Video from our September 2013 clnic in San Francisco
Between 2006-08, the first two years after being medically retired from the Marines, I was at both a cross roads and a breaking point in my life. Unfulfilled and without direction in my daily life, I sold motorcycles for a living, struggled to not flunk out of college, endured multiple failed relationships and began taking serious risks with my life via fast motorcycles, drugs and irresponsbile behavior. I was well on my way to becoming a statistic.
And then I found sailing. From the moment that I began sailing, I found a purpose in life and a direction forward. Six years and more than 40,000 miles later, i've sailed Transpacs, Singlehanded Transpacs, a Sydney- Hobart, Mexico races, dozens of deliveries and have found a career as a sailing journalist, sailing writer and professional delivery and racing sailor. I'm stoked.
In addition to my own personal sailing endeavors, I have found great fulfillment and achieved incredible growth through working with wounded veterans and teaching them to sail. In 2012, my close friend Walter Kotecki and I created a sailing clinic in San Francisco working alongside the wounded-veteran non-profit Hope for the Warriors, who sponsored me in both the 2010 and 2012 Singlehanded Transpacs.
Between 2012-13, we conducted four sailing clinics working with some two dozen veterans from around the country. During these clnics, we met and bonded with some amazing souls including Doc King and Daniel Egbert, who have recently co-founded a wounded-veteran non-profit, Medicinal Missions. Walt and I have teamed up with them and will again begin hosting sailing clinics with Medicinal Missions beginning in October 2014 in San Francisco.
While the clinics have a sailing focus, they are in fact life experience clinics. Combining sailing, surfing, yoga, nature hikes, art, music, cameraderie and a wide range of other experiences, these clinics have become a powerful tool to serve veterans returning home. Showing these heroes that life is wide open to them and that they can achieve anything that they desire, we empower these men and women to confidently re-enter society proud of their service and ready to lead enriching and fulfilling lives, post-injury. Sailing is a sport that does not care if you have arms, legs, able-vision or PTSD. It is a sport whose therapeutic benefit is as expansive as the oceans that we will cross together.
This program has been a collaborative effort between myself, my friend and Army vet Walter Kotecki and fatherly figure/ Vietnam vet Don Gray. In addition to thanking Hope for the Warriors and BAADS for their support, I would like to thank several other parties. Our largest supporters have been the St. Francis Commander of the Order of St. John, Knights Hospitallir and the Cromar Charitable Foundation. A million thanks to Drew Harper and Garrett Greenhalgh of Spinnaker Sailing in San Francisco, Nicole Cronin and Lela Burrows of "The Pad" yoga studios, Jered Nelson and "Jered's Pottery", the members of "the Horrible String Band", Steissy Nissen and all of the wonderful volunteers, supporters and fellow veterans that have allowed this program to grow.