Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dick Brano - junk and inspiration

At times we can kid ourselves that we’re living on the edge; that we are pioneers and adventurers, out on our boat in the big bad ocean. Friends and family also like to create this image in their minds. We happily step up to the fill the imaginary spot as risk taking free spirits who’ve cast off the security blanket of society and headed out to face the world!
But in reality, we have savings and a relatively large and fancy boat. We eat in restaurants when we like and there’s always petrol for our dinghy, diesel for our motors and spare cash for any repairs we might need.
Yesterday as we hiked over from our bay to the chandlery to buy some more frivolous parts for Shiloh, we stopped at De Big Fish restaurant to chat with a couple friends and share a tasty chicken roti. Really roughing it ;)
We glanced out at the dinghy dock and noticed what was difficult not to notice. A ramshackle hobie cat type vessel with a patched up little windsurfer’s sail, old metal garden chairs propped up on upside down beer cases and graffiti all along the little hulls.
 There was also a blog address boldly printed there. The boat had a strange name – “Dick Brano”. Well my curious mind had to find out more. And indeed I did!
This mess at the jetty, it turned out, was a vessel built literally out of junk, here in Grenada on it’s route from St. Marten in the northern part of the Caribbean, all the way to Venezuela. About 1000 nautical miles!
Here was a boat built by two true adventurers, travelling without a safety net, or even a roof, facing every day the wrath of the sun and sea, sleeping in a tent on random beaches, eating free coconuts and no doubt fishing for their own protein.
These people had come so far, sat on a barely floating set of pontoons, with a few tiny boxes strapped on, holding all their earthly belongings.
 I sat mesmerized, soaked in by the blog and it’s entries. They found themselves at some stage, after years of frugal traveling, in the Cape Verde islands off West Africa and took a spur of the moment opportunity to crew on an Australian boat to the Caribbean with $2 to their names. They were already so far from their native homes - he from the UK and she from Guatemala. They decided they wanted to see the whole region, but that they needed their own boat. And with less than a fiver, they'd have to be creative. And they were more than that. Dick Brano was built completely of others' discarded junk. 
I think of the bad weather we've faced just between the few islands around Grenada, and how Shiloh was bashed, and how scary it was at certain moments. I simply cannot imagine it on a 14ft open hobie cat.
There is a post where they found themselves halfway down the island chain, and in some violent waves the boat capsizes and they lose pretty much all of what little they had. My instinct was to cry - it was so sad! And yet, because of their eternal optimism and faith in the journey, they find a village of people who donate, cook, labour and support them to build the vessel back up, so they can carry on. No quitting there. 

See video above - as they passed through St. Lucia, a local news station did a brief story on the pair.
So, I’ve been inspired.  To live each day more fully. To appreciate everything about the journey and not focus on the things at all. At the end of the day, the things are nothing at all. This couple jumps, swims, laughs, hugs and soaks in every minute of every day.
We waited hours there to meet them, but alas we had to move on and only on our return a while later did we see them, already pulled away from the dock, headed further on their journey.
I send them virtual hugs and I truly hope they will find everything they need along the way, depending on the good nature in people and ignoring the negatives that would have kept them back, stopped them in their tracks, held them back from a life of learning the world.
If you have a minute, visit their site HERE, read their story and be inspired. They are not a cute little post-it note or inspirational message written in calligraphy, but a real live flesh and blood example of how you can take life by the horns and ride it.
They abolish fear and hold on to nothing but each other and the passion for learning more.
As 10ft waves push them around, each wind gust or rain squall threatening their trip, not to mention their lives, they push on, happy for the opportunity. The great gift of being alive!
Imagine if we could all take just a little lesson from that – what a different world it could be!


  1. Thanks for that link. Does kind of put things in perspective, doesn't it?


  2. Hi Holli and John,
    I found your blog through Mike's link on ZtoC and I am looking forward to following your journey.
    Wishing you all the best,
    Larry Jenkins

    1. Thanks Larry - are you on a boat as well? Friends of Mike and Rebecca? We're anchored beside each other right now :)

  3. I just finished reading through their whole blog via Zero to Cruising. I can NOT imagine doing what they are doing. I need my creature comforts!! If I was 30 years younger... then perhaps. It makes me sad that I was so limited in my upbringing that I had no idea such adventures were possible. I didn't even know the Caribbean existed. Now I do and I want to sail it, but doing it your way is much more appealing!! BTW - I found your site through a search of Dick Brano on Google.

    1. Hi Sandy - thanks for writing. I agree that I wish I'd known what possibilities were out there when I was younger. But I wouldn't want to do it quite as risky as the Dick Brano crew. Still, i admire them so much and wish them all the best. Glad my Google referencing is working and that you found me like that! All the best :)

  4. Off to read them, and I thought your was an amazing adventure ... perspective ... one must always use perspective.

    1. Hey Paola - yes, reading about them and their journey totally puts things in perspective. Wow :)

  5. I just want to say a HUGE thankyou! Its write-ups like this that really keep us going on these little adventures! Such a shame we didnt get to meet you guys in person, but we love what you wrote about the trip! As much as you say we inspire people like you, its because of people like you that our journey was possible!
    So we are now in Venezuela, we have been here for a few days so far and are loving it...when we have time the blog will all be filled in, and we,ll be sure not to miss a second of the last giant jump we had from Grenada...
    Once again, a massive thankyou and a huge hug, hope to catch you on the next adventure!

    Dick Brano

    1. Moon! So glad and amazed to hear you're all the way down in Venezuela. Can't wait to hear about that last leg of the trip. What is next for you guys?

      Wish we could have met as well and bought you some drinks or a meal. I really hope we meet up some day.

      We'll be down in Trini/ABC's/Columbia/Panama later this year. Where do you think you might be??

      All the best on the continuing adventures! :)

  6. Hi guys! Happy 2013! We are back in the caribbean, BVI, saving some money ad preparing for the next adventure... we though of letting you know so you can follow the blog... our next scenery will be Europe, Russia, Mongolia and India! So keep in touch and see you out there! Much love,
    Ben and Moon.