Thursday, April 25, 2024
HomeCruiseEmbracing Freedom: A Hippie's Quest for the Open Seas

Embracing Freedom: A Hippie’s Quest for the Open Seas

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My goal is to be the freest American sailor on this planet. Yes, freedom is my drug and I mainline it. To put it another way, there are three things I’m interested in—freedom, freedom and freedom.

…get the picture?

…call me crazed, obsessed and single-minded… call me generationally-stubborn, even.


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Of course, as a flower child of the late 1960s, I’m also worried about selling out. Yes, that was our big fear as starry-eyed hippies of yore, that we’d eventually become greedheads and ‘sell out to the Man.”

Oh, what an awful thought!

Of course, the 1960s and flower-power have faded for most members of my generation.  We’re all older, and ‘the movement’ is now more closely associated with elderly bowels than young radicals. I mean, today a weather man is… well, a guy interested in weather.

…sad, eh?

…to paraphrase the radical singer Gil Scott-Heron, the revolution not only ‘wasn’t televised’ it just… wasn’t.

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I, however, have steadfastly endeavored to stay true-to-my-counter-culture roots— but most of my friends have ‘moved on,’… which is, of course, just another way of saying they sold-out.

I’m not sure why this is… perhaps they didn’t… er, self-medicate themselves enough?  Take my wife Carolyn, for example. She’s not worried about selling out. In fact, she recently told me, “…it’s 2008, Fatty, and—face it!—there are no buyers!”

But I continue to soldier on. I mean, I’m still a true-blue PinkoCommieFag. I still give the peace sign with a hopeful grin. I still say ‘far-out, man!” I still know all the lyrics to Alice’s Restaurant. I still believe in Abbie Hoffman… well, right up until he slit his wrists, anyway.

Of course, being an aging, buttock-sagging hippy means that I can’t work for anyone… because gainful corporate employment is restrictive.

In fact this whole ‘not working’ concept led me to an entire lifetime of abject poverty—despite, or because of, living in the Land of Plenty. To compensate, I moved to the Third World where everyone is as poor as I (though not by smug choice).

Thus I have missed out on a lot of techno-enslavement… which is how I think of much of the ‘modern conveniences’ of Western shore life.

…for instance, it used to be that you’d go into the corner grocery store, grab a dime soda, slap a dime on the counter… and waltz out. Not anymore!

First off, the ‘corner grocery’ store is now ten miles away through dense traffic—and you’d best have electro-locking doors on your Lexus or you might get car-jacked. Second, the two dollar soda doesn’t have a price tag… and inflation might have raised it to three dollars by the time you get it to the counter. To save time, the non-English-speaking carbon-life-form behind the counter will use a scanner to ‘input’ it into the ‘system…’ but that seldom works the first time… so they try scanning it in another dozen times… slower and slower… this-way-and-that-way… until finally the clerk is forced to punch in the fourteen digit product number AND their 12 digit employee number AND the store code AND the manager’s Zodiac sign… but, of course, one of the numbers is inputted wrong and the entire sequence has to begin… painstakingly… again… so that, finally, about 20 or 30 minutes into this POP (point of purchase) pantomime, the clerk puts your now-luke-warm soda into a plastic-bag-intended-to-gag-sea-turtles and says listlessly in Iranian, “…next!”

It used to be that retails businesses did their OWN inventory. Now, however, through the time-saving convenience of modern computers, we have to do it ourselves… for hours… each time we want a soda.

This is referred to as ‘progress’ and ‘time-saving convenience’ in the business community.

…where was I? How do I get off on these bizarre rants?

Ah, yes! I was explaining how I became a poverty-stricken sea gypsy in the Third World and missed out, thankfully, on a lot of high-tech advances.

Unfortunately, I did eventually have to work to earn a living. I know, I know… it seems far, far below my tie-dyed, bell-bottomed, Nehru-jacketed dignity—but that’s how the deal went down. So I began writing and this (somehow or another) led me to the Sultanship of Brunei and an international radio spot.

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Actually, my radio career was almost derailed by a mis-communication before it left the audio station.

“…but I’m not IN jail,” I responded in amazement when a hip Washington, D.C. studio executive said, “…we’ll call you on your cell.”

Of course, I figured it out… eventually. Many of today’s phones don’t have wires. And they’re mobile. Thus, they’re technically called mobile or wireless apparatuses. However, since most of their ‘early-adapters’ were incarcerated at Club Fed and thus needed smuggled-in mobile or wireless devices to continue conducting their criminal enterprises… they became widely known as cell phones… through the glories of hip-hop culture. (There is an urban myth that they were originally called ‘cellular’ phones because street people used to hide them in stalks of celery while strolling down the avenue… completely untrue!)

Anyway, my wife Carolyn and I suddenly found ourselves forced to buy mobile/wireless/cell phones—which we needed like a hole in our heads.

For one thing, we’re never apart. For two, we have no friends. For three, the only reason strangers have contacted me for the last decade or two… is to complain about articles like this.

In addition, it was immediately apparent that we didn’t give-good-phone.

Plus, Carolyn won’t allow me to be alone… and the only reason I wanted to be alone… was to call her on her new cell phone.

I’d say, “I’m gonna go ashore and take a shower,” and she’d say, “I’ll go with.”


…if she gets into the dinghy alone to go ashore, I call her just after she’s pulled the starter cord. She has to stop, shut off the outboard engine… search her purse/bag/pockets… (drifting though the anchorage all the while)… find her phone and NOT drop it into the water in the bottom of the dinghy… turn her phone on… hit the ‘talk’ button and shout “…is that you, Roma?” (Our daughter is the only one besides myself who has her number).

…but, alas, it is only me and she ain’t pleased… not at all.

…she has no phone manners!

…she shouts ‘expletives deleted!’

…texting is no better. I sent her a message which read, “DONT  B  L8  2  ***K,” and she texted me back. “…not romantic, you pervert!”

The last time we were at the Royal Brunei YC together… she was like a shadow… I could not lose her for a nano-second.

Thus, I slipped away to the head (the only place she can’t follow) and called her from there.

“…disgusting!” she said. “You have to call me for a REASON, Fatty!”

I had no idea.

…a reason?

Damn it!

So the following day I hiked a solid hour under the glaring tropical Brunei sun and called her from the local little grocery store. “I’m at the grocery store… do you want me to bring you back anything?”

“Yes,” she said. “Five pounds of sugar, please.”

Needless to say, I was taken aback. I mean, I wanted to call, sure, and I knew I had to have a reason… but five pounds of sugar weights five pounds… and I didn’t want to carry it at noon at 6 degrees of latitude.

“I’d rather not,” I said. “That’s too heavy. How ’bout I buy us a candy bar… and eat both halves here?”

“…you call me from a store on your new cell phone to tell me that you DON’T want to carry stuff,” she said. “That’s… that’s…. dumber-than-stupid!”

Thus we had I first ‘mobile’ argument.

I guess that’s progress.

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Cap'n Fatty Goodlander
Cap'n Fatty Goodlanderhttp://fattygoodlander.com/
Cap’n Fatty Goodlander has lived aboard for 53 of his 60 years, and has circumnavigated twice. He is the author of Chasing the Horizon and numerous other marine books. His latest, Buy, Outfit, and Sail is out now. Visit: fattygoodlander.com

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