Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

In Defense of Reid Stowe

I'm not a loopy person, I don't believe in the supernatural, and I have a healthy annoyance of hippies, but I appreciate a half-insane guy named Reid Stowe who set out over 500 days ago to sail non-stop at sea for 1,000 days. Sometimes reading his blog makes me feel a bit more free.

His voyage has generated a ridiculous amount of criticism at a popular sailor forum called Sailing Anarchy; the post on his voyage has received over 190,000 mostly negative comments and 600,000 views. I stopped following the thread long ago, and I won't try and dissect the various reasons people are against Reid and his weird voyage, but I wonder if the root of the criticism is simply the fundamental difference between racing sailors and cruising sailors.

I've sailed for 10 years and I'm passionate about it but I don't race. Sure, I love the Volvo Ocean Race, but mostly for the cool videos. The first time I directly experienced the mentality of the racing sailor was when I applied to be a sailing instructor in Annapolis. Me and three other applicants went out with this hardcore racer sailor for a day of observation and training on the water. I was excited because I'd get to sail on a J-80 --- supposedly the Corvette of sailboats --- but while on the water, I felt something that I'd never felt while on a sailboat: the desire to just get back to the dock. Usually, going home is the least fun part of the trip for me. What was going on?

Racing a sailboat often draws the same jockish mentality that I hated in high school. On the water that day, trying to sail a boat in a racing style reduced my enjoyment and I made mistakes that I would've never made on my own boat. See, I'm a set-it-and-forget-it sailor; as long as the wife isn't complaining, the beer isn't spilling and the dog isn't about to fall overboard, I'm happy. I could give a flying fuck about whether the outhaul on the mainsail is the right tension or we could be going 0.03 knots faster. If I wanted to play competitive sports, I'd join a soccer team instead of owning a 36-year-old barnacle-covered sloop.

This is likely why many racing sailors find Reid Stowe so repellent. Reid is a dreamer --- a real dreamer, the type that's rare these days. He talks to rainbows and fish. He tries to sail paths on the ocean in the shape of turtles and whales. He practices yoga on a gimbaled platform on the stern. He lives on mung beans and flying fish. He's a freak who's over 50 and got a 23-year-old pregnant. He was arrested for trying to smuggle massive loads of marijuana into the US in the 1980s. He made this hippy-dippy tripped-out video. For god sakes, his website has a banner of him looking like this:

The square world has a natural hatred for all that shit!

I can't wait until Reid finishes his trip. When he gets back to New York after 1,000 days at sea, I'm gonna make a road trip up to welcome him back. And I'll be laughing at all the people who said he couldn't do it --- just like the d-bags who said Obama could never win. Reid and I probably have nothing in common other than our love of sailing and the sea but I'd like to shake his hand. I don't care if he owes alimony (he does) or the 100 transgressions he's made in the eyes of racing sailors. This is a man who looks out at the water as I do, and sees not a race track or just another component of the rat race, but something deeper, more spiritual.

No, I didn't just say the word "spiritual," did I? Oh shit, am I becoming a god damn hippie?? STOP ME.
Dude...whoa. The walls are breathing, man. Breathing. You know what, who cares if the guy isn't the perfect husband or role model in general, I think the idea of spending 1000 days sailing around because you feel like sailing around is a damn fine way to spend your time. It sure beats desk jockeying in some cubicle farm.
Agree with you both, but also love the fact that Reid's trippy hippy video brings up Full Throttle Douche as an associated vid.

I've got three more years of cubicle duty myself and then we are sailing away.
But it doesn't bother you that he mis-portrayed the connections with NASA, that he was going to circumnavigate 3 times,that they were going to conduct scientific study, etc. in order to raise funds for the trip?

It doesn't bother you that he kept taking trips instead of paying child support?

Tom McGow
Lake Worth FL

Since it is a spiritual and cool trip, it make doing these things in order to go on his voyage possible ok in some way.

I find it hard to praise someone who in order to archive their own desires misrepresents things and does not fulfill commitments.

Been sailing 45 years, cruising and racing and I have to say I have meet idiot cruisers who I wanted to get off the boat too. Talk about stereotyping! Take a look in the mirror. My father was a serious racer and the best person you could ever want to put to sea with, I have many. many close friends who I have raced with who are some of the finest people you could ever want to meet. I take exception to you forming such a narrow minded opinion after ONE experience!

Just my 2 cents based on my time on the water and trying to do the right thing!

You may be right. I am making stereotypes --- I do all the time on this blog!

I have nothing against racing sailors, I just think it's a bit different mindset in many ways.
Wow, I hope you and your wife aren't planning kids anytime soon. If you support this guy at all I'd be scared to have kids with you. He's a deadbeat dad and has another kid he's never even seen and can't support? The guy is a loser for sure. Ewww Yuck!

Voletta Horshen
Thanks for visiting us at S/A.
It made for a nice change from all of Reid's other supporters who write all kinds of bunk and then delete it later when they are called on it!

Ok, I get your personal view on why you don't dig racing and prefer a relaxed attitude towards sailing.

