrestrial home for an aquatic one.
Sailors have homes just like landlubbers. The big difference is that a cruiser's home moves around, sometimes a little, and sometimes a lot. It doesn't matter whether the anchor is down or the sails are up, a real ocean cruiser is still at home. Every day that I sailed on my yacht - 33,000 miles around the world - I always felt like I was home. Sometimes my home was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and at other times it was in Australia, Thailand, the Caribbean, or hundreds of other destinations. No matter where I was, as long as I was on my yacht, I was already home.
Yachts are an excellent way to travel because they permit you to take your home with you. There's no need for mountains of luggage or expensive hotels. You simply need a bay in which to drop your anchor.
When I flew around the world by air, never once in the month long trip did I feel like I was home. Airplanes, airports, and hotels never feel like home. Contrast that with my sailing voyage around the globe. For eleven years I sailed the high seas, and every single day and in every destination, I felt like I was home.
When you talk to sailors who cruise full time, most of them will tell you the same thing. Their yacht is their home. Although some cruisers can afford a house and a yacht at the same time, usually their house is rented to produce income, and their home is on the yacht.
Cruisers have a special understanding of the old saying, "Home is where the heart is." They made a choice to move their home from land to sea, and it was a decision of the heart. They did it because that was what they wanted to do.
So when exactly will cruisers come home? When will they move their home back from the sea to land? The answer is simple. When land is where their heart is, they will do it. They will step off their small ship onto dry land, start a new life, and make a new home.
For twenty-eight years, I have lived, traveled, worked, and cruised outside the USA. My global adventures have sometimes been a source of confusion to my family and friends. Some of them have even suggested that I have wasted large segments of my life. After all, if I had gone mainstream professionally, I could have been rich - maybe even famous. They are probably right. I could have been rich and famous, but I also would have been miserable, maybe even depressed, because I would not have been living my dreams.
I worked as an eye doctor for eleven years in Saudi Arabia, and then I went sailing around the world with my family on my small yacht. When I stopped doing ophthalmology and started living my cruising dreams, many of my professional friends acted like I fell off a horse and hit my head. They thought I was throwing everything away when I moved on to different things.
They had a problem with their vision. They had a form of inner blindness that prevented them from seeing my dreams. To them, it looked like I was wandering, even lost.
Well, I have news for all the naysayers, disbelievers, and critics. Even though I am wandering, I am not lost. I am on course, and I am exactly where I want to be, because I am living my dreams.
In one of my books (unpublished) I have a term that I use to describe a group of clueless people; I call them the Life Long Disoriented. These folks don't know who they are, and they don't know where they are going. They are adrift on the ocean of life.
I am not a member of the Life Long Disoriented because I know exactly who I am. I am Captain Dave, circumnavigator of planet earth. I am Landroverman, an expert in expeditionary travel in Land Rover Defenders. I am Dr. Dave, a flying doctor with the Indian Health Service flying out to Indian reservations to deliver health care in Arizona. I am also a speaker, writer, podcaster, webmaster, and photographer.
I also know where I am going. I am traveling in the direction of my dreams. Wherever my dreams take me, that's where I will end up. Although it may look like I am wandering, I definitely am not lost. I have been living my life on purpose for more than 60 years, and I plan to continue living the same way.
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is that if you aren't living your dreams, you are wasting your life. So go ahead. Live your dreams. You'll be glad that you did.