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Breaking Seas: An overweight, middle-aged computer nerd buys his first boat, quits his job, and sails off to adventure

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Do you have a dream to pursue but everyone says it’s unrealistic? Or that you’re not qualified? Too old, too out of shape? Or you don’t have the “right experience?” Glenn Damato was a forty-one year old software instructor who walked away from his humdrum existence on a mission for which he was miserably unprepared. Why do this? The goal, in his words, was “to become somet Do you have a dream to pursue but everyone says it’s unrealistic? Or that you’re not qualified? Too old, too out of shape? Or you don’t have the “right experience?” Glenn Damato was a forty-one year old software instructor who walked away from his humdrum existence on a mission for which he was miserably unprepared. Why do this? The goal, in his words, was “to become something I am not.” The “something” Damato chose to become was an ocean sailing skipper. Overweight and without boating experience of any kind, he decided to achieve his lifelong dream of sailing around the world on his own vessel. Reckless? Dangerous? Idiotic? Call it what you will, Damato was determined to make the voyage a reality despite the obstacles. Suddenly without the comforts and security of his previous life, Damato was forced to conquer his anxieties while at the same time surviving the hazards and challenges of offshore sailing. As his experience and confidence mounts, he discovers he has indeed undergone a personal transformation – one quite different than he originally hoped, and in some ways worthier than he imagined. Breaking Seas is a tale of ocean voyaging, but it’s not just about sailing: the all-encompassing themes are rejection and disappointment – and our common human quest to get the most out of life despite being born into an imperfect universe. Part sailing adventure, part philosophical pilgrimage, Breaking Seas is for everyone who’s ever wanted to embark on an enterprise of some kind despite not meeting society’s expected “qualifications.” “This is a story about our desire to be elsewhere, reborn and enhanced, because here and now are not enough. But don’t expect a sugar-coated fairy tale with just what you want to hear,” warns Damato. “I promise an honest story truthfully told.”


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Do you have a dream to pursue but everyone says it’s unrealistic? Or that you’re not qualified? Too old, too out of shape? Or you don’t have the “right experience?” Glenn Damato was a forty-one year old software instructor who walked away from his humdrum existence on a mission for which he was miserably unprepared. Why do this? The goal, in his words, was “to become somet Do you have a dream to pursue but everyone says it’s unrealistic? Or that you’re not qualified? Too old, too out of shape? Or you don’t have the “right experience?” Glenn Damato was a forty-one year old software instructor who walked away from his humdrum existence on a mission for which he was miserably unprepared. Why do this? The goal, in his words, was “to become something I am not.” The “something” Damato chose to become was an ocean sailing skipper. Overweight and without boating experience of any kind, he decided to achieve his lifelong dream of sailing around the world on his own vessel. Reckless? Dangerous? Idiotic? Call it what you will, Damato was determined to make the voyage a reality despite the obstacles. Suddenly without the comforts and security of his previous life, Damato was forced to conquer his anxieties while at the same time surviving the hazards and challenges of offshore sailing. As his experience and confidence mounts, he discovers he has indeed undergone a personal transformation – one quite different than he originally hoped, and in some ways worthier than he imagined. Breaking Seas is a tale of ocean voyaging, but it’s not just about sailing: the all-encompassing themes are rejection and disappointment – and our common human quest to get the most out of life despite being born into an imperfect universe. Part sailing adventure, part philosophical pilgrimage, Breaking Seas is for everyone who’s ever wanted to embark on an enterprise of some kind despite not meeting society’s expected “qualifications.” “This is a story about our desire to be elsewhere, reborn and enhanced, because here and now are not enough. But don’t expect a sugar-coated fairy tale with just what you want to hear,” warns Damato. “I promise an honest story truthfully told.”

30 review for Breaking Seas: An overweight, middle-aged computer nerd buys his first boat, quits his job, and sails off to adventure

