There’s no shortage in any marina of production sailboats with exotic names like Windcatcher, Zepherous or Blue Heron. These crafts illicit ideas of adventure, freedom and salt-crusted character.
Marina people live within such a world, rowing from slip to slip in their Zodiacs with cookies and beer for their fellow sailors. It’s a fine place to be indeed, but among these harbor sailors live some real live salts who have taken the idea of self-made adventure to new heights of pure adventure.
What could be jauntier than clipping along the open ocean on a boat you built yourself? And when you think about it, there’s no better way to know your boat than to have made it with your own two hands. Well, your hands and a collection of tools, rigs, jigs, resins and materials, not to mention money. Nonetheless, there is a specific value in the craftsmanship behind boat building.
Consider Thor Heyerdahl. First, his name alone drips of adventure, and in fact he spent the Second World War slapping magnetic mines to German warships in Norwegian harbors. Once the war ended, needing something to fill the adventure void, Heyerdahl developed his theory that early humans migrated across the Pacific in reed boats, and he built a Kon Tiki to prove it.
The value of Heyerdahl isn’t only that he was a badass, it’s that he inspires us to get outdoors and do grand things. And really if you’re going to get into cruiser sailing hard core, then you might as well get your knuckles into it and build your own boat. One such contemporary mariner sailed alone across the Atlantic in a home built 14-foot sailboat.
So there’s really not much standing in the way of a genuine nautical legend in the making, or at least a craft you can truly call your own. And people do it more often than you might think. Here’s another on how to build a sailboat.