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November 29, 2011
Life is a Cruise BOOK REVIEW: Life is a Cruise by Lawrence Rick
By Jeff Merrill
Life is a Cruise. Stop and think about that one for a minute. You may be at
your desk at the moment or reading this from your smart phone, but the thought
of being out on your own boat enjoying the Nordhavn lifestyle is always in the
back of your mind. It’s a great title for a book because life really is a cruise and should be lived as such,
and it’s the premise of this series of reflections comprised by Lawrence Rick. The
book is Rick’s way of enticing the reader out of a life spent on cruise control,
which, let’s face it – between jobs, family and schedules to keep –
is pretty much the way most of us are living. At one point, Rick, too was a
Nordhavn Dreamer although long before the cult web community of nearly 1300
members was established. And perhaps as a nod to all of those fantasists he
left behind after purchasing his Nordhavn 40 in 2002, he gave his boat the
appropriate moniker: Done Dreamin’. And
thus, reading “Life Is A Cruise” gives you a glimpse of exactly what life is
like when you’re done dreaming.
I’ve known Larry for many years and remember when he took delivery of Done Dreamin’, a smart and well studied
guy with some solid boating background, but new to the Nordhavn brand of
adventure. What I didn’t know was that Larry had been emailing his friends
updates each week about his various exploits, adventures and the sorts of
things that become commonplace while cruising emailing – all of which
make up the contents of this very enjoyable book.
The Nordhavn 40 is a special long range cruiser. She’s our entry level full
displacement passage maker – in fact, we set a world record back in 2001 for
the smallest production power boat to circumnavigate the globe as a result of
our Around The World (ATW) trip. (Ed. note: The ATW 40 will
be on display at Nordhavn’s Southeast Open House. Click here for details).
Stories of long distance and coastal explorations by Nordhavns always
intrigue me and I’m particularly impressed by those adventurers who have
selected the Nordhavn 40 to take on the oceans of the world.
Larry Rick has compiled an easy to read book cataloging his excursions
aboard Nordhavn 40 hull #33, Done
Dreamin’. Knowing bits and pieces of Larry’s travels made it all the more
interesting to finally sit down and read just exactly what he accomplished.
The stories shared in this nearly 300 page long book are a fun way to live the
life and learn from someone who has been there and done that.
If you intend to go out cruising on a trawler, this is a great resource to
help you better understand what it takes and what is involved.
At a very early age Larry’s family took a long trip on a cruise ship. The
experience inspired Larry to one day be the captain of his own ship. After a
multi-decade career in the airline industry as a pilot, Larry finally realized
his ultimate goal when he bought his new Nordhavn 40.
His already rich life of travel became even more fulfilling as he learned
the systems of his Nordhavn 40 and he takes the reader through his practical
learning approach, starting with a cruise up to Alaska and then breaking free
to cross the Pacific. Through emailed updates, he keeps in touch with his grown
children and later has them on board for visits in various destinations.
As for the reader, the invitation for adventure comes right at the outset
within the words of the tome’s introduction: “This book is a chronicle of my lifelong
dream becoming reality. Join me in the search for that cerulean – a blue
that can only be found far at sea.”
“Life is a Cruise” is a great collection of reflections written during those
periods when Larry found time to summarize what has happened during the week.
Each entry is called the NOW, or News Of the Week, and in addition to seeing
wonderful places and meeting fascinating people, there are stories of
beautiful sunsets and broken parts – all components of the reality of
traveling by sea. The sign off of each entry is “Life is a Cruise.”
There are many great observations and I don’t want to spoil your read, but
would like to point out a couple. Early on Larry encounters a megayacht in
Mexico that is captained with a chef and crew for a pair of older couples who
are being waited on hand and foot. “Life may be a cruise, but, come on, that’s
putting life on automatic pilot. Where is the fun when you let someone else do
everything for you?” Good point Larry!
I’m fascinated with the South Pacific and find two entry paragraphs that I’d
like to reprint here:
From #55 NOW – May 31, 2005 in Tahiti.
“Today I continued to work my way around the southern tip of the island.
Much to my surprise, I have only seen one other cruising boat. I guess everyone
just stays up in Papeete and enjoys city life. They are missing the best part.
Right now, I am anchored in a peaceful lagoon with towering peaks jutting out
of the sea. They are covered with lush green vegetation and cascading
waterfalls. On the shore are coral and sandy beaches with coconut palms
reaching out to seas as far as they can. Paradise is really neat.”
And this paragraph from Tahiti written a couple of weeks later on June 17,
“One thing that has been very apparent is the lack of motor cruising
vessels. Done Dreamin’ creates quite
a stir when I pull into a marina or anchorage. I’ve had more than one person
ask if I cruised over here from the United States. I feel like saying no, I
flew it over, or some other dumb answer to the dumb question. I guess
long-range cruising in 40-foot motor vessels is still in its infancy. When
people see all the comforts we have, they go away shaking their heads, deep in
thought about their next boat.”
As you turn each page you can’t help but learn more about everyday life at
sea and what to expect when you arrive in a new port. Larry’s very human side
of enjoyment and pursuit of cravings (searching for Hokey Pokey ice cream when
he lands in civilized areas becomes downright obsessive) and the simple
pleasures of fresh bread (especially made aboard), the wonders of satellite
radio and other things we all probably take for granted are much more
appreciated when you are operating your own transportation in your own world.
The importance of email and satellite telephones for keeping in touch with
those back home is reinforced throughout the book. Larry opens himself up to
the humanity in all of us, especially those fortunate enough to be able to
break loose and “sea” the world.
Boats require continuous attention, and getting back home on occasion to see
the family is a huge treat. When it is time to return back to the boat you have
to pack accordingly, especially when you are lying in Australia for example: “While
back in the US, I accumulated two large duffle bags of parts and supplies for
the boat. It was time to get airborne and wing my way back across the Pacific.
What took me nine months to do on the seas passed below me in just 13.5
Larry’s previous boating and aircraft experience allowed him to enjoy one of
his favorite activities almost non-stop: navigation. There are some keen
observations sprinkled through the book that will provide a good foundation of
things to think about for those who will also travel by sea.
There are good details on waypoints and fuel burn, average speeds, etc.,
that will help you plan for a similar trip (though don’t expect to duplicate
Larry’s diesel fuel prices!). Larry has also included some nice summary chapters
at the end going into more detail his observations of significant
I’m sure you will enjoy Larry’s warm writing style and hope that by reading “Life
is a Cruise” you will find yourself another step closer to writing the chapters
for your own cruising escapades.
For more details you can go to Lulu.com and order your own copy. In need of
a great gift idea for the boater, dreamer or adventure enthusiast in your life?
Pick up a copy of “Life
Is A Cruise” and while you’re at lulu.com, check out N43 owner Christi
Grab’s just released second book “The
Unexpected Journey – Part 2”.