  1. 5 out of 5

    Viviane

    I enjoyed reading this book for the most part because the story of his adventure is fascinating. At times, it was suspenseful and I wanted to find out how it all worked out. But there were three things that I found difficult to overcome: 1) how unlikeable Glenn and Joyce comes across 2) his insistence on constantly calling himself an overweight loser and 3) his objectification and dislike of women. I hope that the names of the two women crew members that accompanied him, "Joyce" and "Megan" are I enjoyed reading this book for the most part because the story of his adventure is fascinating. At times, it was suspenseful and I wanted to find out how it all worked out. But there were three things that I found difficult to overcome: 1) how unlikeable Glenn and Joyce comes across 2) his insistence on constantly calling himself an overweight loser and 3) his objectification and dislike of women. I hope that the names of the two women crew members that accompanied him, "Joyce" and "Megan" are aliases. Regardless, I'm sure that these women found his book, read it, and just sadly shook their heads. Especially "Megan", who clearly had skill but was treated without dignity because of her looks. Glenn is a guy who, in the book, states that he either sees a woman as a sexual object or if he finds her unattractive, tolerates her presence. Here's a quote from the book, regarding Megan: "I was resigned not to hold her unfeminine, unsexy appearance against her. I would be gracious to her and welcome her as crew, because her qualifications were practically ideal.:" That kind of thinking is throughout the book, along with him constantly telling the reader that he's fat and ugly. I looked up his photo and he's got some serious body image issues as he's a regular looking guy that shouldn't have any problems dating, looks-wise. In this book, Glenn clearly became a competent sailor. He stepped outside of his comfort zone somewhat, but the book ends up being a lot more about his self-esteem issues and loneliness. And the interactions with his crew, specifically with his treatment of Megan, made it increasingly difficult to find him a sympathetic character.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Crawford

    Being a sailor myself with the same dream, I am finding it to be a page turner. His descriptions of the people he meets and sails with are spot on and really flesh them out. His mistrials are not only funny but frightening. I will say that not checking weather (and he wasn't alone in this) before leaving for Baja was an oversight that is mindboggingly just plain dumb. Of course, I was a weather specialist in the Air Force so I check weather even if the most I'm going to be doing that day is couc Being a sailor myself with the same dream, I am finding it to be a page turner. His descriptions of the people he meets and sails with are spot on and really flesh them out. His mistrials are not only funny but frightening. I will say that not checking weather (and he wasn't alone in this) before leaving for Baja was an oversight that is mindboggingly just plain dumb. Of course, I was a weather specialist in the Air Force so I check weather even if the most I'm going to be doing that day is couch surfing...but still. He was lucky he had good crew but that situation (and I'm still reading that part) would have freaked me out had I been onboard. I cannot tell you how many times Captains made bad decisions or hurried a trip to the detriment of crew and vessel. However, this book isn't necessarily a cautionary tale. It's also humorous and self deprecating. I see it almost like a Sedaris but with Adventure. I heard the ending is a surprise and I think I might have inadvertentaly read a spoiler but I'm looking forward to knowing what happened! Glenn, I hope you're still sailing...and I said hi on Linkedin. Kudos to you for trying...and you got a good book out of it! Lisa

