“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
There are 17 million registered boats in the United States, and they’re unused 95% of the time. That works out to a combined 5,865,000,000 days per year that could be spent sailing the ocean blue. Meanwhile, those empty vessels are costing their owners a combined $8,000,000,000 in maintenance, storage and other costs.
Boats are a luxury item that should be more affordable. The purchase cost isn’t too steep: usually between $10,000 and $30,000. But why buy a boat if you can only use it a few times a year? Of America’s 75 million boat lovers, the vast majority choose to rent or share ownership in their pleasure vessel of choice.
The numbers don’t lie: Cruzin is a smart idea. A peer-to-peer service that will allow boat owners to rent to qualified applicants, Cruzin is currently raising seed investment and hopes to raise anchor with a live site next month.
“This creates a channel for boat owners that didn’t exist before,” says Jaclyn Baumgarten, Cruzin founder and CEO. “For people who have to budget the money every year to be able to keep their boat, now they have a way to turn it into a source of income instead. They may even be able to buy a boat they couldn’t have afforded before.”
When Cruzin launches, it’ll do so with insurance backing from Lloyd’s of London. That insurance is crucial to the success of a rental-based model. Right now, most insurance policies won’t let owners collect money for the use of their dinghies and skiffs. Once you hand over the helm to a paying customer, your ship is uninsured. Cruzin aims to navigate those uncharted waters, offering primary insurance to boat owners and approved renters.
As for renters, there’s an important catch: No captain, no boat. Not just any land lubber can plunk down cash and cruise away in a yacht. To be approved by Cruzin, you’ll need to undergo identity and fraud checks, and submit proof that you’ve completed a reputable safety training program – or else hire a qualified captain. Probably a good idea, when you think about it.
Ultimately – as with other P2P services like AirBnB – Cruzin users will rely on reviews, photos and other reputation-building tools to sort the sailors from the pirates. It has also announced an exclusive deal with BoatUS – with America’s largest membership association of boat owners, the AAA of boats – and will reach out to its 600,000 members to build its base.
Still, you don’t need to own a schooner or a yacht to list a boat. Cruzin will include boats of all types, from any place in the U.S., as long as they meet key criteria and are well maintained.
Rental sharing and P2P solutions aren’t just smart economically, but from a resource perspective too. Getting more use out of the things we have already own means less waste. And by making maritime adventuring more accessible, Cruzin can open up plenty of new horizons.
Request your invitation to Cruzin here.
While I am officially working out and eating right for my health and longevity and to appease my doctor, the truth is I am working out a couple hours a day and running, walking, and eating right so that I can get back into this pretty carbon fiber racing shell by the guys over at Hudson Boatworks — my heavyweight single.
The picture is Gerris up in her rack. She’s getting dusty because I am afraid I would currently sink the poor baby. Wish me luck! I will be in her by Spring if not earlier.
It is true that Mark had talked to Paul about being okayed to be allowed to take out Sculls onto the river; it is true that Mark and I rowed in college at GWU. When Mark and I arrived to rent racing sculls from the Thompson Boat Center (from where Mark and I rowed during college), I hadn’t rowed any shells in ten-years, and I had never rowed in a single scull in my life.
We played it cool, and before long, Mark was using his Silver Tongue on the Manager. He was able to secure for each of us an 11-row pass, which gave us carte blanche to take out racing sculls onto the Potomac 11 times.
We both played it cool, but when we got to the river, it really was a comedy act like you would never have believed. We were pointing the oar locks in the wrong direction, we were awkwardly playing the boats and sitting wrongly, possibly injuring fiberglass and the single’s structure in the rush.
I even tipped and fell over the moment I tried to push off. Right into the drink. Soaked GAP Khaki shorts, black leather belt, and black tee, with a dead cell (I was expecting a call from Wendy — we were to Kayak later, after the Caper) I jumped in again, changed my oarlocks — thanks to the help of the Aussie who later narced on us — and pushed off!
With the oarlocks positioned like they’re supposed to (like pointing a gun, point the oarlock away from you!) it was like riding a bike. There are enough commonalities between the Heavyweight Eight Sweeps I used to row in College and sculling; between the Walden Pond Blue Kayaks and sculling. Within 100 meters, I was doing pretty well and moved on to using the full slide.
My hands bonked into each other, a caught a couple crabs, and there were a few times when I forgot to look behind me, but I felt the sun, I smelled the mildly fetid waters, and felt the muscles work in my gluts, in my back, and in my shoulders.
I row obsessively on my Concept II rowing ergometer. They call it an indoor rower. The strength and stamina I have acquired translated directly and all the training and fantasizing I has been doing came to fruit in that quick flee from what I was beginning to suspect was a bliss and abandon — the perfect caper on one hand and the ease with which I warmed up to this sport which has always been too sexy, too delicate, and too elite to actually pursue — was going to be short-lived. Before the Caper, cut wood and carry water; after the Caper, cut wood and carry water.
