Conversations with Jamie

Serendipity isn't something one can falsify. If you can't falisify it, you can't test it in a laboratory. If you can't contain, measure or quantify something, and in these ways exercise control, then it's not scientific. Chance meetings, unlooked for coincidences and the like fall into this mythical realm of things that you sort of suspect exist but probably aren't real, not being scientifically measurable and all. Selfless love and God fall into this category as well. Unproveable, not disprovable, probably a sham.

Let's say you were attending a conference in the pharmaceutical realm. The speaker gets up and shocks the audience with a simple scientific proof of God instead of a talk about the efficacy of a new chemical therapy.  The buzz afterward would include many phrases like, "That makes sense" and "I always knew there was something to that God thang." and "I wonder why it's taken so long for someone to think of that; I mean, wasn't it really obvious?"

What these commentators fail to realize is that these things are obvious once you believe they are real. In fact, they are screaming from every sunrise lit by your daughter's smile. But if control and cynicism are the prism you use to refract the real world, these unprovables are anything but obvious. In fact, they might even be subversive.

In 2007, we took a sailing trip to the Exumas, a remote string of islands 150 miles off the coast of Florida.   There were few other boats out but, a few times, we did notice another catamaran named Vitamin Sea.  As we were wrapping up the trip I ducked into the the Marina office, usually deserted this time of year, for a quick email check.   There was another guy with a Mac laptop there as well, a bit of a surprise.   He was having some wifi connectivity issues, so I tried to help for a minute or two.  Then never thought another thing about it.

Fast forward two and a half years.  Now it's 2009 and we are advertising our catamaran share for sale.   The fractional ownership thing had been a big success, showing the girls and convincing a previously skeptical wife that living aboard really was possible, and maybe even fun.   I posted the ad on craigslist in Denver, Colorado, on a whim.

I got some emails back, one of which came from a guy named Jamie*.  What starts and proceeds as a normal email chain between strangers, ends with some realizations and an unexpected punch.

From: Jamie
To: share-clearbluesailing.com
Subject: Sailboat
Date: Sat, 27 Jun 2009 21:39:55 -0600

We recently saw your ad on craigslist.  We have been looking for an opportunity like this one.  We are in the middle of selling our house and business so the timing may not be right, but we would still like to talk to you about it.  I have spent some time on a friend's Manta 40 catamaran in addition to my own boats.  Having one in the Exumas is another draw.  Staniel Cay is one of my favorite places in the world.   

I look forward to hearing from you.

Cheers,
Jamie
From: Peter Torkelson
To: Jamie
Subject: Re: Sailboat
Date: Sat, 27 Jun 2009 21:46:32 -0600

Ok, I'd be happy to talk. It's probably a little late today, so perhaps tomorrow or Monday. We are driving to our cabin tomorrow, so it will be a bit of a scramble until we get there. Feel free to call Sunday afternoon, Monday or Tuesday if you haven't heard from me first.

P.
From: Jamie
To: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Re: Sailboat
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 2009 20:18:06 -0600

I'll give you a call tomorrow afternoon.

Cheers, Jamie
From: Jamie
To: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Re: Sailboat
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 2009 22:50:54 -0600

I think you had some postings on the Cruisers Forum about your boat.
If so, I really enjoyed them. I'm wondering if you have it docked at Emerald Bay or if it's up the chain a little ways like Staniel Cay? I think the boat is too big to get put on the hard at the Georgetown Marina. We barely got my friends' out. I've spent some time on a Manta 40 and this is the type of opportunity I'm looking for. I'm in the middle of selling a business and a house, but hopefully things ill work out right. Is there a good time for me to call you?

Cheers,
Jamie
From: Peter Torkelson
To: Jamie
Subject: Re: Sailboat
Date: Mon, 29 Jun 2009 12:15:34 -0600

So you have been to Emerald Bay Marina? Small world, that is where we keep the boat when it's not in Florida during the hurricane season. I think we saw a Manta 40 a few times. I think it was named "Vitamin Sea". Was that your friend's boat?

