I’m Lucky to be Obsessed

I can’t truthfully say when my passion for boats and the ocean began, it seems to have always been a part of my life. Growing up on the coast of Maine my first sailing experiences were with my family on my grandparent’s boats. As a baby I was nestled into an L.L. Bean Tote Bag and passed from dock to dinghy, dinghy to boat. Some of my favorite summer memories are cruising the coast, visiting secluded anchorages, and exploring new islands. Somewhere in those experiences the seed was planted, and the passion has never ceased to grow.

[Tweet ” “If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything.” EB White “]

Being a merchant mariner, a sailor, and a full-time liveaboard, I’ve often thought that maybe my time on boats is becoming excessive. I’ve never grown tired of them but is it odd that my whole life revolves around the ocean and the boats upon it? I certainly don’t think so.  The thing is, everyone has a passion, so why not boating?

I’m not alone in my sentiment. E.B. White was a fanatical sailor and often writes of his need to be around or upon the ocean. He reconciled his similar enthusiasm, stating, “If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most.”

A beautiful old boat in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

A beautiful old boat in Nova Scotia

There is something about the way a boat glides through the water, the graceful arc of the waves parting at the bow. You can’t help but admire the centuries of trial and error that lead to the precise curves of a boat’s hull. And the ingenious shape of modern sails lifting a boat to the wind as a wing does for an airplane. A boat awakens the sailor, the engineer, the mechanic, the physicist and the biologist inside me. So many forces must come together to suspend a boat between the sea and the sky, and propel it towards the horizon with nothing more than a pressure differential. It’s a beautiful thing.

We all have a passion, an obsession – something that stokes the soul’s fire. Some turn to classic cars, some to gardening. Painting, bicycling, hiking, hunting…we all have something that we think about when we close our eyes. For me, it’s boats. Operating them, fixing them, improving them, looking at them, building them, writing about them…I love it all. I’ve never regretted a day spent around boats.

A McAllister tugboat in Portland Harbor

A McAllister tugboat in Portland Harbor

What I have realized is that while my passion is not uncommon, I have the unique fortune of being able to pursue it every day. I am genuinely lucky to have found this obsession, this career path and this lifestyle early on in life. I may not always go to sea as a merchant mariner, or live on a boat, but the enthusiasm will continue and boats will always be a focal point in my life.

Obsessions, despite the often negative connotation, can be a positive force that give your life meaningful purpose. A healthy, productive obsession will define who you are, influence your decisions, and mold your daily life. I encourage everyone to find what brings them joy, embrace that which inspires them to think critically, and to cherish all that enlightens their creativity. Boats may not be your obsession, but they are absolutely mine, and I’m thankful to have realized it.

What is your obsession? Share it in the comments, maybe it will inspire someone else to pursue that passion as well!

Matt Garand

About Matt Garand

Lifelong Mainer, and professional mariner, Matt Garand is the creator of A Life Aboard, a look at year-round living on a sailboat in Maine. Matt and his wife, Skye, live aboard in South Portland and use every available chance to throw off the lines and explore the coast.