Big Picture is Easy to See in Captain Fatty's Atolls

Over the course of the summer, we're sailing with Captain Fatty Goodlander, editor-at-large of Cruising World magazine. He's sailing the Pacific Ocean now and sends a communique from aboard his sailboat, the Wild Card.

The captain says when he's asked about his favorite destinations, he always mentions two atolls in the Pacific that are "completely devoid of humanity" — and land. They used to be islands, but the tops grdaually eroded away and they began to retreat below the surface of the sea.

"Luckily, their fringing, frothing coral reefs grew up faster than their islands sank down. Thus there is a beautiful pristine anchorage with 360 degrees of protection from ocean waves but no land anywhere, except of course straight down 50 or 100 feet or so."

He describes the usually deserted atolls as "utter magic — tranquil, tiny green lakes in the middle of a deep blue sea, completely devoid of people yet teeming with life above and below the surface."

Whales and sharks share the water with he and his wife as they spend a month or so in the atolls, where time seems to stand still and "the big picture is easy to see."

Captain Fatty Lives the High Life on the High Seas

This summer, Weekend Edition Sunday follows Captain Fatty Goodlander as he sails through Southeast Asia and talks about his life at sea and his philosophy of freedom and discovery.

Captain Fatty Goodlander and his wife, Carolyn, on the bow of the Wild Card. i i

Captain Fatty Goodlander and his wife, Carolyn, on the bow of the Wild Card in the turquoise waters off Vava'u, Tonga. Jim Sublett hide caption

itoggle caption Jim Sublett
Captain Fatty Goodlander and his wife, Carolyn, on the bow of the Wild Card.

Captain Fatty Goodlander and his wife, Carolyn, on the bow of the Wild Card in the turquoise waters off Vava'u, Tonga.

Jim Sublett
Captain Fatty and Carolyn on the Wild Card, anchored in Vava'u, Tonga. i i

The couple on their 38-foot cutter, anchored in Vava'u. Jim Sublett hide caption

itoggle caption Jim Sublett
Captain Fatty and Carolyn on the Wild Card, anchored in Vava'u, Tonga.

The couple on their 38-foot cutter, anchored in Vava'u.

Jim Sublett

Find Captain Fatty

To locate Wild Card's current position, enter Fatty's ham call sign of W2FAT.

Captain Fatty Goodlander is an original sea gypsy. The 56-year-old sailor has lived aboard boats for 48 years sailing the world's seas and circumnavigating the globe.

Goodlander and his wife, Carolyn, have sailed more than 100,000 miles on their 38-foot cutter, Wild Card, raised a family and scraped together a modest living from their floating home.

This summer, Goodlander, who is editor-at-large of Cruising World magazine, will send regular dispatches from his boat to Weekend Edition Sunday as he explores Southeast Asia.

"Sailing to me isn't just about boats and it isn't about the destination," Goodlander says. "It's about freedom, it's about passion, it's about lust, it's about life."

Wild Card operates around the clock, often sailing for a month at a time out of the sight of land. On some days, the boat travels only 50 miles, a pace that Goodlander takes in stride. He and his wife work together to captain the boat, taking turns keeping watch when the other is working or sleeping. The couple is constantly aware of their surroundings, he says.

"If you're careful and considerate of that environment, you can sail around the world numerous times," Goodlander says. "I feel like I'm a lot safer than if I lived in Chicago or Boston."

Goodlander, a journalist for 30 years, admits that living full-time aboard a small boat isn't the most lucrative job in the world, but he finds joy in touching others through his articles in Cruising World and through books he's written. The sailing life is something Goodlander says he'll never get out of his system.

"Freedom is my drug," he says. "Freedom is my God, and I mainline this drug. I want to be the man most capable of doing things on a whim."

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.