Occupation: Circumnavigator; How to Finance a Lifestyle

Occupation: Circumnavigator
How to Finance a Lifestyle
By Lars Hässler
Published by the author

Available on www.OccupationCircumnavigator.com

$US24 plus $US10 postage and packing

This is an extraordinary book by an extraordinary person. Lars Hässler is a Swedish lawyer who gave up his well-paid job as an international trader, turned his back on the stress and hassle of the corporate world, and set off on a ten-year 100,000-mile voyage on his Beneteau Oceanis 50 Jennifer. The subtitle of his book is rather misleading as the author does indeed describe in much detail how he managed to finance such a long voyage mostly by taking on paying guests, but the real essence of the book is a vivid description of a never dull life, full of adventures and the occasional mishap, that took Lars and his faithful (if occasionally capricious) Jennifer on a roundabout route along which he did everything possible never to sail the shortest distance between two points. The result were some lengthy detours such as a side trip to the Marshall Islands and the site of the US atomic tests, to some rarely visited atolls in Micronesia, a foray up the Saigon river as the first-ever sailing yacht to visit Vietnam after the war, a stop in the rarely visited Andaman Islands, and, for good measure, a long detour up the Amazon river. Where this book differs from other sailing memoirs is in the author’s outspokenness on such subjects as local politicians’ corruption, the lingering effects of French colonialism, the lasting legacy of the American nuclear tests at Bikini and elsewhere and some of the downsides of foreign aid.

Anyone planning to follow the author’s example will find a lot of useful tips on how to earn a living while cruising, and also some candid comments on some of the disadvantages of sailing with paying guests on board, something that looks like an attractive solution until you experience it yourself. The last part of the book describes in detail the practical aspects of the voyage and gives an insight into the many breakages suffered, and the costs involved. There are also valuable lessons to be learned from the author’s misadventures, such as a fatal diving accident involving one of his guests, the loss of his rudder and how he managed to reach port, being electrocuted and miraculously surviving when his mast struck a high voltage cable in Kenya and being hit by a violent storm in the Mozambique Channel.

This is the kind of book which any sailor will greatly enjoy reading, but some will then put it down and perhaps think to themselves: what a great job this guy has done by going to all that trouble so that I can read about those adventures in the comfort of my home and not have to put up with freak waves, demanding officials, 3000 Volt strikes, cantankerous charter guests and man-eating hammerhead sharks. Thank you, Lars!

Posted January 2008

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