P.

We then have a phone conversation where all the dots are connected.   It was his friend's boat, he was the guy I helped with the wifi, etc.    Put that in a test tube and bake it.

From: Jamie
To: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Re: Email to Bob
Date: Thu, 09 Jul 2009 16:15:04 -0600

I'm trying to get my company under contract so I can do this, but I know that you probably have other people interested too. Please don't hold it for me, but I'm going to try and do everything I can to make it happen.

Cheers,
Jamie
From: Peter Torkelson
To: Jamie
Subject: Re: Sailboat
Date: Thu, 09 Jul 2009 18:03:19 -0600

Ok, no problem. There are several other interested parties, but mostly questions, etc. Let me know as soon as something solidifies on your end.

P.
From: Jamie
To: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Re: Sailboat
Date: Sun, 19 Jul 2009 09:01:16 -0600

Peter,

I got one half of my hurdle out of the way with a new contract with a new company. I still need to sell off my C----- business. I know you can't hold it for me, but please keep me updated on the sale. Also, I would really like to talk to you about your plans with your family. We are starting to put a several year plan together for doing the same thing you are starting with this boat. Let me know if you have some free time.

thanks,
Jamie

Cheers,
Jamie
From: Peter Torkelson
To: Jamie
Subject: Re: Sailboat
Date: Sun, 19 Jul 2009 12:13:39 -0600

Sure, I'd be happy to talk sometime. Still in limbo with a couple of interested parties. I'll let you know if anything official develops.

P.
From: Jamie
To: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Re: Sailboat
Date: Sun, 19 Jul 2009 14:22:36 -0600

Selling a business is becoming pretty involved and we haven't even come to terms yet. I don't know if you'll still have the share or not when I'm done with it, but I will definitely pick it up if you do. I really wish you luck with this sale and your year abroad. I'll call you later today.


Jamie
From: Peter Torkelson
To: Jamie
Subject: Re: Sailboat
Date: Sun, 26 Jul 2009 07:13:22 -0600

Jamie,

Thought I should give you a heads up that we have accepted offers on both my share and the LLC share. Of course, both are still pending LLC approval on a checkout sail and so may not actually work out.

Bob enjoyed talking to you and asked me to convey that he hopes you'll be able to pursue a future opening. If experience is any guide, there's usually a share available every year or two.


P.
From: Jamie
To: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Re: Status
Date: Sun, 26 Jul 2009 20:35:10 -0600

Peter,

It was great talking to you today. I know that my wife and I will be following your footsteps in a few years. Thanks for all of the advice.

Cheers,
Jamie
From: Jamie
To: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Re: Status
Date: Thu, 03 Dec 2009 12:29:19 -0700

Peter,

I was wondering if you ever picked out a boat. I hope your adventure is starting soon.

Cheers,
Jamie
From: Peter Torkelson
To: Jamie
Subject: Re: Status
Date: Thu, 03 Dec 2009 12:40:51 -0700

Nice to hear from you.

I have found one, actually, but the I am suffering from the general economic pessimism. On paper we can easily afford it, but that assumes my business remains healthy, and that we can sell off some of our real estate when we need to. I am not sure about either, so am holding off the test sail until Feb, assuming she is still available.

See: www.bequia-properties.com/Lagoon%2047/Lagoon_47_pictures.htm

She is older, but has the design features we like, galley down, hard top, gear driven steering, isolated engine compartments, etc.

P.


Two years pass

From: Jamie
To: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Exumas
Date: Fri, 01 Mar 2013 15:01:37 -0700

Peter,

We met a few years ago when I was in the Exumas on a friend's Manta. I looked at the share that you had for sale at the time. You were talking about taking your family on a year cruise. I just came across your website again and was wondering if you ever made the journey. I'd love to know if you did. I hope all is well.

