Skip to main content

Passage to Nirvana

A sailing story of hope and recovery

It's a memoir about a husband and father trying to walk the tightrope of modern life - until he's hit by a car, suffers a traumatic brain injury and his life unravels. It's tough reading, until his recovery leads him to a worn-out 25-year-old 60-foot sailing ketch the practicing Zen Buddhist-turned-sailor named Nirvana.

Image placeholder title

Lee Carlson, a writer and editor by trade, has penned "Passage to Nirvana: A Survivor's Zen Voyage," ($23.96 hardcover, Henry Chapin & Sons, 2010), which he hopes inspires other brain-injury survivors - and anyone who's had a traumatic life event - find their own path to happiness.

Some of the most inspiring chapters of the book are his account of purchasing and restoring Nirvana with his girlfriend. Then the new liveaboard couple goes sailing with their adopted old boatyard dog, with occasional visits from their collective four kids.

"As we headed north into the open ocean, Nirvana blissfully charging up and down the waves for the first time since we'd owned her, I was struck by the immense difference in how I felt being in nature, on Nirvana, feeling the waves beneath her, the wind in her sails, the connection to the planet we live on ...," Carlson writes of their cruise from St. Martin to New York and New England.

It's hardly a typical sailing story, but it's an inspiring one. www.passage

This article originally appeared in the Home Waters sections of the January 2011 issue.