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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Jennifer Cook

Finding Your Passion and Following Your Dream

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

Sometimes in life you find a passion that you never knew existed. That seems to happen with people later in life as you settle down and start to realize there are not as many years left ahead of you. At that point you begin to look inward to find true meaning in your life. You quit worrying about what other people think and instead focus on what makes you feel alive!

For myself, I found that I had a passion for sailing back in my late 30's/early 40's. Funny enough, I found this passion completely by accident. I realized in early 2014 that Jenny and I had not taken a real vacation alone from 2002 to 2014. Twelve years! I know to most people reading our "travel" blog where we live on the road 24/7 this must seem very strange. However, every story has a beginning and for us traveling started on a specific trip back in May of 2014. Jenny and I decided it was time to take a break and focus on each other for a week. We decided to head to St. Augustine, FL. Honestly, we are not big Florida people. It is too hot for us, there are other places we'd like to visit with amazing beaches, and (for Jenny), there are too many alligators. She is terrified of gators and has developed a "slight" phobia with them.

Anyway, I digress- Despite some of our trepidations about vacationing in Florida, we do love the history and the mix of cultures in St. Augustine. Plus we enjoy a more laid back vibe rather than the party atmosphere found at other beach towns in Florida. We decided to take a chance way back in 2014 and booked a vacation that changed the direction of our lives forever in multiple ways.

To keep this post a little more manageable, I will stick with how this trip changed me in one way rather than pour into how this set us on a path to travel full time. What I discovered is that I had a deep love for sailing! Not driving a boat around with a motor, but true sailing. Man against nature (or man working with nature). The wind filling the sails, the rigging tightening and straining against the waves, and the absolute quietness when you are far out at sea with no one around.

I found this love and passion purely by accident. We were wrapping up our trip and on the day we were supposed to leave I saw an add for Freedom Schooners two hour tours. I was not ready for the fun to end, so I asked my wife if we could book one more excursion. I knew she would say yes because my wife loves to be on the water in any boat. I called and got us two tickets not knowing how big this one decision would become in my life.

We boarded and sat near the wheel with Captain John. Within minutes I was having the time of my life and the Captain could tell. At one point he asked if I would like to help hoist one of her sails. I sprang into action and that was it. My heart exploded with passion. Where had this been all my life?! For the next two hours I soaked up every moment and had never felt more alive. Since that time, I have talked about that one sailing excursion more than just about any other travel experience over these last nine years.

My wife never forgot how much I loved sailing off the coast of St. Augustine and while we continued to live in North Georgia for many years after that trip, she quietly made plans. She knew one day she would find a way to let me dive into this new found passion.

Fast forward to 2023 and we are now happily living our nomadic lifestyle. Better yet, we were living in Washington and we were surrounded by water on all sides. My wife's quiet planning came to fruition when she gleefully surprised me with sailing lessons for my birthday. Before I knew it, I was out on my very own keel boat learning how to sail.

This experience was everything I could have ever hoped for. We had a good breeze blowing and spent roughly nine hours on the water on the first day. About half way through, we experienced the moment I had been waiting for over all these years: We were out on our own and the only sound was the sails blowing in the wind and the tightening of the rigging as we glided the boat through the water. It was simply magic! It was everything I could have hoped for and then some. The primal feeling of harnessing the power of the wind and water and working to bend them to my will made me feel one with Mother Nature. I could not help but wonder if this is what other sailors have felt over the years? That knowledge that one wrong move could result in disaster or even death. Yet, when you return to port a little wiser, and more experienced, you know that you won the day. Of course, the slate is wiped clean and you start over 0-0 the very next time you go out on the water. There is no better feeling and nothing more exhilarating!

On the second day sailing, I was gifted a special treat. It felt like Mother Nature applauded me for my first day on the water because as I was guiding the boat through the water we had a visitor that wanted to follow along.

At this point we trimmed the sails and glided through the water while the seal kept pace. He even looked over at me as of to say "I see you. Keep going."

In the end it is moments like this one that makes sailing such a passion for me. You are out on the water by yourself. This is freedom! There is truly no where you can not go. For someone like me the endless possibilities of sailing off into the distance fires my passion to new levels.

To close out this blog post I'd like to add that we are going back to St. Augustine, Florida in October. I plan to take us back on The Freedom Schooner and share my passion with Captain John. I bet he will be pleased to know that sailing with him all those years ago has changed my life in such a fundamental way.

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Oct 10, 2023

I truly enjoyed reading yours and Jen’s adventure. so much so I didn’t realize I only had 1 bar on my phone so I’m tied down to the couch. Haha

The pictures are phenomenal! Being one (in the past) not much for traveling, I would give anything to be able to travel and see the amazing scenery that u and Jen have seen. And when it comes to the “History“ where there is history with these places I am ALL THERE! I love history. Now I’m looking forward in “reading” all about your and Jen’s Adventure. Jen tells me a lot but with her busy schedule it’s hard to share as much as as I see on your blog! Also…

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