Cheers,
Jamie
From: Peter Torkelson
To: Jamie
Subject: Re: Status
Date: Sat, 02 Mar 2013 16:27:10 -0700
Jamie,

Yes, we are aboard now, actually. Some dreams really do come true. We have been out for 27 months on our Lagoon 47. www.lagoon47.com We are marketing her now as we look to move back ashore in the next year or so.

our blog is: www.thenonconformist.com Highlights and Vignettes are favorites that don't require a login.

P.
From: Jamie
To: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Re: Exumas
Date: Sat, 02 Mar 2013 17:33:24 -0700

I'm so glad to hear about your adventure. I need your wife to meet my wife :). We have three trips planned right now. BVI (sail catamaran charter) in April. San Juan's in July and hopefully Prince William Sound in August. Please let us know if you are in any of those places.

Jamie

Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2013 14:19:54 -0400
To: Jamie
From: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Re: Exumas

We'll hopefully be in Grenada by April, but who knows. Anchored off Nevis at the moment.

P.

Subject: Re: Exumas
From: Jamie
Date: Sat, 20 Apr 2013 08:27:23 -0600
To: Peter Torkelson

Peter,
We are off to BVI tomorrow through may 3rd. Did you guys make it any farther north?

Jamie Haggard
970-215-3291

Date: Sat, 20 Apr 2013 14:15:19 -0400
To: Jamie
From: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Re: Exumas

We are still in Guadeloupe. Probably won't make it much farther north this year.

P.

Subject: Re: Exumas
From: Jamie
Date: Sun, 21 Apr 2013 11:01:45 -0600
To: Peter Torkelson

We love your website. Its going to be talked about a lot on this trip. Safe travels. Hopefully we'll cross paths again.

Jamie

Date: Sun, 21 Apr 2013 19:25:21 -0400
To: Jamie
From: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Re: Exumas

Jamie,

Your wife is more than welcome to email Lisa with questions or concerns she has if that would be helpful.

P.

Subject: Re: Exumas
From: Jamie
Date: Sat, 27 Apr 2013 06:53:15 -0600
To: Peter Torkelson

Thank you so much. She is having a great time on this cat. I think we are starting to turn the corner about living aboard. How much longer will you be out cruising? We'd love to ask questions when you return.

Jamie
Mobile 555-555-5555

Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2013 18:16:20 -0400
To: Jamie
From: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Re: Exumas

That's good news. We really don't know how long we'll be out. The tables have turned, as it were. Lisa doesn't want to move ashore, but I am about ready. Mainly because the boat requires so much on going work to maintain and partly because the girls are getting bigger and more adult like and harder to live with in a confined space. My almost 14 year old is developing a mind of her own. Go figure.

P.

From: Jamie
Subject: Re: Exumas
Date: Tue, 04 Jun 2013 08:18:39 -0600
To: Peter Torkelson

Peter,

I hope the winds are carrying you to the destinations of your dreams. I absolutely love your website. We spent an incredible two weeks in the BVI. It was much needed and almost a requirement at this point. I loved your story about the prisoners and the van pool. I had a couple of epiphanies recently that have left me almost desperate for an escape like the one you are on. The van pool story especially hit home for me.

I've moved up the corporate ladder not for want, but for survival. I was sitting on a plane right before our trip and looked around. There were a dozen other business men putting their sport coats away and rushing to get the last couple of emails out before we had to turn off our phones. As I looked around, I saw death. Everyone was at least 25-50 pounds overweight and obviously stressed at their jobs. Most were in their late 40s and 50s and one foot in the grave although they didn't know it. I thought to myself that I can't become one of those fools and die at 60 of a heart attack in some hotel. The stress of my job has become ridiculous and I felt that actually needed the sail trip. I started to feel like my health would start to deteriorate if I didn't go.

