“I don’t consider this tiny living. Your backyard is bigger than Richard Branson’s and Warren Buffett’s combined. This is real big living. You must be prepared for the future, ever watchful in the moment and learn from the past – or this life will eat you up.” – Cap’n Drew
Dreams are like songs. You can write something completely original, straight from the heart, but it’s always going to be filled with inspiration from the thousands of songs you’ve heard before it. As humans, we’re like sponges. We absorb everything around us. The good stuff sticks, and the rest gets wrung out in the sink.
I’ve been sharing our journey of following our dreams, all with the hope that we can inspire others to do the same. In this post, I want to tell the stories of some incredible people who’ve challenged themselves to follow their hearts, and have inspired us.
Big dreams usually require big sacrifices, and years of hard work. By scraping to eliminate our debt and reducing our lives into 200 sf, we get to ultimately put our hearts and souls into our music. Our heroes in this story have made similar sacrifices and more. Their payoff was a life on the open sea.
To tell their story, I want to take you to the land of smiles – Thailand.
My husband and I had the extraordinary opportunity to visit Thailand earlier this year. Always the adventurers, we made a point to plan the trip off the beaten path. We wanted to get a taste for the real Thai people and lifestyle – the beautiful, the heartbreaking, and the incredible. We were lucky to have achieved that throughout Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the Himalayas. Like any good American tourist, we ended the trip in the islands.
After such an incredible journey, we didn’t want to end up in some all-inclusive resort with a pristine manicured experience. The resorts were all gorgeous, no doubt. But once you’re in it, you honestly could be staying anywhere and you wouldn’t know the difference. Furthermore, after spending $30 per night the last few weeks in the mainland, we couldn’t justify (or afford) the elevated price tags of $230 per night.
Also, we wanted to really see the islands. We wanted to experience the majesty of the unexplored. We couldn’t see paying boatloads (sorry.. I had to) of money for four hour excursions to all of the overcrowded popular destinations every other tourist has been to. If only there were a way we could afford accommodations and adventure, together with an experience that was uniquely ours.
The light bulb goes off – we could charter a boat! Kevin had always wanted to learn how to sail, after all, and on a boat we could have everything we wanted out of the islands in one package deal. But how were the broke Collins ever going to afford to charter a boat? Good thing we’re pro at ballin’ on a budget.
We got resourceful, and had the pleasure of meeting Cap’n Drew – the proud owner of a 1984 Vagabond 47 Sailing Yacht named Malnuirie . He happened to have an extra bedroom, and we were in for the challenge of the open sea! We came onboard, and had one of the most incredible experiences of our lives. But this story isn’t about our adventures at sea. This story is about Cap’n Drew, and how he inspired us to follow our dreams.
Cap’n Drew always knew he wanted to live on a boat. When he was 6 years old, he read the book “Scuppers the Sailor Dog” and became enchanted by life aboard a sailing boat. He’s been fascinated by the sea ever since.
“The lure of adventure, freedom, and outrageous stories is one thing – but most of all I wanted to meet people who live with passion and adventure in the heart.” – Cap’n Drew
Not many of us have dreams as children that stick through adulthood, but Drew stayed true to his. He was going to get his boat, and he was going to work through hell or high water until he did.
Like us, Cap’n Drew didn’t come from money. A young boy growing up in Tasmania, he worked for everything he had in life. When he grew up, he became a commercial scuba diver. I’m not talking about the ones who get to go to exotic places and take amazing videos of gorgeous fish and coral reefs. I’m talking about the guys who work tirelessly to build bridges and oil rigs to get humans from point A to point B.
Commercial diving was really fun for Drew. He loved the adventure. It was challenging, demanding, well paid work. This was just one of the ways Drew went outside of the box in his life, trying all the new things – even the impossible things.
“I thought underwater welding was impossible when I first heard of it. Nope. Possible.” – Cap’n Drew
This was hard work though, and the long hours would take a serious toll on Drew’s body. It wasn’t something he could do forever, but he didn’t intend to. Drew was going to work his butt off for as many years as it took to buy an old vessel and fix it up. Then he’d save enough bounty to where he could sail it off into the open sea.
This took a really long time, and it required a lot of sacrifices, but Drew was determined to get there, and he did. He looked for the right boat for 4 years. His goal was to buy the boat and live on her by the age of 32. He bought Malmuirie when he was 33. Pretty close.
“You sacrifice the years with your family and friends, you never get them back. Everything else is material and means very little, in fact everything else is what I wanted to get away from.” – Cap’n Drew
Now, Drew answers to no one and spends his time exploring the most beautiful corners of the world on his own yacht. He still has his scuba gear, but these days he uses it to check out what beauty lies beneath the surface.
Sailing and taking care of a boat full-time is really hard work in of itself, but it’s easier when you have a deck hand to help steer the ship, so to speak. Introducing another incredibly inspiring person who followed her dreams, Cap’n Drew’s skipper, Kat.
The lovely Kat came into Drew’s life when she, on a trip to Thailand from Sweden, went on a similar adventure on Drew’s boat. She was with another guy at the time, but she never forgot the magic of the sea. When that relationship ended, Kat found herself – a single mother and grandmother, who had worked full-time and taken care of everyone else her entire life – not knowing where to turn. So, she thought to look up that handsome younger Cap’n from her adventures in Thailand.
“Do you still have that boat,” she asked. The answer was “yes.” Kat came back to sail with Drew, and the two fell in love. To say the rest is history is too easy. Kat had a lot of big decisions to make. She had her home and her career back in Sweden. Not only that, but she had her children and grandchildren, who she was very close with. Kat had a decision to make – to follow her dream, or to maintain the status quo and be available for her family. It was a tough choice, but with the support and encouragement of her daughters, she left her old life behind and joined Cap’n Drew on his vessel.
“The thing I love the most about this point in life is my partner, Kat. First Mate! Second is the boat and all the opportunities she affords us. The people we meet and the adventure is thirdly, but the freedom is lost as soon as you buy your boat. You are hers as much as she is yours.” – Cap’n Drew
Because Drew and Kat each had the courage to follow their dreams, they are now living their best lives together. They weather the storms together (literally), live simply, and make a little extra money here and there as they travel the world doing what they do best – treating others to the magic of sailing the sea.
We had an incredible time island hopping with Drew and Kat aboard their boat. It was by far the best part of our trip, and one of the best experiences of our lives.
Please stay tuned for more stories of the numerous incredible people, who’ve inspired Kevin and I to change the course of our journey and follow our dreams.“You have to look into yourself for freedom, balance and happiness. Disregard or disengage the things that are empty and meaningless and focus on plowing into what is worthwhile and good for yourself and others. You don’t need much to be happy.” – Cap’n Drew