Escaping the Recession By Boat

Anchored in an aqua lagoon, surrounded by a necklace of thin coral beach, the 32-foot cutter Saltbreaker has a tight below-decks cabin that smells like mildew, body odor, and, just now, a strip-mall dollar store. The space is a catastrophe of new T-shirts, cheap baseball hats, sunglasses, ballpoint pens, disposable lighters, aerosol string, flashlights, nylon rope, and four liters of Jack Daniel’s, the duty-free maximum.

“I heard you can get anything here for a bottle of Jack Daniel’s,” says Alex Kleeman, Saltbreaker’s 29-year-old co-skipper.

It’s a balmy afternoon in June 2012. Alex and his 27-year-old brother, Nick, are floating inside a sparsely populated atoll called Fakarava, part of the Tuamotu island group in French Polynesia. The plan is to trade this dime-store gear for food and supplies as they head west toward New Zealand, with stops at the Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga, and many places in between. Bourbon and aerosol string they’ve got, but they’re running low on things they can actually eat.

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