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HomeNewsArchivesOn Island Profile: Cap'n Fatty Goodlander

On Island Profile: Cap'n Fatty Goodlander

Cap'n Fatty Goodlander and his wife, Carolyn.Cap’n Fatty Goodlander was just a year and a half when he moved with his family aboard the Elizabeth, a 52-foot schooner built in 1924, and took off to see the world.

"When my father came back from serving in World War II, he was kind of disillusioned with society, so he decided to sail his family toward Tahiti," Goodlander said.

On his website, Goodlander chronicles his father’s own experiences with the sea, shipbuilding since the age of 16, and his urge to get back out there and sail across the horizon. Goodlander described the time aboard the Elizabeth as a "fairy tale," and said that is a lifestyle that he has tried to maintain, using his father’s philosophies, with own wife and daughter.

A journalist for the past 30 years, Goodlander earns his money by editing for Cruise World Magazine, writing books and doing radio shows such as the boating report that ran for 17 years on Radio 1000. He started by sailing the world on a budget of $5,000 a year, has since moved up to $12,000, and credits all the people he has met along the way for his ability to continue maintaining the lifestyle.

"The beauty of this is that I never get to go ashore to work," Goodlander said. "I’m able to make my living without having to work within any part of a corporate structure and I’m actually making more money per year now that at any other part of my life, and I’m having 10 times the fun.

"I grew up with a mindset that the goal of life was to be free," Goodlander said. "Not wealthy or comfortable, or a lot of that other stuff that people aspire to, but for real personal freedom, so I make all the decisions in my life not based on what most people think would be logical, but on what would give me the maximum amount of personal freedom, and sailing offshore really lends itself to that."

And other than three years in grammar school, along with two years in high school, Goodlander has been able to spend the majority of his life — 52 years — continuing to chase that dream over the great blue ocean.

"I did pick up a lot of this from my father, but I’ve carried it to a much greater degree by circumnavigating the world a few times on a very limited budget," Goodlander said.

Goodlander has written about eight books over the years, which he said are mostly about being a sailor and "sea gypsy," which is a term he created to describe himself.

"A sea gypsy – it’s a sailor who isn’t a yachtsman," Goodlander said. "He isn’t well financed, but the sea is his whole life, it’s his passion, recreation, hobby and chief interest. He’s interested in the sea, the history of boats, knot tying, former sailors, and he’s living his life on the ocean waves. So my books are about that. They are part adventure, part how to, part philosophy, but I hope that they are all entertaining.

"I am not trying to be a writer as much as I’m trying to be a ‘prose entertainer.’ And I try to bring the same amount of energy and physical pizzazz to my writing as I would if I were a dancer or a standup comic. That allows me, again, this freedom and it’s actually more lucrative than people think."

Asked to share some of his best stories, Goodlander began by talking about his wife, Carolyn, and how they met (which is also described at length on his website.) Goodlander called her "the key" to his good fortune, and talked about how he was "struck by Cupid" one day when Carolyn came aboard his newly bought boat to sew the curtains.

"When the job was done and she wanted her money, I said, ‘Wait a minute, what about the cockpit cushions, they need sewing, and pretty much everything else needs sewing,’ and that’s what she’s been doing — sewing happiness into my life for the last 42 years."

The two have sailed more than 100,000 ocean miles together, Goodlander added.

"And the only thing other than a wonderful spouse, I think, that you need to have to do this is the ability to stay excited about change," Goodlander said. "People are always so scared of change, but it’s the most constant thing in life. When you wake up in the morning, you’re day is going to be different than it was yesterday, but people want to be driving the same car, they want to be doing the same thing. But I’m a change junkie. I want things to be different."

Now at 60, the only thing Goodlander said he needs to do is keep sailing. While he said he has been headquartered in the territory, out of St. John, since the 1980s, he is hungry to spend more years sailing from there to Madagascar and back for as many years as he can.

"I’m just using different criteria to run my life and that criteria is mostly freedom," Goodlander said. "Most people don’t really have the guts to do that. But I’m doing anything particularly clever or hard, I’m just a guy who loves freedom, and the key for me is to keep doing it. The amazing reality of sailing around the world again and again, knowing that I’m on a very modest boat, with a pretty limited budget, is that I have the help of hundreds of people.

Some make a dollar or two dollars a day, but it always blows my mind how generous they are. They might have a little bowl of rice, but they will still offer you half and again and again, I continue to be astounded at the generosity of people."

Residents have a chance to meet Goodlander when he comes to Dockside Bookshop on Saturday, March 3 from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. for a signing of his latest book, "How to Inexpensively and Safely Buy, Outfit and Sail a Small Vessel Around theWorld."

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