We had the best family trip that I could have ever imagined. On the second day, my wife was watching our 6 year old still snorkeling after 5 hours on Peter Island. He had refused to wear a mask in the pool a month before and now was flourishing on the trip. She looked over at me, nodded, and said we could do this. It only got better from there. No toys and the ipad only came out on a bumpy trip to Anegada. My children loved not having all the other excess crap that we all think we need to survive. This force inside me that had been building for years was now approaching full steam. I had to find a way to make this happen, even if it took us years to get there financially.

The nail in the coffin (pardon the pun, but it's too accurate) came on our last day. A man had a heart attack right in front of me on the dingy dock and didn't survive despite our best efforts to revive him. He was an older heavy set gentlemen and was at least lucky enough to die at the end of a a great trip.

Even though I've lost 25 pounds of executive fat in the last year and stay in great shape, I know I'm on the same path as that guy. So your website had been a lifeline to me. I love the stories of mutilated moths and waiting for a stranger's dinghy in the rain when yours is in a mud flat. I'd love to have access to the rest of your stories. I have been going to it every time I get on a plane instead of rushing to send a few more emails. Thanks in advance.

Jamie

P.S. I have shared your last email with every one I know that has a daughter. They loved it.

Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2013 22:52:31 -0400
To: Jamie
From: Peter Torkelson
Subject: Re: Exumas

Jamie,

Wow, that is quite a story. Nothing like having the point driven home. It sounds like you had a breakthrough on the wife and family buy in front. That can be a really tough sell. I would say half or more of the couples with kids we meet are in the same boat (skeptical wife, desparate dreamer husband). Some of the ladies never really like it, just putting up with the current "husband phase". But then, twice now, we have gotten emails from reluctant first mates how miss it now that they are back in the same old rat race, which really never changes.

It's interesting that you are so aware of the health angle. Perhaps you're a medical professional, but I didn't really think much about that, for me it was mostly a freedom thing. It's really only looking back that I see how much has changed. At work, my hands/wrists were starting to really go south, lots of burning, stiffness etc. My feet were so painful at times I couldn't walk barefoot in the house, had to have just the right slippers on. Basically, my fingers were overworked in repetitive motion and the rest of me was degrading from dis-use. I tried to routinely exercise, but it's tough to fit in the schedule and just never seems to "pay" at the moment.

After 29 months aboard, I have never felt better. We try to be careful with the sunscreen thing, and there are some old guys out here on boats that clearly didn't take UV to heart for the last 20 years, so I am routinely re-motivated to stick with the "blockout" as the Aussies say. Otherwise, it's all good.

P.


From: Jamie
Subject: Re: Exumas
Date: Wed, 05 Jun 2013 09:51:46 -0600
To: Peter Torkelson

Peter,

Emails from you are bittersweet. I'm happy for your incredible journey, but I feel like one of the convicts still in prison after his buddy was paroled. Your comments on health couldn't be more accurate.

I really long for the feeling that I had on this last boat trip. My wife was amazed at how less we lived on. We are not the ultimate consumers, but it's easy to have things add up at home. We are putting together a budget and figuring out ways to save like we never have. I read a great book about a family that figured out how to live with so much less and four years later they were gone. I remember talking to you before you had even bought a boat. You said that you were coming to the point where if you don't go soon, you may never go. My kids are 6 and 4. I'm on a six year clock right now. Following your path is becoming an obsession. Now with my wife on board, I think I can rally make this happen.

I met a guy on the same trip that I met you. He had two small boys with his wife. They lived just outside NYC. On a Saturday, he took his kids into the city. The oldest asked if this is where he lived during the week. The boy didn't realize that he left before they woke up everyday and returned when they were asleep. He said he had tears in his eyes and was shopping for boats the next weekend.

Hopefully our journeys intertwine at some point.

Jamie

*Jamie consented to publishing our exchange. With a few light edits for clarity and anonymity, these are verbatim.