Will Pieti could teach us all a few things about how to live life to its fullest.

His adventurous spirit captivates everyone around him, leaving them in awe of his experiences and fantastic hobbies. Risk, outdoor sports, and mayhem are just a day in the life for Will. 

Pieti is a fisherman, a snowboarder, surfer and bicyclist. He races and tours motorcycles, and sleeps at sea alone on the open water. When retirement rolled around eight years ago, he didn’t miss a beat.

Pieti has no intention of slowing down—this is what his idea of retirement looks like.

Will Pieti is a collector of motorcycles, boats, surfboards, snowboards, bikes, and life experiences. Photo credit: Jessica Hamilton

“I was born in Detroit and grew up in Michigan,” says Pieti. “It was a pretty good city, a lot of good music came out of Detroit.” He grew up skiing in the Michigan mountains. In 1971 he took off to Aspen for more challenging slopes.

“The five years I lived in Aspen were probably the best five years of my life,” says Pieti. “It was so much fun in the early ’70s: sex, drugs, rock and roll, and skiing.” Pieti skied his heart out on the slopes while making a lucrative living as a union steamfitter. 

In 1976 he headed to Alaska to work on the pipeline. From there his career took him to sites all over the country. “I worked in heavy industrial construction, building refineries, power plants pulp mills – all the controversial stuff,” he says.

One of Pieti’s many surfboards. Photo credit: Jessica Hamilton

When he wasn’t building refineries, he was fishing in Sitka, Alaska every summer. After spending a year with his wife and infant son on a sailboat in Mexico, they headed back up north and settled in Anacortes. While looking for another avenue to make money, he decided to sell the sailboat and bought a fishing boat instead.

For the next 23 years, Pieti and his son spent their summers on the boat trolling for salmon. “I would start fishing down here [in Washington] on the coast in May and hopefully make enough money to get up to Alaska. Then I would spend July, August, September up in Alaska and get home at the end of September. I lived on the boat, and my kid grew up on it,” he says. 

“I miss spending my summers up there. It was pretty special. Wildlife everywhere, whales every day, humpbacks, greys. I even saw sperm whales and so many bears. It was a good time,” says Pieti.

One of Pieti’s five motorcycles he uses to spice up daily life with friends. Photo credit: Jessica Hamilton

When the whales weren’t taking off with his fishing gear, they created incredible photo opportunities with full breaches and memories to last a lifetime.

One day, Pieti saw a mother grizzly bear on the shore from the boat. She was at one end of the beach; her cubs were at the other, playing in the water. Another ship came in too closely with plans of docking on the beach. When the sow saw the skip coming between her and her cubs, she took off running towards them with all of her glorious mass. “It was unbelievable how she could run, and you could just see all this muscle and fur, and you could feel the earth vibrate when she ran,” says Pieti.

Pieti doesn’t let life pass him by. Photo credit: Jessica Hamilton

He misses the Alaskan wilderness, but his adventures are far from over. He currently lives in Fairhaven and stays busy in the winter, snowboarding on Mount Baker 40-50 times a year. 

“Motorcycles are my next craziness,” says Pieti. “I haven’t been without one since I was 15 years old.” He owns five motorcycles and repairs them in his kitchen.

After traveling around the U.S. racing competitively, he turned in his titles to have some fun. Now he races friends while making a weekend out of it several times a year.

Pieti built this boat by hand in his front yard and often sleeps on it by the light of the stars. Photo credit: Jessica Hamilton

When the time comes, Pieti and a group of eight others head out to the tracks. They camp out on the race grounds and race each other, reaching up to 150-160 miles an hour. “We call it gentleman’s racing,” he says. “We go as fast as we want on the track and compete against each other. Everything I do is right there on the edge.”

Summers are spent on the water or touring on his motorcycle through British Columbia and fishing in Nelson.

He built a 22-foot George Calkins bartender boat in his front yard. It’s a boat designed with two front ends and an outboard motor that he can pull into the hull. This way he can bank it anywhere. If the weather is nice he sleeps on deck, spending days fishing and nights drifting.

Pieti speaks of people he meets that are much younger than himself. They tell him they used to do some of the sports that he does, but stopped because of fear of breaking bones and being unable to work.

“That’s a bad way to look at life, man,” he says.  “You can’t go through life like that, thinking you’re going to enjoy it when you retire. You’ve got to enjoy life day by day.”

Right now, he’s surfing on Molokai Island for a month or so with his beach bum friends. “I’ll stay until my friends get sick of me,” he says.

It’s a rough life, but someone’s got to lead it.

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