Dwyer is a 27-year-old backcountry skier, single-handed sailor, award-winning grillmaster, and ski engineer. A few years ago, he quit his job, sold all of his possessions, bought a sailboat and never looked back. He is currently exploring Chilean Patagonia on his 30-ft sailboat named the Rascal.
Q: What was your major in college? What kind of job did you envision for yourself when you were a senior?
A: I studied Mechanical Engineering in college and always figured that would turn itself into a cubicle job at a huge company after I graduated. I had an epiphany between my sophomore and junior years and I decided that I could engineer pretty much anything I wanted. I made “becoming a ski engineer” my goal for the following two years, and landed a job in ski testing at a company called Black Diamond after graduation.
Q: What do you do now?
A: I’m an international man of leisure. I’m a ski bum that lives in a floating “van down by the river.” I’m currently unemployed, sailing the Rascal (my floating home) down the west coast of the Americas.
Q: Why sailing?
A: I left my job, in large part, because I wasn’t feeling challenged. I was considering a long distance motorcycle trip instead of sailing, but I already knew how to ride motorcycles and sailing was a huge (and intriguing) mystery to me—a new challenge. I’ve always enjoyed the ocean, and I figured a change of scenery would be good for me. I read a few books, ended up hooked, and jumped in with both feet. It turns out sailing isn’t as hard as people make it out to be.
Q: Where is the coolest place you have sailed to?
A: Chilean Patagonia is a place with lots of volcanic activity and that translates to huge volcanos and plenty of hot springs. There is one specific fjord that is dozens of miles from the nearest road that sports towering cliffs, thundering waterfalls, lush rainforest, snow capped peaks, and a hot spring carved out of the rock with channels bringing hot water to each of the half dozen tubs. I’ve never seen another person there.
Q: What’s one time when your travels took you outside your comfort zone?
A: At times, I need to carry enough food and water for several months. If something breaks a thousand miles from the nearest land, I need to be able to fix it. When bad weather shows up, there is nobody around to save me. None of that felt comfortable at first, but I’ve grown more competent, confident, and independent over time. At this point, big storms and long periods without human contact aren’t intimidating; they’re just a regular part of my life.
Q: How have you grown from this experience?
A: I’ve seen and experienced some beautiful things in the ocean and along the coast. This world we have is an incredible place and we’re abusing it in a thousand different ways. I’ve been able to live a low-impact life on the Rascal and I’ll carry that with me when this adventure is over, but beyond that I’ve developed a more concrete desire to make this world a more sustainable place.
Q: What are the challenges of being so far from home and sometimes from dry land?
A: There are lots of technical challenges associated with sailing, but the human / personal challenges are often times the hardest. I have a great group of friends back in the states, and lots of buddies have flown down to visit me, but I miss interacting with friends and family a lot. I certainly cherish those relationships now more than ever!
Q: Do you think you’ll ever work in an office from 9-5 again?
A: Contrary to popular belief, there are many evils in this world worse than the dreaded 9-5 job. There are lots of ways to make money, and if something I’m passionate about comes in the form of a 9-5 job, I’ll have no qualms about that.
Q: Would you recommend this lifestyle?
A: Hell yeah! Life on the Rascal has really opened my eyes to what is possible with a little bit of frugality and sacrifice. It’s not always easy or comfortable, but ease and comfort aren’t what adventures are all about.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do something similar?
A: Work hard, save your money, quit making excuses, and live your dream!
You can follow the adventures of Dwyer and the Rascal here: