My name is John Fitzgerald, I live in Ontario, Canada, and have all my life. I currently work for a major auto manufacturer, and expect to retire in a few years, well less than 3 years.
I have been inspired by a former co-worker who worked as a supervisor / engineer, here at the company. He was building a 45ish foot sailboat out of aluminum. At a point near completion of the project just near to the 2007 / 2008 recession he was offered a retirement package Of which he accepted and finished his sailboat and with 4 friends, some family he sailed his creation to Australia. Check out sv/falcon GT.
He posted daily, on the web, or very close to it which allowed us here at the plant to follow his adventure. This was of interest to me, adventure, seeing new countries, people and cultures. These things piqued my interest, and I started looking into what I needed to do to make my new dream come true.
I found the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron (CPSS) and started to sign up for all the courses I could find. I travelled from Stratford to Burlington, Hamilton, Cambridge, Mississauga, Oakville, Guelph, and anywhere I could find the course, including online. I did this for a number of reasons, first to expand my knowledge, but also to keep me excited about my dream.
While doing that I talked with people who actually did sail, like people I work with Gerry, Kenny, and of course John. Another source was the Toronto boat show, where I found myself trying to squeeze in as many free seminars as possible in a day, and using that to base what day would work best to get the most seminars in. I was in search for as much information as I could by the people who have done what I want to do. Moreover, it kept me excited about my dream as well as gave me insight into what I will have to expect, overcome and adapt to.
That was almost 10 years ago. So where am I now? Am I any further ahead? Well with the support of my wife, I purchased a boat, a Whitby 42, as a matter of a fact the last one built in Ontario. I used Mahina.com as a bench mark. John and Amanda Neal, give what seems to me a solid advice in seminars, as well as on their website. Thanks John and Amanda Neal!
Some ask what drove me to the Whitby. Well this topic just starts debate. What I come to understand is that boats are all about compromise. So for me, my compromise was that I could have maybe got better speed with a different Keel, or a lighter boat. However, I was happy with the stability, layout and toughness of the Whitby 42, and for me it is a well-built Canadian boat, and I like it.
Over the last 10 years I have been watching YouTube, and subscribing to many different sailing channels. Not just to see the beautiful spots that they go to, and the fun they have, but more importantly to help shape my philosophy of what I am going to be undertaking in the upcoming years. I particularly like the videos, of where things go to hell in a handbasket. Not that I want to see people in difficulty, but how they use creativity, out of the box thinking to make the repair or remedy the situation. This had helped me come up with what I will call philosophy number 1. That is, “the answer must be on the boat”, and you have to find it. Preparation is a vital component to this notion.
The second insight that I get from some of the You Tube channels is to help where you can. I see many sailors on You Tube, bring school books, help isolated communities, this is also part of my plan when I travel. I have some skills as a tradesperson that I have in the past to help in New Orleans during the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Katrina Relief project. That was to help people in the Lower 9th Ward. I would like to do that where I can.
Another observation is that; people are generally friendly and will usually greet you in kind. So being friendly, courteous, and respectful will bring you a long way. I remember watching ‘Bob Bitchen’ talking about not venturing out due to fear, and about letting your fear or fear generated from others control you. My youngest daughter has a tattoo that is a quote from Mark Twain, “Sail away from safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Which is actually the second philosophy of the philosophy of Mizz Fitz, (yes stolen with pride). That is not to say that I will be going blindly by any stretch. But rather I will control what I can, I will do my homework, and manage all risks to an acceptable level. There are many YouTube channels that show this for example: SV Delos prior to going to Brazil; Sailing Catalpa finding kind people in Indonesia; Sailing Nandji and Sailing Adrift, by giving school supplies to outlying communities.
The problem I found is that people love looking for problems, it seems counter intuitive to living a happy life. Some people, when they find out what I want to do; try to find reasons why I cannot do it. For example in the early stages of my boat search, someone once said, “enjoy the search for your boat”, which I did for a number of years. Even during that time I had a few people that tried to steal my dream, by applying negative energy to my dream; similar to a wet blanket on a candle. Usually it starts out innocent enough, what about pirates? Weather? Repairs? Family? Although there has been some negativity, the vast majority of feedback has been very very positive! Including the negative and positive comments have increased my resolve to achieve my goals and dreams. Philosophy #3: Don’t let anyone steal your dream
To wrap up this topic, I won’t be walking down the proverbial dark alley, however, I going to explore!
So where am I now? I purchased a Whitby 42 and have had ownership for a year now. I have learned a lot from her and expect there are more lessons to come from her. However, I have good friends and family that will be there to help me if called upon. For some of our sailing adventures please see the blog post on this website as well as Youtube, Instagram, and FaceBook.
By the way my philosophy list is a living list and will be constantly growing as I progress through the completion of my dream.
I hope you enjoy the website, as well as all the other social media, and I would appreciate your support by “liking” commenting and any suggestions that you think will help.
Thanks to my wife, family and friends for the positive support!
SV/ Mizz Fitz