Four years ago, I started making a variety of podcasts under the banner Boat Radio. While searching for interesting guests, I happened upon a blog about a boat called Ave de Mar and was immediately hooked on the lyrical writing of its author, John Herlig. I sent John an interview request and a few days later we recorded a podcast. In it, John talked with great enthusiasm about his life, his sailing and his boat: a 1967 Rawson cutter with a compelling pedigree. John had been a successful restaurateur in Washington DC but had given it up to pursue a simpler life, a life driven by curiosity; by delight in the small things. He had gone to great pains to restore Ave and to learn how to handle her.

John and I hit it off and the interview was one of my favourites of the many hundreds I’d conducted up until that point. A few months later, we attempted, with some success, to launch a podcast series focusing on John and the many fascinating characters he met on his travels through the Caribbean.

Postcards From Sea garnered thousands of listeners from all corners of the globe but it wasn’t quite right and I couldn’t put my finger on the reason why.

A couple of years later, long after Postcards From Sea had fallen prey to hurricanes and lesser horrors and inconveniences, it came to me… Or perhaps it came to John. I honestly cannot remember who came up with This Is Real Happiness. Most likely it was partly John and partly me. Either way, This Is Real Happiness is what we should have done in the first place because John’s life is not all about sailing, or restaurants, or learning the ukulele. It is about happiness. You see, John is, without exception, the happiest person I know and I want to find out why. I want to discover the secret so that I can replicate his happiness in my own life and in the lives of those I care about. And perhaps in your life too.

If we can learn to roller skate or drive a car or speak a foreign language then maybe we can learn to be happy too.

Maybe there’s method in John’s happiness; maybe happiness is a combination of skill and intention.

That’s what this podcast is. It is real happiness, exploded, examined and, where possible, explained.

It is my ardent hope that it helps you find real happiness. At the very least, it should bring a smile to your face. Hopefully it will do both.

One thing I’d like to make clear from the outset: we welcome your participation so please drop us a line. Oh, and there will be homework assignments.

Mike McDowall

June 2020