Cowboy to Sailor

haydenMy Grandson Hayden

How do you go from a cowboy to sailor, “you might ask?”  Well, I will never quit being a cowboy, it is the way of life I was born with.  I can never remember not being a cowboy, from playing cowboys & Indians to riding bulls in the rodeos; breaking and training horses to working ranch round-ups or just being out on the trail.  A wise cowboy once said, “Anyone can be a cowboy, but it takes a genius to make money at it!”


Well, I’m no genius so I followed in my father’s footsteps and went to work in the construction field.  In 1984 I started my own company, DALE CURTEN PLASTERING. Sounds great, my own business, have people working for me, making more money than when I was just an employee, wrong!  All those things were true, but now instead of working 40 hours I was working 60 to 80 hours a week!  All my time for riding, roping, being out on the trail with my horse or doing the things I love was being put into my business.  I was fast beginning to learn that I didn’t own the business, but the business owned me.

It was during this time that I learned to sail. I was first introduced to sailing by my cousin, Ruben who had bought a 30’ Catalina.  As I sailed with my cousin on Lake Don Pedro in central California, I felt the same freedom as I did riding Ole Dandy across the Sierra Nevada’s Pacific Crest Trail.  With the cool wind in the sails and the quiet sound of waves against the hull, I was hooked!  A few years later Ruben sold the Catalina and upgraded to a CT 41 Full Keel traditional sailing vessel. While berthed in Ventura, California, I went on several crossings to the Channel Islands aboard this magnificent two mast sailboat.

During WWII, my Dad sailed in the Merchant Marines aboard the Victory Ship Cape Georgia.  He sailed the South Pacific and was at the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  He once said to me,There’s just something about being out on that ocean, wind in your face, the smell of the sea and the mist of deep blue water in your face, you just never forget.”  While standing at the helm of my cousin’s CT41, every story Dad shared about sailing the “deep blue” South Pacific Seas came through my mind.  I never felt more alive or such freedom as I did that day.

I never will forget the day I went to purchase my first sailboat, a used 25’ Piver Trimaran moored in Morro Bay, California.  Traveling with me were my two good friends, Gary and Charlie. It was a beautiful sunny day as we sailed 5 miles or so miles off shore with the owner and the captain.  If you know anything about sailing out of Morro Bay, you know the wind can go from calm to a gale force in just a few hours.  It wasn’t long before the three of us were over the aft getting rid of the morning’s breakfast.  The poor captain was quickly trying to reef the sails and get us seasick cowboys back to land and off the boat.  The owner was sure we had wasted his day and no way would a sale take place.

As we hooked up to the mooring and helped the captain canvas the sails, I asked, “What’s the least you’ll take for her?”  The captain looked like a deer in headlights, eyebrows raised in shock as he stuttered, “you have no sea legs!”  Still spitting and wiping my mouth, I said, “just like riding a bronco, you get back on!”  I purchased my first sailboat.

You might ask, “Why would you buy a sailboat if you are prone to getting seasick?” If you have ever experienced seasickness you will think I am crazy, however, I have only been sick a few times since the day I purchased that first sailboat.  I tried all the remedies; Dramamine, wrist bands, keeping my eyes on the horizon, all the things they tell you will work, right! Although it’s best to sail in good weather, you can manage to find your sea legs even in the roughest conditions… as long as you are sailing!  When the boat stops, or if you go down below, you may find yourself starting to feel sick, the constant motion of bobbing up and down, up and down, till your stomach starts churning.  Once that happens… Arrrrggg!  If you love something enough, you will confront any challenge to fulfill your dreams!  For the Cowboy Captain, it’s the freedom of dropping the dock lines, hoisting the sails, setting a course for the horizon, popping a cork and enjoying the cruise!


Freedom! We all want it, we all crave it and still we are slaves to the one thing that keeps us from our dreams, the JOB, it all comes down to money!  The one thing that makes the world go round, filthy lucre.  The Bible says, “The love of money is the root of all evil,” but I say, being a slave to money is evil.  We all work so hard to earn money just to pay the bills and hope we don’t run out of money before we run out of month.  We all dream of hitting the lotto, but when you really think about it, it’s not the money we want, it’s what the money will buy.  Ask anyone what they would do if they hit the lottery. They start naming all the things they would buy or do with the money; new cars, large homes, yachts, travel, help family, or give to a favorite charity.  You never hear anyone say, I love money too much to spend it.  No, the money is for the dream!

Someone once said, If your dream is big enough, the opportunity will present itself.”  How big is your dream?  What is it that you really want?  Do you have a burning desire for it?  God said, “I will give you the desire of your heart.” All you have to do is believe in yourself and in a power that will move the universe just for you, (that’s another story).

If you say you can, or you say you can’t, you’re right!

It’s your life, it’s your choice!

DSCF5312  Cowboy Captain

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