Do you dream about quitting your job and traveling around the world? How can you make your dream a reality?
Larry Jacobson did just that, and his motivation was his search for happiness. Like so many under stress, Larry said, “my job was slowly killing me. I subscribe to the philosophy that our purpose in life is to be happy.”
So in 1998, Larry Jacobson, author of The Boy Behind the Gate, sold his business, and three years later sailed west on his 50 foot sailboat, making his dreams come true.
After reading about Larry in the OC Register’s article, “Sailor survived ‘Pirate Alley,’ worried mom,” I knew I had to interview him, and find out more about his Gutsy side: the one that resulted in a six-year-adventure, sailing around the world. I especially wanted to find out how he had changed after such a long adventure.
This interview explores the background that led up to Larry selling his company in 1998, and purchasing his boat in March 2001, which he worked on, until he and his partner and a few crew members sailed off from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on December 7th, 2001.
How were you able to finance such a trip?
“By selling my travel incentive business.” This enabled Larry to finance his trip for two years. After he ran out of money, he decided to sell his house and continue his six-year adventure.
How many countries did you visit?
“We visited 40 countries.” They decided to sail west to the South Pacific, and their journey was spontaneous. They stayed in Auckland, New Zealand for 9 months and Australia for 8 months, as well as Thailand for 3 months and Turkey for almost a year; so the trip was about “getting to see the world and live it,” Larry said.
Which island was the most beautiful?
“The French have all the good stuff. French Polynesia, is the most beautiful. Tahiti, Bora Bora, Tuamotus Islands, Moorea, the Marquesas islands, these are all French,” Larry said, with a huge smile as he seemed to be reliving their natural beauty.
The best scuba diving?
The Tuamotus islands in French Polynesia, coral islands with no dirt on the island, so there is no run-off and about 120 feet of visibility. There were other places too, which you’ll discover in his book.
How long into the trip before you acquired the skills to overcome, “seamanship, personal strength and perseverance?”
Larry said that he struggled for the first year, and that it’s not the fun and dreamy vacation that we may think. “It’s a lot of hard work. Things break down constantly, and we had to learn along the way,” he said.
What was the first thing you noticed when you returned to San Francisco after six years of traveling?
“That nothing had really changed, except me. I didn’t see things the same way, I didn’t see money the same way, I didn’t see food, cars and people the same way. I had a new appreciation for what I felt was important in life, and it’s not sold in retail stores; it’s love and friendship.” Larry said he’s still struggling to fit in, despite it being four years since he’s been back in the U.S. His conclusion is that he’s changed permanently and he’ll never fit back in. “I think I’m a better person for it, I treat others better for it, I have a sense of community and camaraderie with friends and family that I probably didn’t have before.”
So what are some of the important lessons that you learned from escaping the rat race?
“That the rat race is not the only race going on, and you don’t have to take part in it.”
How do you stop yourself from getting caught up in it again, especially when you have to make money?
“Well, it’s tough. Not long ago I found myself yelling at someone in traffic at another driver, and I’m not supposed to do that, because that’s what I learned not to do. That it’s not important, that it’s OK, you can take your time, you don’ have to go so fast. As far as money, I’m counting on my book and I am a professional speaker. That’s going to be my next career, my next living.”
What do you tell someone who says, I’d like to do something like you did, but I can’t afford it?”
“The most important thing is to re-prioritize, because you can afford to do something. Anyone can afford to do something. It doesn’t have to be to sail around the world, that’s a pretty big thing.You can sail to Catalina island (an island off the California coast.) So re- prioritize. Save enough money to rent a boat and sail to Catalina and back. You’ll have a week-long adventure that will be unbelievable. You’ll be talking about it for years.” Larry said he put money away for years to fulfill his dream. He planned ahead. He called it his sailing fund. “If you really want to sail, don’t go skiing, save your money. Don’t buy a 50″ TV, by a 40″ TV.”
Larry’s enthusiasm was contagious.”You have to really want this, and I was unstoppable,” he said.
“People will always say, you can’t do this. You don’t have the money, the knowledge, or some other excuse, but if you really want this, you’ll make it happen.”
I want to thank Larry for his wonderful words of wisdom. and for all of us with dreams, no matter how big or how small, let’s remember to become unstoppable.
If you have any questions for Larry, please ask in the comment section and he’ll be happy to answer them.