Most people misunderstand life.

What we can all learn from a 75-year-old sailor building a 10 ft boat to circumnavigate the globe. (nonstop)

sven at sea

Sven Yrvind, a 75-year-old Swedish boat builder, designer, sailor and writer, has something to say about life.  He’s chosen to communicate this philosophy through taking on tough challenges. Faced with a future of scraping by on a crap pension, surfing channels in a retirement home, Sven had different ideas.

TV is not for me. I must have something to live for, problems to solve. Most people misunderstand life. Money does not make you happy. Comfort does not make you happy. It is only by using energy you create more energy and it is that surplus of energy that makes you happy and healthy.”

Sven has lived this quote. A recent 45 day trip took him across the Atlantic in a 16 foot self-made boat. He’s been building and navigating small boats around the world, for 50 years, including treacherous, stormy waters like those near Cape Horn at the southern tip of Chile.

The Quest

For his next trip, Sven is building a 10 foot boat to circumnavigate the globe nonstop – a 30,000 nautical mile voyage that will last 600 days.  Some have called this a suicide project but with more than 50 years of experience designing, building and sailing small crafts, Sven has proven smaller is better.  A smaller boat, designed to be indestructible, has less forces acting on it then a larger boat. It lives among the waves, instead of doing battle with them.


Because he’s making the trip nonstop, he’s also bringing along 800 pounds of food and 200 pounds of books.

(Yes, he also plans on bringing a tablet )  He will power these devices, along with modern navigation and communication equipment, with a pedal power generator. His 10 foot boat is built like a space capsule.  It will capsize, it will pitchpole, but it will always come back up, much like Sven Yrvind.  If he completes the journey, it will be a world record for a small vessel.

Sven is always launched his expeditions with a minimum of financial resources. Like a modern-day Thoreau, he wants to send a message about our excessive, consumption driven culture that takes way more than its fair share of the world’s natural resources.

There’s more we can learn from Sven’s journey than just a message about consumption.

Here are just a few:

Play the long game. I loved Sven’s comments about not wanting to end up with other pensioners in a home watching TV.  At 75, he is playing the long game, upping the ante. It would be much better to leave this earth doing something you love, and trying to set a world record, than in front of the TV.

Live an interesting life. In addition to launching global sailing expeditions, and designing  small boats, Swen also tracks his progress through his blog and has written four books.

Live lean, consume less, enjoy life more.  Sven’s story resonated with me. If one man can live in a 10 ft. boat for 600 consecutive days at sea, then surely we can all strive to live on fewer resources and material goods than we do today.

Choose experiences over stuff.   Give up some creature comforts, step away from the flatscreen TV, go out and experience life.  You don’t need to set any world records, it’s the experience that counts.

Have a quest.  This could be the true secret to longevity versus a lot of the pills, powders and fitness miracles promoted today. Sven’s world record quest requires he stay on top of his game mentally and physically with a daily practice of hiking, kayaking, reading, and working on his sailboat.

If you want to learn more about Sven’s journey and his life, check out his blog As I looked through the photos of his amazing boat, I thought this would make one hell of a #kickstarter project! Check out a 3-D model of his boat here.

The Frug.


Some Related Reading. These are Amazon Links. You can also get these books free in epub form or paperback at your local library.

On Having a Quest

On Ocean Adventures

On a Daily Practice




  1. Meremortal

    People with no money often say that money doesn’t make you happy.

    Maybe they are right but I’m not interested in finding out.

    Congratulations to this cat for doing what he loves.

    I’m doing the same.

  2. Just a heads up that the book recommendations do not show up for those of us that use adblock… Not entirely sure why that is.

    Thanks for a great site!

  3. Great website!!! I share the same sentiments. At 65 and almost homeless like the 300 thousand others in the UK and with only a pension left, I plan to live on a boat and circumnavigate the globe too. I have not watched TV in 15 years and have never sailed before but have no intention of going in an old folks home. My venture wont be a record breaking non stop one though and might take much longer than 600 days but this ambitious project is very inspiring. Thanks

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