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alena

    This is a fast paced, easy read about a self-proclaimed nerd who decided "to become" by abandoning his comfortable life, buying a boat and sailing around the world. I find dangling modifiers annoying in general but especially when I read a book by someone who claims to be a nerd; but that's a minor gripe. Glenn didn't go around the world, after all, but he did invest a lot of time and money in fixing the boat and actually sailing it. As opposed to another reviewer here, I didn't find Glenn total This is a fast paced, easy read about a self-proclaimed nerd who decided "to become" by abandoning his comfortable life, buying a boat and sailing around the world. I find dangling modifiers annoying in general but especially when I read a book by someone who claims to be a nerd; but that's a minor gripe. Glenn didn't go around the world, after all, but he did invest a lot of time and money in fixing the boat and actually sailing it. As opposed to another reviewer here, I didn't find Glenn totally unlikeable but I did feel like shaking him sometimes while reading the book; he is fairly self-centered and has troubles asserting himself at the same time. He's so focused on rich kids who grew up sailing their Daddy's boats and women who keep rejecting him that he hardly notices anything else. Still, sailing that boat single-handedly and even learning to handle it is not a small achievement. Maybe one day Glenn will actually love sailing itself - and do stuff in his life because he enjoys it, not because it's supposed to prove something to others and himself.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    I read this for the second time ( read it years ago) at the urging of my husband who loves this book. The author isn’t a terrible writer and begins relatively strong, however, about half way through I began to doubt the truth of what he was telling- taking some liberties to get the reader to create drama? Also, I got tired of his whining about being “fat”, a “nerd” and rejected by attractive women. Sorry but maybe you need to stop blaming the women and work on yourself. At any rate, he gives a l I read this for the second time ( read it years ago) at the urging of my husband who loves this book. The author isn’t a terrible writer and begins relatively strong, however, about half way through I began to doubt the truth of what he was telling- taking some liberties to get the reader to create drama? Also, I got tired of his whining about being “fat”, a “nerd” and rejected by attractive women. Sorry but maybe you need to stop blaming the women and work on yourself. At any rate, he gives a lot of details about sailing that true sailors would enjoy, and for non-sailors, the storyline is somewhat intriguing and will keep you going to a point. It’s a story of a guy who sets out to do something that is way out of his reach, uses determination and pure luck to achieve a small portion of it, and then changes his mind. Not unlike many of us, to a lesser degree, I suppose.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    3.5 stars actually. This was a quick read but held my interest throughout. For me, its strength lies in the author's honesty in relating his personal feelings, motivations and behavior (and maintaining a sense of humor). Also, I have to admire the guy for going so far out of his comfort zone and undertaking such an ambitious project.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    The story was really compelling. The parts about sailing were detailed and great. I initially wondered why he was including the bits about his romantic life, but I also found myself wondering why he omitted detail for certain romantic encounters.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    This book had me from the first chapter and I honestly couldn't put it down. It was the first, non-technical book I've read and finished - cover to cover - in years. I even loaded it on an old Kindle DX (the super large one) and turned the font size way up and read a couple chapters while running on the treadmill. I have never wanted to read while running on a treadmill. Ever. But I really couldn't put this book down. Two, (of the many things) that I really loved about this book was the reminder This book had me from the first chapter and I honestly couldn't put it down. It was the first, non-technical book I've read and finished - cover to cover - in years. I even loaded it on an old Kindle DX (the super large one) and turned the font size way up and read a couple chapters while running on the treadmill. I have never wanted to read while running on a treadmill. Ever. But I really couldn't put this book down. Two, (of the many things) that I really loved about this book was the reminder that "You and your actions determine what becomes real…" and that Glenn Damato is the embodiment of what Steve Jobs was talking about in his 2005 commencement address to Stanford (google it, it's awesome). I live in Minnesota, and although we have a lot of lakes, I'm about as far from sailing around the world as I can get. But I also share that dream. I was in the Navy and went topside at night while in the Indian Ocean and saw the universe explode with stars. Glenn explains it so much better (than I can) in his book. He took me back to that night that I saw so many stars I couldn't believe what I was seeing. As he described it, you could "feel" the stars… Just amazing…and I wanted to be there all over again. It's my dream to do what Glenn did and he reminded me that it's all about the actions you take. Never settle. That was something Steve talked about in his speech. Glenn was not born into a sailing family. He had no sailing experience. But he had a dream and he wasn't going to settle for quietly working away at a job and thinking about all the reasons why following that dream wasn't practical. Glenn didn't settle for letting the dream drift away on the tides and reading his story will inspire you to never settle. There was something else in the book that Glenn didn't settle for - and I really, really admire his honesty and his character. Some guys would have treated Megan differently. You'll have to read the book to see what I'm talking about…but there's point at with it would have been easier to go with the flow and not be honest. We've all been there… (probably). Anyway, good on ya Glenn for being a man and doing the honest thing. "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something." - Steve Jobs Glenn changed something. How many of us are working in a job that, if it was the last day of our life, we would want to go do that job..? Sorry, not me. I know there are practical issues and I just can't quit my job tomorrow and be sailing next week…but I've got to work harder towards that goal. Because sooner or later, it's going to be my last day. "Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." - Steve Jobs Glenn had the guts to get out there and do it. He saw that there was no reason to not follow his heart. We can learn so much from this... Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jim Trefethen