But both here and at SA you didn't respond to these two questions:

But it doesn't bother you that he mis-portrayed the connections with NASA, that he was going to circumnavigate 3 times,that they were going to conduct scientific study, etc. in order to raise funds for the trip?

It doesn't bother you that he kept taking trips instead of paying child support?

I suspect that those two points are really the main reason he draws so much flack.

Call me square if you like but I cannot give praise to a man that achieves his "dreams" in such a fashion.

Your thoughts?

Tom McGow
Lake Worth, FL
Tom, do you know who David Vann is? He left on an unseaworthy craft that he built for an around the world trip a few months ago. It failed a few miles out. I read Vann's book and it's clear to me that the true mission of his voyage was to have a disaster at sea, hit the EPIRB, risk the lives of the rescuers, and have new material for a book. That is despicable and deserves true criticism.

Stowe has done nothing like Vann. Stowe is just an old hippie who wants to wander around the ocean for 1000 days. He's a bit of a douche and possibly a minor con artist, but it all seems harmless to me.

He never claimed he was funded by NASA. He did misportray it, but so what? It's minor, just like the other things he set out to do that aren't working out. Again, he's a bit of a loon, but this is nothing to get uppity about. Who cares.

On the child support issue, I don't know the whole story and neither does anyone at the SA forum. Who knows, maybe one of his relatives is paying it? Many folks at SA seem so self-righteous and judgemental that it's ridiculous. Many people even seem like they're Reid's mother.
Thanks for replying

No, I didn't say funded by NASA, but that he was connected to people there.

Yup, don't know the whole story about the child support, just that he never payed it.

Yeah I read about Vann, that was a train wreck that I choose to leave alone.

Well, you and I just disagree on those we decide hold up as an example of what is good about the sailing comunity.

Thanks again for the reply.

Tom McGow
Lake Worth FL
You might get a laugh out of the debate I had with a few of the "Cheese Scow" set last year. Was feeling uncharacteristically feisty that day for some reason.

The whole SA obsession thing is bizarre - I check in on his site every now & then to see if he's still carrying on. Maybe 5 minutes a week or so of my web-based goofing off (which I do like most people watch T.V.). More if the post is actually about boat maintenance or getting water or something solid like that - I find those more interesting than the new agey ones.

The hours the key Sailing Anarchy thread people have devoted to him? The mind just reels. I'd never waste half that amount of time on somebody I hate. Life's too short.

"you and I just disagree on those we decide hold up as an example of what is good about the sailing comunity"

Wait, are you serious with this? I could give two shits about an "example" of any "sailing community."
I think the idea of Lonnie Bruner holding up/talking about how someone should represent a certain "community" is hysterical.

I'm waiting to hear about people in the orchid raising community and the shrimp farming community and the home bar builders community and the... if!
These comments are so funny. How can anyone get worked up about the opinions of an author whose title for his writing is "Talkin' Shit....."?

Keep on talkin' shit Lonnie. I may not always agree with it but it sure is entertaining.
Lonnie, how many hits did you get directly from the link in sailing anarchy? I'm thinking about doing a late-month surge and inciting the inmates over at SA for some hits. If it's over 50, it would be worth the aggravation.

Hovian Tool

Not sure how many hits, but easily 50. Although I was not the one that linked to my own site. That thread is a sewer most of the time.

How they found your site is the most interesting part. Somebody must google his name pretty often hoping to find more information.

I think the person who posted it was a regular reader or friend of a regular reader because they had linked to this post within a few hours after I wrote it.
Hey Voletta Horshon:

Thanks for your concern but you need to chill out a little. Just because you admire somebody's accomplishment doesn't mean you admire everything about them or want to emulate their lives. See: Norman Mailer, Bill Clinton, most famous artists and writers. Somebody can be a brilliant (fill-in-the-blank) and also be a dirtbag and a deadbeat and mean-mistreater.

Lonnie was not nominating Reid Stowe as Father of the Year, but just saying he admires Stowe's exhilaration and awe of nature and shares his thrill of being alive.

-Katie (Lonnie's wife)

PS: Is Voletta Horshon your real name? That's kind of a cool name. Maybe when we have the kid we're planning to have soon, we will name her Voletta.
That sounds like a good strategy Edward. I'm also in desperate need of a late October surge in my popularity. What issues get the people at SA most excited? Would it help if I accused my opponent of wanting to redistribute their wealth to Laser sailors?
Actually, the number of replys on the S/A thread is "only" 19,333 today, not 190,000 as you state -- wrong number of zeroes. Thread views at 623235. At 5 min/post and 3 min/view, that's 1366 full-time days -- much more than the proposed voyage time. Talk about people having nothing better to do!

Whoa. Now that's a major miscalculation on my part.
Knocking someone that you do not know in life is pure prejudice. How do you know for sure that he does not make child support payments. Thats the problem with the world...TOO many people are out to get each other or wreck other peoples lives. I speak to Reid on a regular basis via emails...Grow up and respect what he is doing...If you can't, go try more then a 1000 days at sea and see where it gets you. Negative people are whats wrong with the world. Sad
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