I figured I has been found out when Mark never did leave the dock. I was alone out there,
Squared blade. The catch. The drive. The finish. Feather blade. The recovery.
A Thomsons Boat House skiff, like one skiff my coach used to take out from which to coach us, left the dock — I could see it in the distance for I was already passing the Potomac Boat Club‘s boat house — and powering towards me, I was certain.
They took quite a while to arrive. There is such a difference between moving through the water in my Little Blue Kayak and cutting through the water in the racing shell. Their skiff, with its outboard engine, took forever and I tried to ignore their relatively lazy pursuit.
When they arrived, I was asked to board their boat. They took one oar, me, and then the other. They pulled the scull up next to the skiff, turned around, and powered me back. Instead of being screwed, though, I was told that it happens all the time. Instead of being busted, we were offered a generous opportunity:
“if you take the course we are offering starting Monday at 6pm,” said the Manager calmly, “we will credit the money you have paid to it and we will forget this ever happened.
“We came to get you as a matter of safety,” he added, still calmly, “and when you finish your five days of classes, you can come back here and rent the singles to your heart’s content.”
So we did just that, Mark and I. We will both me down at Thompsons Boat House every evening at 6pm for our course; afterwards, we will be licensed to transcend any time we want or can afford — weather permitting.
It really doesn’t get better than this, to be sure.
I have been sculling every evening, for at least an hour and fifteen minutes per. Highlights include a pair of deer grazing at the river’s edge while I bobbed quietly ten-yards away from them. Right near Fletcher’s Boat House, blazing orange sunsets, amateur crews practicing, exotic canoes and kayaks training out of the WCC, Ospreys circling for fish, cormorants diving, young duck families, turtles basking in the evening sun, turkey vultures lurking, and the ubiquitous Great Blue Heron.
My spiritual experience of sailing during Lent during my Jesus year birthday of 33 and all the important lessons and experience I have been lucky to have as a result.
Although I am a member of the Vestry of Saint James’ and its currently both the most exciting time and my favorite time on the Church calendar, Lent, I responded to the call of my best friend Mark when he asked me to come to Mexico to help him complete his sail from Charleston, SC, to Los Angeles, CA. I joined the sail on March 1, spent my birthday on the boat, and find myself stuck in Cabo San Lucas over a month later. What I have realized is that sailing allows one to better understand the nature of God‘s grace in my life. Little did I know that it would be as much help to me as it has been to him.
I have been following Mark’s journey from his former home in Charleston and living vicariously. We have been best friends since we met at University during my first year at GWU. We were both on the crew team and have been best friends ever since — more like brothers than mere college chums. I have never sailed with Mark, even though he lives and works from the deck and cabin of a gorgeous yacht catamaran named Kinship II. I have never been much of a sailor and so much of my sailing enjoyment has been vicarious. It just never interested me and Mark never really pressed the issue.
A little over a month ago, Mark called me and told me that the crew of six he started with in South Carolina had started abandoning the vessel beginning at the first stop after a grueling trek from the Keys all the way to Central America, through the Panama Canal, and back up the Pacific coast of Mexico. The faithful remnant left in Acapulco because their money had run out and the time schedule had slipped and slipped and slipped, as sailing schedules are wont to do.
So, when Mark suggested that he would pay for me to fly to Acapulco to join the crew – him – I took this as one of those veiled manly calls for help which never really show either fear or desperation. When you spend time with men’s men, you have to read between the lines. I was in Acapulco within five days. I might have hurt a relation with a client and leaned on my lovely friend Sarah a little too much, to say nothing of the strain on my new and wondrous relationship with Wendy, but it was Mark! The brother I never had.
We burnt two weeks moored off of the Club de Yates de Acapulco as most of the beatings that Kinship II had suffered on the long passage through the Gulf, along Central America, through the Panama Canal, and up along the Pacific coast were being healed by our angel, Gabriel, who took the time and the pride to get us up to ship shape.
I have been officially sailing the Pacific sea since the first day of Lent, 5 March. An equal time has been spent stuck in port and harbor as it has been sailing miles offshore; some of it has been gentle and awe-inspiring while other parts have been punishing and trying. Although I have not officially given up anything for Lent save my job, I have been able to use the time to become more essential.
Things have been very difficult for me over the last year or so, at least since 9-11, but including the technology crash. Technology and the internet is the basket I had been placing all of my eggs and I had been compensated very well for it. During the last six months, I have be grasping at straws, asking myself what I want to do with the rest of my life. Become a lawyer? Go to business school? Pursue a PhD?