    This is an interesting book in any ways. It is written by an antihero whose obsessive wallowing in self loathing and extreme lack of self esteem would become tedious if it weren't for his honesty and trust in the reader's understanding. It is the story of a midlife crisis in overdrive that compels our author to dump his underachiever job, abandon his pathetic attempts to find a fashion-model girlfriend (He is a self-admitted fat slob, but nothing less than a centerfold partner will do), and chan This is an interesting book in any ways. It is written by an antihero whose obsessive wallowing in self loathing and extreme lack of self esteem would become tedious if it weren't for his honesty and trust in the reader's understanding. It is the story of a midlife crisis in overdrive that compels our author to dump his underachiever job, abandon his pathetic attempts to find a fashion-model girlfriend (He is a self-admitted fat slob, but nothing less than a centerfold partner will do), and change his life by buying a boat and sailing around the world. Damato starts his sailing adventure on the wrong foot, and events quickly go downhill from there. A dominating yacht broker browbeats him into buying a derelict of a boat. As crew he takes on a mean-spirited shrew who dominates the boat and forces him to do everything her way, which includes taking on two more female crew. The three fishwives make Damato's life hell all the way to Mexico where they abandon him to his own limited devices. Here he wakes up to the realization that his old loser life wasn't that bad after all, and he honestly misses the Sunday paper, his flatscreen TV, and his overpriced Starbucks coffee. The last straw is the presence of horrible wiggly insects on the vegetables at the local open-air market. I'll stop here so I won't spoil the unsurprising ending. In spite of the author's bad self image, I ended up liking the guy just for the honest way he confronts his demons in this book. I know a bit about sailing away on a sailboat, and Damato takes every step in the wrong direction. He does so many things wrong that it is difficult to find a single thing he does right, except give it up and go home. This book should be read by everyone who thinks that they want to sail away in a boat. Ocean cruising is a wonderful life but dreams can so easily turn into disaster when the transition from shoreside life to life on a boat isn't done with careful planning.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    The first thing I did when I finished this book? Look to see if anyone needed inexperienced crew for the Baja Ha Ha, which I'd never heard of before reading this and I live 2000 miles away. Unfortunately, no one did, which is probably just as well--I've only sailed once in my life and have a tendency to get airsick. But the book is so good that, even with all Damato's problems at sea, his love of being on the water (and of being in control) shines through and is an inspiration. It's a thoroughly The first thing I did when I finished this book? Look to see if anyone needed inexperienced crew for the Baja Ha Ha, which I'd never heard of before reading this and I live 2000 miles away. Unfortunately, no one did, which is probably just as well--I've only sailed once in my life and have a tendency to get airsick. But the book is so good that, even with all Damato's problems at sea, his love of being on the water (and of being in control) shines through and is an inspiration. It's a thoroughly enjoyable book. It reads like a very honest account of his life and adventures up to and on the water in his very own 40' or so sailboat. Part of me wants to shake his hand, give him a hug, for doing what very few of us do--follow our dreams. Another part of me wants to hit him upside the head, shake him, and say, "Of course you have women issues, you hypocrite, and stop putting yourself down." Which, of course, just makes him human, like all the rest of us. This is a true accounting (I assume), which means he's a package deal and not an All-American, blond, blue-eyed football hero. Or even tall, dark, and handsome. He's just a (mostly) self-aware man who follows his dream, and that's enough for now. If you've ever wondered what it's like to sail on a long voyage, this is a book you need to read. From overflowing compost toilets to soggy beds for days on end to broken engines, his experiences will give you a baseline in "how to go wrong." Forever after, you'll be able to say, "Well, at least it's not as bad as..." But unless you've been there, you'll also miss the glorious nights at sea, the sunsets, and the peace. A little overflowing toilet is a small price to pay for that.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Wilhelmina

    The account of a person in the computer industry who tries to ditch it all, and sail around the world..........one of the themes in his book is the fact that he is short, fat, and can't find a life partner. No wonder, he is also obnoxious and very easy to dislike. He has no respect for anyone, and it is no wonder that his crew ditched him near Mexico and he could not find anyone to help him sail his boat back to the States, with the inevitable conclusion of what happens to one when they have unr The account of a person in the computer industry who tries to ditch it all, and sail around the world..........one of the themes in his book is the fact that he is short, fat, and can't find a life partner. No wonder, he is also obnoxious and very easy to dislike. He has no respect for anyone, and it is no wonder that his crew ditched him near Mexico and he could not find anyone to help him sail his boat back to the States, with the inevitable conclusion of what happens to one when they have unrealistic dreams, unrealistic planning, and unrealistic funds for sailing around the world. Although fairly interesting, but the author depicts himself as person who is not well liked, and I concur with his conclusion. Alright.......I did read this book again this past summer, and found it so much more enjoyable. This was actually a well written book, perhaps one of those books I have to read more than once to really appreciate. I also went to the website, and found out so much more about the trip, the sailboat.....and felt much more connected to the book and the adventures of Glenn Damato the second time around.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    I really liked this book, didn't love it but really liked it. I found Glenn honest, open and brave. Not afraid to expose himself warts and all and the warts of others which may offend some because of his choice of words but honest none the less. I too am a "older" fellow just learning to sail with a lot of the same doubts and fears Glenn wrote about. Glenn, let me say this, I never had the problems that you described you had in my social life. Quite the opposite. That said though I did have othe I really liked this book, didn't love it but really liked it. I found Glenn honest, open and brave. Not afraid to expose himself warts and all and the warts of others which may offend some because of his choice of words but honest none the less. I too am a "older" fellow just learning to sail with a lot of the same doubts and fears Glenn wrote about. Glenn, let me say this, I never had the problems that you described you had in my social life. Quite the opposite. That said though I did have other problems that stopped me from doing the things in life that I wanted to do. I guess this is a letter more to Glenn then a review of his book. Or it is the residual of his book and how it made me feel about myself. If a book makes you consider any part of your own life then it is an asset. Thanks Glenn, Fair winds

