The following is a conversation I had with the owner and “resident” of a sailboat. I met him when I booked an Airbnb experience, which was a private boat tour around isolated beaches in Paraty, Rio de Janeiro. The tour also included a kayaking and snorkeling experience as well.
– Your sailboat is so cool, how long have you been sailing?
– I wasn’t always a sailor, I learned to sail on Youtube, watching tutorials. I’m still learning, I’m by no means an experienced sailor, I don’t have anything to teach haha.
His frankness was so refreshing! There he was talking to a client (whom you would normally try to impress in order to get a good Airbnb review) and explaining how he hadn’t been a sailor for long and how he learned the few sailing skills he had from Youtube. As a client, I was a little scared that he might not know what to do in a storm in the middle of nowhere. As a teacher, I was in awe, my admiration for his self-learning skills motivated me do this mini interview.
– Wow! That’s impressive! So where do you live?
– Here in Paraty?
– Here on this boat.
And to prove it he gave me a tour of his home.
– I’ve never met someone who lives on a boat before, how interesting! Is there a tax associated to living on a boat?
– You pay to dock, but you don’t ever have to dock.
– (You have my attention now! I’ve always admired people who know how to beat the system.) What do you eat?
– I fish for food.
– Sounds like you won’t be running out of food anytime soon! What did you use to do before you decided to become a sailor and live on this boat?
– I haven’t been a sailor for long… I used to be a jockey, my dad wanted me to ride horses but that wasn’t my true calling. I worked from 11 to 42 years old and I don’t miss it, I never had days off, I would always work on holidays.
– Who gave you the idea of offering Airbnb experiences?
– I got the idea from the guys who are doing the same thing. At first I didn’t think of it as a business, though, my goal was just to live the cheapest way possible, rent-free, tax-free, not spending a lot on money on food.
– Do you get many clients?
– Enough haha. If I work for 6 or 7 days in a row, I block my calendar and take a break. The truth is I don’t want more clients because I don’t want to work more. My girlfriend wants to work a lot but I don’t.
– What do you mean, does she want this business to grow?
– She does, she’s always suggesting marketing ideas and ways to get bigger and better but I’ve told her “You make your plans but don’t include me in them”, hahaha.
– You mentioned earlier you had a son, does he have a regular life?
– Yes, he does, at least for now. He lives in Sao Paulo with his mom, too bad he doesn’t love the sun like I do.
– Do you ever feel lonely?
– Not really, I have a girlfriend, she lives in Sao Paulo but even when she comes to visit me, she knows I need my space. She takes the kayak, goes snorkeling somewhere while I stay on the boat. We are cool living like that.
– How have you been spending your free time lately?
– I’ve been very busy fixing my boat. I had to fix the engine, install stuff, things like that…
– (Interesting to know the engine wasn’t working well not too long ago!) How do you spend your free time?
– I like doing nothing, you know? I like to take my time to spend on myself, contemplating nature, sleeping… When my friends come and ask me to do stuff with them, more often than not my answer is “I can’t, I’m busy”, they go “but you’re doing nothing”, I say “I need this time to do nothing!”.
It seems that our friend cracked the code to happiness! He lives a happy, stress-free life without the hustle and bustle of the city. What about saving for the future? building a credit history? He aims to live on his boat for good, the doesn’t need to make monthly mortgage payments for 20 years until he owns a place to reside, what about a car? he can get to places by boat or take taxis, which are affordable in Paraty, what about health insurance? healthcare is free in Brazil, this is true, I have first-hand experience as I’ve used healthcare as a tourist in Brazil, cost: 0 reais! (If you want to know more about my experience, look for my blog post I didn’t have health insurance and this happened to me in Brazil.)
This lifestyle is not for everyone but I applaud people who take the plunge and decide to live the best life possible for them. I know people who have all of the above, a big house, a nice car, a well-paid job, good health insurance, etc who aren’t half as happy as this man is.
Wondering what the tour was like? It’s one of the best boat tours I’ve ever taken in my life.
Remember my fears? Well, there WAS a storm! My guide didn’t seem to be too worried about it, though. Fortunately, he knew what to do (thank you YouTube!), we got on the boat and sailed back to safety.
So what did I learn from this experience?
- That it’s never too late to follow your true calling.
- That there are ways of beating the system.
- That you can learn anything from Youtube!
- That there are people in the world who don’t care about money, and they tend to be the most interesting people to chat with!
- That kayaking looks easy and feels easy until the next day when you wake up with sore muscles.
- That Airbnb experiences are cheaper and better than tours booked through agencies.
If you go to Rio de Janeiro, don’t skip Paraty! The boat tours are just one of the many activities you can do there. I’m already looking forward to going back!