I was stuck in a myopic infinite loop. My priorities, my goals, my desires, and my true wants and needs were befuddled and unclear. Sadly, I have unintentionally hurt people as they were caught in my personal panic as I desperately searched for my equilibrium while not giving myself either the time or the slack with which to find it.
On 8 March, in addition to everything else, I became 33, which to everyone I have spoken to at Saint James´ and elsewhere is my “Jesus year.” The age Jesus the Christ died for our sins, allegedly. Lord knows this was renting space in my mind as the date approached. Lord knows that there was no way I could even remotely find the time or the money to be able to take this time to both help my friend and save myself. But there it was, and I am still sailing with a lot of help from my friends.
Sailing takes time, and it takes its own time which has nothing to do with either my desire or the requirements of society. The moment one becomes willful enough to disrespect the nature of the sea is the day something breaks. Its as simple as that and is kind of spooky at first. Easy as she goes. Cliché sentiment seem to reverberate on the sea. The 96-hour passages blur one into the other into one long day, and when the limits of my tolerance were reached I was rewarded with a pod of a hundred dolphins dancing in and out of my wake. Or a field of basking green sea turtles in the middle of the sea. Or a dense morning fog clearing to a double rainbow.
God can be very remedial in his lessons when you are sailing. He also protects fools and drunks and I am most certainly a fool at the very least. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction and Karma is direct, reciprocity is king on the sea. When I am tempted to be willful and push myself past either my abilities or my energy, I always either hurt myself or break something onboard. This is not a joke. It seems gentle — the sea always does — but it is life or death.
The lesson I have learned thus far is that there is a definite rhythm I have been blind to, within which everything works beautifully.
As a striking example, last week we were on route from Manzanillo to Cabo San Lucas and it was to be a milk run. Easily enough diesel to motor from where we were anchored at the Las Hadas Resort to where we were to moor in Cabo San Lucas. First impossibility: we ran out of diesel prematurely because the engine was detuned and was drinking the fuel quickly. So we ran out with just enough to bring us in to port when we finally made it to port, which was still 150 miles away. That’s okay, we have a sailing catamaran. We sail easily in 5 knot winds. During the second day, the main sail halyard snaps at the block, at the top of the mast. That’s okay, we have a redundant halyard — which snaps four hours later! We string up the Genoa line and limp the rest of the way. Impossible, but normal I guess.
Things like this happen a lot. When we arrived at Cabo San Lucas, we could not find anyone who would climb the mast, until we ran into Sebastian and his family, from Vancouver, BC. He shimmied up the mast for free and we were back on schedule. We ran into many people like Seb along the way and the Cruiser community around the world is amazing generous.
Sartre was wrong, hell is not other people: grace is other people.
Every day of this trip has humbled me; every day has given me confidence. Not once have I felt humiliation and every day has been a celebration. The confidence not to fear what will happen next, to remain present and observant, to remain vigilant but not aggressive. And I have been thriving and I am strong and worthy of supporting Captain Mark as his only crew and of protecting the delicate fiberglass exoskeleton Kinship II so that she is seaworthy and makes her voyage to Los Angeles on one pristine piece.
On the sea, nothing needs to be forced, nothing needs to be rushed; in fact, there are very few things that can be rushed. I have had to turn on the hourly chime on my wristwatch because I have experienced a couple of these 96-hour days. Time shrinks and expands. Being on watch exacerbates this experience. Time is relative in a practical sense as it can stretch or compress, and some nights I have been on a watch for what feels like an hour starting at 0100 and then the sky lightens and turns pink and the morning comes. Other times, I fight for wakefulness and after making a go of trying, I wake Mark and ask him to take the watch instead so that I can catch some sleep for a little while. This is too much to risk, too much to lose, if I were to try any harder and fall deep into an exhausted sleep leaving no one at all to keep an eye out for cruise ships or super liners.
What’s on the line is the safety of the boat — a quarter-million-dollar investment – and the safety of the crew. There is only one person, usually sleepy and bored, who takes watch and single-handedly keeps the fragile and absurdly delicate vessel going 8 knots out of the way of container ships moving at 25 knots. There is a feeling of trust, the kind of confidence-building experience that can easily undo damage done in the workaday world of corporate America, can rebuild the confidence and self-love that might have blossomed in simpler times. I know they did for me. On the sea, either alone or with a crew, one can renew one’s faith in oneself and others.
Post Enron, dot-com, 9-11, and Clinton, my world changed in significant ways. I am a pretty technologically-savvy fellow and when I graduated from GW in 1993, during a low point in employment and jobs, I became an internet and web developer in addition to photography and writing. Although a student of literature at University, I didn’t choose graduate school right away but instead became part of the great excitement of the dot-com explosion. I have been using the internet since a bet version of Mosaic; since I played with MacWeb, when I noodled with lynx. I am pre-internet and as a teen I was part of the BBS culture. It was natural for me to join the excitement and during the 90s I didn’t explore graduate school or law school, but rather put all my eggs into the internet economy. And I was rewarded for a time.
