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Notable New Books: Occupation: Circumnavigator

Feb 29, 2008 Socially, long-distance sailors can be divided into two broad categories: soloists who prefer isolation and forego the camaraderie (and aggravation) of companions; and those who invite life partners, relatives, friends new and old and even paying customers to share in their experiences upon the waters of the world. Lars Hassler is a sailor of the second type, a small businessman who is always surrounded with company — most of whom paid for the experience of being on board his yacht and thus helped to finance Hassler’s dreams of circumnavigation.

This first English language publication of his book Occupation: Circumnavigator describes how he realized his dream at the age of 42 of sailing around the world and how, through chartering his custom built 50-foot Beneteau Oceanis 500 Jennifer, he fully financed 10 years of cruising life.

Having a good product and loving the lifestyle is the key to a successful charter business. He gives details of his first four years of experience, first learning the fine points of his boat, how to organize a business, manage finances, and work with customers sailing and chartering (and paying off debt) in the Caribbean. Then cruising the world, primarily in third world stops, with the exception of New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore, he includes a bit of background information on each region to help readers understand the area’s historical, social, and political realities, which are not always pleasant.

In the main however, the book is an upbeat and encouraging read for many types of sailors: as a handbook for aspiring long distance sailors, a guide for people who want to start a career in the charter boat business, or as a travel memoir for those who are considering signing on as paying crewmembers.

A former lawyer and commodities trader from Stockholm, Hassler counts his blessings throughout the book while realistically looking at the difficulties and sometime tragedies of his chosen lifestyle. Realizing that the book itself is part business guide and part personal chronicle, Hassler excuses any incongruities, “we have only one world — and this is how I have experienced it.” This personal view of things told in a straightforward manner makes Occupation: Circumnavigator an engaging and amusing read.