Nik and Jenn on the bow off Mayaguana, BahamasNik and Jenn on the bow off Mayaguana, Bahamas

“A Sailing Adventure Across 40,000 Nautical Miles” over a 17-year span, chronicles the adventures of Jennifer Smith and her husband Alex Nikolajevich (Nik) after they have sold their car in Vancouver and backed their boat out of Coal Harbour. They had willfully severed their land life – was it reckless? Did they know what they were in for? With seasickness overcoming Nik just three days into their dream, all Jennifer wanted to do was to “undo all of this…. To reverse the hundreds of decisions we’d made that had brought us here to this heaving patch of ocean to these towering seas, to the forty-knot winds rushing us south.” They hadn’t left the coast yet and were enduring a 7-day trip to San Francisco with gale force winds which was not predicted.

As a child, Jennifer had grown up with the legacy of adventurers and travellers who had left their steamer trunks in the basement. She loved the idea of simplifying life down to the contents of a trunk. The corporate world, to which they both belonged, was a rat race of making more money to buy more things, but no TIME to enjoy them. The only solution was to earn enough money to quit their jobs, sell everything, buy the 42’ boat to sail to Australia and then figure it out from there. The only glitch was that Nik loved the cruising lifestyle, but didn’t like going to sea.

These first crucial steps were essential to learn how to be a cruiser:

• Always give assistance when asked, as sometime later you will need assistance.

• When someone comes alongside in a dinghy, invite them aboard and offer them refreshment.

• Everyone you meet will be a stranger, but you will form bonds that will last a lifetime.

• Find out if entertaining guests offshore is a good idea – entertaining them onshore is easy.

Crossing Singapore StraitGreen Ghost, crossing Singapore Strait, the busiest shipping lane in the world, like trying to cross the 401 as a pedestrian

Everything consists of “getting ready”, which was exhausting, to finally “go”. However, what they found out is that you are always in a tiring state of “getting ready” because of maintenance, mechanical failures, or system improvements…and then you had to cross an expanse of blue water. The drill is always the same; official paperwork for arrival at a new destination, maintenance, fuel, water, purchasing and storing food, wait for the right weather window, and then “go”.

Jenn in the Dinghy with Nurse Shark

 

Jenn in the dinghy with nurse shark, off Warderick Wells, Bahamas

It is hard to keep things in perspective when you are cruising – to remember how wonderful it is. When you get caught-up in the rat race (to earn more money to cruise), you might forget about the feeling of wonder, freedom and the urge to come back to it. All this went through their minds when they dry-docked Green Ghost in Australia for 5 years and returned to Toronto to work. As the years ticked by, had they lost sight of their dream? Although offshore sailing takes its toll, dry docking can cause even more maintenance…. And it did, presenting a long list of repairs and upgrades that had to be accomplished before they set out again to go over the top of Australia.

Rounding the Cape of Good HopeGeographically Significant - Rounding the Cape of Good Hope

Work completed, they set sail again for Indonesia. With conditions ripe for lightning strikes, they realized that their oven was a perfect Faraday cage for all their electronics. A few days later, electronics forgotten, Jennifer turned on the oven…… yup, safe from electrical storms maybe, but certainly not safe form her!

Leaving the Indian Ocean meant rounding the Cape of Good Hope which was no small feat with its notorious windy conditions. Waiting for your weather window could be frustrating. But crossing the kinder, smaller Atlantic would be easier – wouldn’t it? Were the unforeseen challenges of blue water cruising starting to outnumber the joys?

Three and a half years later, with many more adventures and mishaps behind them, they laid anchor in Burlington, Ontario, their new home. Today, Green Ghost calls Penetanguishene home, and Jennifer and Nik are looking forward to cruising the stunning waters of the North Channel. They had chosen their path in life and set out with a dream to sail to Australia. They made it, and figured out the rest from there!

Released in June 2020, Green Ghost, Blue Ocean is available at the Nautical Mind, Indigo and Amazon.

Green Ghost - Blue Ocean book cover
Cover

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