Recently, times have become tough and I have lost much of my confidence in my choices, what I have to offer, and in myself. Luckily, I have never lost my Faith.
While on Kinship II, Mark and I went over my life because I needed distance and clarity. I was able to note the five things that are most important to be in my life, and I am proud to say that I have four out of five of them in spades: A partner, my family, my friends, my spiritual life, and money.
I am told that there are so many rich Americans who suffer from a true lack in their lives. So many Americans who might have money and a partner, but lack friends, family, and spirit. Or have money and nothing else. I am reminded every day that in a conscious, present, spiritual life, money is the easiest to secure for many of us as it is the most valued. Surely, it can feel that way. There are days when I lose sight of all the things in my life for which I am amazingly grateful and focus on only the things I lack, in this case money. And then it is often a downward spiral, where lack begets lack and before I knew it, I find myself feeling not only like a loser but like the worse kind: the fellow who failed to live up to his potential. In these times, I lose sight that I have had money before and that I will have money again. Its easy when one lives in a small world — or a world, shrunk — to find oneself skewed: both in perspective and proportion.
But on the sea, its different. As a geek, I liken it to rebooting my desktop computer. Rebooting the PC is the secret we techies have for fixing most of the problems wrong with most desktop PCs. Most of the time, these slowdowns occur because there are too many things going on on the PC that the user is no longer aware of: memory leaks, infinite loops, crashed software. These things cannot fix themselves and most users cannot truly sense this chaos in any way short of system slowdown. Not all problems result in the blue screen of death, some just send the computer into a morass. A skilled technician can fix some of the problems from the keyboard or by using a piece of software as an elixir, but the simplest thing one can do to set everything right is to turn the machine off, wait a minute and then turn it back on. Reboot.
So as I sit in an internet cafe in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico, wondering if I am spending Lent the way I should. Mexico is a traditionally catholic country, truly religious. I have not given up coffee, chocolate, or even beer; I am not attending church and I am three thousand miles away from my pew in my parish, Saint James’ Episcopal Church, Capitol Hill.
Yes, I am spending Lent better than I could have ever imagined, in my opinion. For all the fears, stresses, and anxieties I have been suffering under, I have had my head truly buzzing so that I couldn’t hear myself think clearly, to say nothing of the soft voice of my Faith.
On the boat, I have had time to think. At first, way too much time! I felt guilt and boredom; I felt like I needed to do something, needed to get back to the office to make sure everything was all right. After two weeks — yes, I buzzed for a fortnight — I started to relax. I felt my heart, my face, by body, and then my mind become more tranquil. On the boat, I have been getting a good lesson in Faith, in trust, and in moving with the flow as opposed to opposing it, striking against it. To force it makes it break; to avoid it doesn’t make it go away; to fear it doesn’t help. Whatever it is. To be completely honest, I have not felt so good about myself and what I have to offer in ten years. I feel like a tiger!
So I have done the most irresponsible thing imaginable in dropping everything and flying three thousand miles to help a friend by replacing his crew and becoming a sailor for what will be over six weeks. It would never have happened had the request come in any other form than what I perceived as a mayday, an SOS. But it did and I am here and I am changed. Does this mean that I will be doing this irresponsible thing again and again? Will I need to do this again in the same way, taking an unscheduled, selfish, and fool hardy escape again? Probably not I have learned so many things and the next time I become overwhelmed or lose faith in myself or my life experience and am myopic and suffused with fear, all I need to do is remember; or, be reminded. Quite possibly this very writing will be enough; if not, then Mark, my friends, my parish family, or you.
Instead of being changed into a bum, a drop out, or a vagabond, am becoming more clear that I want the life I have, that I can handle the life choices I make, that I make fine life choices. I have had an amazing growing up, brilliant parents, a world-class education, and have many friends, and a fine girlfriend. When I make a life choice there is a good chance that my decision is a result of a very fine coming up and I should not worry too much. My choices will probably — based on a thirty-three year track record — be moral and kind.
I have been spending the last three years attending Saint James’ Holy Week religiously. Saint James’ offers one of the most spiritually rich Holy Week and Easter I could ever have imagined. From Maundy Thursday through Easter Eve, the Spirit is palpable and the presence of God is undeniable; similarly, I have a profound personal and spiritual experience while sailing. As arcane and transcendent and as undeniable as what I experienced in Church. To be sure, I am grateful to have had spent a truly blessed experience.
The next time I wish someone Godspeed, in my mind and heart that will forever be between 2.9 and 8 knots.