Aside from the dream itself, the letter below is pretty much how it all begins. Originally intended for yachting and sailing clubs, I figured this would be the best way for me to connect with individuals I didn’t yet know and who were in a position to help me. Since then, however, through the help of family, friends, friends of friends and complete strangers, it’s taken on a life of its own and found its way to people and places I never would’ve imagined. To this, all I can say is, wow, thanks, and I hope it continues to move.

The Polynesians.  Magellan.  Slocum.  All blue water adventurers.  Now how about a guy in a wheelchair?


I’ve always believed that if you’re going to do something big, it’s got to start at the beginning like everything else. I also believe — and have experienced first hand — that big ideas have gravity that can attract other big ideas. Push them along and they’ll gain momentum, and as a result, even the most challenging of ideas are destined to succeed.

I have a dream that, while beginning with me, will only be made real through the expansive kindness, imagination, and skill of others. I have a dream of a blue water sea voyage, but not the kind that can be signed up through a travel agent or a website. No, the voyage I imagine is altogether more adventurous and will take a lot more creativity, flexibility and collaboration.

The course I envision embarking on is this; I want to sail from New Zealand to Australia, Australia to Fiji and then on to Hawaii. However, all are any of these legs would work, as where I start or finish is secondary to the journey itself. The heart of my dream is to simply be in my element — the ocean — in a part of the world I’ve never been before with passionate people I’ll come to know.

What makes this whole thing unique is I’m essentially paralyzed from the chest down as the result of a spinal cord injury I suffered at a local beach when I was 16. Nobody with my level of disability has ever attempted such an ambitious journey which is why I’m writing you today. I’m just getting to know people in your community/sport, so I felt this would be the best way for me to make an initial connection.

In some ways, this feels like a shot in the dark, but I’m hopeful that you, your peers, colleagues, family member or friends just might be interested in making this dream come to life by taking on this adventure. This is an amazing world, filled with amazing people and if there’s one thing I’ve learned since my accident, it’s to never be surprised by the generosity, kindness and passion of strangers.

You may be wondering why I feel so compelled to pursue this dream. Aside from my deep love and affinity for the ocean, my reasons are as significant as a boat itself, because they are, in fact, the true impetus of this whole thing. Basically it comes down to what I’ve learned during the past, most challenging 15 years of my disability; a time which saw me spending close to 60% of it in bed — flat on my back — nursing pressure sores.  This is in no way a complaint — I find life overwhelmingly beautiful regardless of the difficulties — but I realized all that downtime made me cautious in a way I hardly recognized.

Over the years, I put off doing adventurous things thinking my situation would get better around the corner. We all do this to some extent, but I’m certain I don’t want to be at the end of my life wondering what could’ve been had I only pursued my dream. And, although I won’t get back those years of cautious waiting, the present awaits wide open, and that’s what this trip is all about — seizing every moment and squeezing out all that it has to offer. If such a trip can challenge and encourage another person, disabled or not, to look at their life in a similar light, then, wow, what a trip it’s going to be!

Thank you ever so much for your time and any effort you may put forth in passing this on to the appropriate persons. I look forward to hearing from you and will be happy to address any specific questions or suggestions you might have.

Tony Schmiesing

If you want to learn a little bit more about me, please visit my website. Cheers.

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