Thank you for wishing me “good luck”. I understand that you have wished for me good things and success in my venture and that it is kind and well meant.  But I must tell you this.  I do not believe in “luck”. Of course, a bold statement like that demands an explanation.  You see, “Luck” is merely a word contrived to sell me lotto tickets and get me to the casino or to allow me to explain away another’s hard work, “he’s sure lucky”.

So what do I believe in if it is not “my good luck” to be living my dream on the waterways of the world?  I believe in the consequences of my choices and action.  I’ve not always thought this deeply about the reasons things happen the way they happen.  Being on a small vessel on big waters waiting a storm to pass is a good venue for such reflections.  Perhaps it helps to reach 63 years still alive, many times in spite of my choices.  And it helps to take a constant inventory of my past in search of what not to do.   I don’t always know what to do next, but I’m rich in the knowledge of what not to do.  This search reveals me as an emotion based decision maker in desperate need of becoming a principle based decision maker.  I see clearly those moments I made snap decisions that altered the course of my life forever.  Every bad decision ever I made felt like a good idea at the time.  The cold light of the truth shows me it was mostly my laziness that urged me to choose if it feels good, do it; if it feels bad or is hard or even uncomfortable, don’t.  (A bad philosophy to live by in any book.)  But I got smarter.  I reserve always my God given right to get smarter.

So for me, there is a trap in believing in luck.  It’s this; it will always desert me when I need it most.  Only hindsight would reveal wither Luck was with me or against me.  The greatest lie a person can tell himself, “That’s just the way I am” as if being one way is our unchangeable destiny.  A lie!  Of all God’s creatures only the human being is granted the power to change moment by moment to whatever he chooses.  The eagle is and always will be an eagle doing eaglelie things and the rabbit a rabbit doing rabbitie things, only we in the confines of our puny little bodies with the oversized and underused brain can choose to act in accordance with emotions or with principles to alter that destiny.  To trust in luck is to through that choice back in the face of the Creator who gave it. 

So as the wind howls and the boat rocks hard against the seawall in Rogers City MI, am I “lucky” to be here and not out there?  No, I choose to be here, based on these principles.  A small trimaran will make very little headway into the wind.  There was a long way to go to the next safe harbor. The wind will change.  A small trimaran will make great headway with the wind abeam or just abaft the beam.  If I go out into a storm trying to make head way chances are I might break something.

(What did he say “chances”?  Isn’t a chance what luck is all about?  Answer: NO)

Chance and luck are not the same things, though they are always used as if they were.  The casino entices me with “come try your luck” when they know that the mathematical probability, the chance, is with them.  I ask myself, how else did they afford to build that beautiful hotel. 

Please don’t take this as a judgment on your particular choice of entertainment, you’ll miss the point.  “What’s the point?”  The point is… I say these things for my own edification.  Sailors are students of nature and what better subject than my own human nature as it relates to the choices before me.  Robert Frost reminds me “good fences make good neighbors” which remind me good principles make good decisions. 

I waited and the wind changed.  Please wish for me a clear mind, sound body and good choices based in the principles of good seamanship.



6 Responses to “LUCK”

  1. Bill says:

    Tommy —
    Now THAT’s a blog post — best one yet. THAT’s why I read … to catch these little tidbits here and there … the thoughts that meander through a solo-sailor’s mind. What makes him tick? Why a tick, as opposed to a tock? How do you resolve the reflections of your life in the wind and waves?

    Thanks for this one.
    — Bill
    Houghton, Keweenaw

  2. MJ says:

    I hear what you’re saying, Captain.


  3. John says:

    Cap’n Tommy:
    Well said.
    Luck, in all its versions, is a troubling concept, to be sure. It seems a poor substitute for preparation (and this comment comes from a person who is famously unprepared……)

  4. unstranger says:

    I concur with comment from Bill. This blog is getting better all the time.

  5. […] a little gem here on Cap’n Tommy’s blog which defines the concept of ‘Luck’ in a refreshingly positive and reassuring manner. […]

  6. Al R. says:


    Other great sailors, both real and fictional, share your line thought regarding luck–

    “Them who are the luckiest, are those who leave the least to chance!” A line from a Horatio Hornblower novel by C.S. Forester (If I recall correctly).

    “…The harder I work, the luckier I get!” (attributed to Capt. Bosigua)