BE ALL IN OR GET ALL OUT
Be all in or get all out - anything less is a waste of time
The greatest times of life are the all in moments.
Marriage is “till death do you part”. Children are forever.
The all in moments require an irrevocable commitment, and they are the model for how we make make dreams come true.
The best things in my life have always been all in.
Creeping ambivalence is a destroyer of dreams.
I read the story of 16 year old Robin Lee Graham sailing singlehanded around the world when I was in college. That National Geographic story was the first time I made an irrevocable commitment to do anything - to sail around the world.
It was more than 25 years before I purchased my catamaran - Exit Only - and I set out on my own eleven year circumnavigation of planet earth.
That’s the way irrevocable commitments work. I was all in, and it was only a matter of time before I would get a boat and set sail.
Three weeks after sailing to New Zealand, I nearly died in a car accident - I was hospitalized for two months in Taranaki Base Hospital where I had three operations, seven units of blood, and I had metal placed in both of my legs. It required more than six months to be able to walk again - limp without crutches - and it took a year before I got the metal out of my legs. Lots of people thought my sailing days were over, but they did not understand that I was all in, and I would move heaven and earth to finish my sailing voyage around the world.
We sailed to New Zealand twice on our voyage around the world.
When we left Whangarei for the last time, we got caught in a winter storm 300 miles north of New Zealand. We knew it was going to be a challenging trip because it was southern winter, and we had to wait nineteen days before we found a weather slot that gave us a slim chance of a safe voyage north. Unfortunately, the slot closed as a low pressure area moved off the Tasman sea. Winds reached fifty knots and confused seas pummeled Exit Only. Rough seas destroyed 12 eyelets that hold our trampolines in place on our bows. With gaping holes in our trampolines, we deployed an eighteen foot diameter parachute sea anchor on 500 feet of 1 inch nylon double braid.
Once our parachute sea anchor expanded under water, Exit Only settled down and weathered the squash zone without a problem.
As we were lying to the parachute sea anchor, a containership sailed by and contacted us on VHF radio saying, “Little boat - What are you doing out here?” They said that most of their crew was seasick, and they made sure we were ok.
One container ship lost 19 containers overboard in that storm.
Were we crazy to leave New Zealand when there was a significant probably that we would get hit by a winter gale?
Perhaps, but we were all in, and when you are all in, you do what you have to do, and usually you survive.
When we sailed to Thailand, the Global Tsunami of December 2004 killed more than 200,000 people in the basin of the Indian Ocean. The Tsunami put massive amounts of debris into the sea. Sailing across the Indian Ocean involved running through a gauntlet of debris - three gyres of debris to be exact. The first debris line was 90 miles off the coast of Thailand. The second debris line was in the Andaman Sea as you sailed past the Andaman Islands. The third debris line was south of Sri Lanka - giant logs that could punch a hole in your hull and sink your boat.
The only way to get to the Red Sea was to run the gauntlet to the Maldives and on to Oman.
To be honest, we never considered aborting our voyage in Thailand. We would cross the Indian Ocean - come hell or high water - we were all in.
About a dozen yachts left Thailand, and our small flotilla sailed across the Indian Ocean dodging debris as we went. Most of the small debris was not a problem, but floating trees got our attention. When we got on the morning radio net, people told about large bangs that happened when they ran into debris and logs in the middle of the night. One yacht bent the rudder post on his self steering wind vane after hitting a log.
The conflict with the Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka was still a problem, and the word on the radio nets was that some of harbors mined with explosive charges had the mines break free during the tsunami, and there was a possibility that some of those mines were floating south of Sri Lanka. That got our attention, and was a great incentive to keep a sharp lookout.
Although we were all in, we were not stupid. When we were in the massive debris south of Sri Lanka, we hove to at night. We felt it was foolish to sail blindly through a debris field in the darkness. In the daytime, we had someone on the bows looking for the biggest and most harmful debris.
We made it through the tsunami debris fields without any serious damage - just some chipped gel coat.
The next challenge was pirates of the Arabian Gulf. Somali pirates occasionally picked off yachts in the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Aden.
One yacht didn’t want to deal with the piracy issue, and they sailed to India, put their sailboat on a freighter and shipped it to the Mediterranean Sea. Problem solved.
Exit Only was all in, so we sailed to Salalah, Oman. 40 sailboats made it to Salalah without a problem leaving frustrated pirates in our wake. Chalk up a victory for those who are all in.
We partnered up with a buddy boat in Salalah, and made a five day voyage to Aden, where we enjoyed the kindness and hospitality of the Yemeni people. We had to refuel in Yemen because there was no place to pick up diesel until we arrived in Sudan. No fuel was available for yachts in Eritrea.
Only two boats in our fleet of 40 yachts had a problem with piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and the pirates lost in that encounter. Although AK-47s and Kalishnakovs are scary, nothing beats pirates better than a shotgun at close range, but that is another story.
The Red Sea is not for the faint of heart, but it’s not a problem for the all in.
The faint of heart see headwinds, sandstorms, landmines, dengue fever, and reefs on the western coast of the Red Sea.
The rest of us see a great photo op, excellent diving, challenging sailing and unforgettable adventures.
For me it was a privilege to visit Sudan - I had many Sudanese patients when I was an eye surgeon at King Khalid Eye Specialist Hospital in Arabia, and it was a pleasure to visit their country. The Sudanese people are both proud and gracious. I am continually amazed at the generosity of poor people around the world. Every place I travel, the poorest of the poor are willing to share the little that they have. I am 100% sure than heaven is going to be populated mostly by the poor. Billionaires, not so much.
I could not have had any of these adventures without being all in.
Being all in took me around the world and made it possible to weather every challenge.
When I arrived in the USA after our circumnavigation, I put my sailboat in storage
Exit Only remained in storage for ten years while I was a flying doctor with the Indian Health Service.
During those ten years, Exit Only languished in a boatyard in Florida.
When Dito and Sarah asked whether it would be possible for Exit Only to sail once again, I thought long and hard about what it would take to make it happen. The resurrection of Exit Only was clearly an all in commitment that would require more than $100,000 to get new engines, new sails, new rigging, new electronics, new radios, new props and prop shafts, replace all through hulls, replace the cabin liner, new trampolines, new batteries, and new autopilot - the list goes on and on.
The all in commitment would also require at least six months of hard work.
We decided to make it happen. We went all out because we were all in.
When we were ready to set sail, we drove our vehicles back to Phoenix and prepared to fly back to Florida to start our new adventure. Unfortunately, the universe had other ideas. The universe decided to save my life with emergency surgery for a necrotic gall bladder before I set sail. I had four surgical procedures and more than a few complications over the next two months. I lost 40 pounds in the process, but I survived. It took six months to regain my strength, but when I was well, I flew back to Exit Only ready to set sail. I still was all in.
Four days before we were to leave on our adventure, I tripped on a dock line in the dark, and I blew out my hip socket. The fractured hip socket required hospitalization and rehab for ten weeks for the broken hip to heal. When I could get back on the boat and walk with crutches, we set sail, and it was not until we arrived in Panama that I donated my crutches to those who needed them more than me.
The thought never entered my mind that the voyage was over - it was simply delayed because I was all in.
We cruised the Bahamas, Cartagena, San Blas Islands, Bocas Del Toro, transited the Panama Canal, sailed to Galapagos, and when French Polynesia shut down, we sailed 2000 miles to the Sea of Cortez.
We have been in Covid 19 quarantine for more than 100 days, and we are still going strong.
If you want to make your dreams come true, there is only one way to make it happen. You have to be all in.
Be all in or get all out. Anything less is a waste of time.