  12. 5 out of 5

    Craig Bowman

    I wasn't bored while reading it but I was shocked to find that after all of his talking about sailing around the world to become something more than just a "fat single lonely nerd" (his words), that he really just joins one sailing rally to Mexico with 150 other boat, then calls it quits and sells his boat. Not a very satisfying end to the book. Especially after all the time in the book explaining how much work he did to get the boat ready to circumnavigate. His writing style is good but the sto I wasn't bored while reading it but I was shocked to find that after all of his talking about sailing around the world to become something more than just a "fat single lonely nerd" (his words), that he really just joins one sailing rally to Mexico with 150 other boat, then calls it quits and sells his boat. Not a very satisfying end to the book. Especially after all the time in the book explaining how much work he did to get the boat ready to circumnavigate. His writing style is good but the story told is not that satisfying or rewarding to the reader who hopes to read about far flung places in the world.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Mccarthy

    Bravo to Glenn to follow his desire to leave corporate life behind and undertake a sailing adventure. You definitely feel his trials and tribulations as a novice boat owner. You will wince in pain as Murphy's law abounds as Glenn tries to get his boat ready and searches for a crew to help him. The female crew members certainly are a cruel pair and I kept hoping they may become lost at sea! Only criticism I had was Glenn's tendency to dwell on his physical appearance and difficulty meeting women. Bravo to Glenn to follow his desire to leave corporate life behind and undertake a sailing adventure. You definitely feel his trials and tribulations as a novice boat owner. You will wince in pain as Murphy's law abounds as Glenn tries to get his boat ready and searches for a crew to help him. The female crew members certainly are a cruel pair and I kept hoping they may become lost at sea! Only criticism I had was Glenn's tendency to dwell on his physical appearance and difficulty meeting women. Not sure I would venture out for an extended sail after reading this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nate Hall

    Glenn Damato falls into a rare category :insane with a brain. Imagine a computer nerd with a life long obsession to sail around the world and no experience with sailing. Add to that a gifted writer with a sense of humor (humor that comes out stronger the worse things get) and this book is is the natural outcome. I recommend this read to anybody with some crazy dream so as to knock some sense into them about how things ACTUALLY happen in the world!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paul Watson

    A thoroughly enjoyable narrative that rocked along at a nice pace. With similar adventures in mind, I was totally caught up in the story and sympathised with Glenn with every roll of the deck! It certainly warns of the pitfalls (especially crew - I'd have keel-hauled them long before!). With luck, he will have more tales to tell on his return to the sea, shortly! I look forward to it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    At one level this is a cautionary tale about what can go wrong buying a used boat and preparing to sail around the world. On another level, however, this is about finding yourself, what it means to share a confined space with others, and what it means to be "free." Quite apart from that, I will never buy a composting toilet for a sailboat.

  17. 4 out of 5

    m jones

    Real being a sailor and having read many traditional cruising stories, Glen Damato gives a refreshing, honest, hilarious account of the realities of boat ownership and cruising, including how people react in difficult and trying times. must read for anyone who sails or dreams of the cruising life

  18. 4 out of 5

    Judson Crump

    This is the CURE for anyone who thinks they want to buy a cruiser and sail the world. Good book, solid storytelling, not what you expect from a sailing memoir. It's really not a sailing memoir as much as a boat-problems memoir, but it is very realistic.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Linus Wilson

    This is the honest story of a man who dreams of circumnavigating the world and his dreams don't match the reality. You can learn more from failures than successes in this well written story. A must read for any armchair sailor.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Corey

    I would rate this one 3.5 if possible. I loved the adventure and danger, but I hated the ending. After all that to just give up and go home? What? Still, it was a fun book that provided an insider's look at the world of sailing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brian Newell

    I enjoyed this book because I could relate somewhat to the author. He did coming across as having a bit of a chip on his shoulder but I think he was self-aware and his self-deprecating humor made it tolerable. It's a good story for folks who dream of pursuing a great sailing adventure.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susie

    I loved it! This is one mans account of his quest to become…. Doing so by buying a sailing boat, fitting her out, making her seaworthy, finding crew and sailing of into the wild blue water. It is REAL, honest, funny, heartwarming,heart wrenching, informative and captivating. An excellent read :-)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Bit of an abrupt ending, but overall quite entertaining for me as a sailor.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gregg Barton

    Great Escape! An excellent read for middle aged watermen, who grew up reading The Dove. Thank you Glenn, your book brought back a lot of memories and ideas for new adventure!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Hmmm..ok. Another story of someone sailing off into the sunset but this one didn't work out as well as most.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Russell

    A great read to learn how not to do it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mark Stolz

    This was a fast moving and great book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura Hevron

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Chrysler

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