I was born in Guernsey and learned to sail there amongst ubiquitous rocks, a tidal range of 10m and currents of 5 knots. Oh, and not forgetting prevailing Westerlies driving seas from the Americas and English weather with a springtime proclivity to “pea soup” fog!
After all that, I have found sailing in most other places relatively easy.
I sailed competitively at school, partly as a means of avoiding playing cricket. Then, after university and 9 years of wearing a suit, I’d had enough and bought a Malo 34 sailing yacht called Oleana ("Fools' Paradise" in Norwegian) to set sail around the world. Before I left I did my Yachtmaster Ocean including celestial navigation. I was totally reliant on my sextant as GPS was new and very expensive.
En route, I spent a few months in Tortola, BVI, skippering a 50ft Beneteau, which was contracted to a sailing school in the USA. This was my first experience of teaching sailing, although more often it seemed an exercise in marriage counselling!
I had met Monique some 5 years before I set sail and when we jointly agreed a plan that we would sail together from Tahiti to Sydney, there were no expectations of her, in terms of sailing, watchkeeping etc. I had already sailed across the Pacific, singlehanded, and I was quite happy to continue in the same vein. Long story short, after an incredible 18 months sailing together, we arrived in Sydney, Monique was 8 months pregnant and we were completely broke.
We continued to live aboard Oleana, now with a baby boy, Benjamin. I worked as a sailing instructor & ended up running the sailing school, responsible for the safety of six J24s and a program of racing courses feeding new blood into the CYCA, home of the Sydney – Hobart yacht race.
Fast forward 20 years, Monique and I had two beautiful children, Ben and Tilly, who had successfully graduated from school and university and were heading to Europe. I’d paid mortgages and school fees throughout, courtesy of a career in finance. And Monique and I were looking for a new adventure.
To get me back into the swing of things, I did a 5 month stint project managing the refit of a 90ft motor yacht in Fort Lauderdale. Not a fan of grey skies and with good Spanish up my sleeve, we made the decision to move to Mallorca where Lady Jomo found us. We bought her with a view to sharing all our experiences with likeminded adventurers and to once again set sail around the world. This time we’re going to make it all the way.
Meet Monique alias Mon and Mo !!
I must have been mad to decide to sail to Sydney with Jo. Ignorance is bliss, or love is blind? I had very little sailing experience but it wasn’t long before I felt confident and understood the ground rules.
I am by nature peripatetic spending my childhood in Kenya, Cyprus & Germany. I continued to travel extensively with work and lived in Hong Kong, South Africa, Australia and London with lots of stops in between.
Sailing with Jo was the first time I had travelled so slowly and by sea. Travel took on a whole new perspective, less frantic in some respects but a lot more in others.
I loved that I didn’t have to constantly pack and unpack and that my ‘home’ was always with me.
The places that Oleana took us to were incredible: Tonga, Fiji, Nuie, New Zealand, New Caledonia. Our “sea gypsy” years were some of the happiest.
Living on Sydney harbour on a 34ft boat with a baby was wonderful but eventually we had to move back on to terra firma and rejoin the rat race. For the next 12 years we spent weekends and holidays cruising until the children said “no more”! After that, Jo continued to race from Middle harbour and the CYC and I returned to my first love, horses, with our daughter Tilly. After 22 years in Sydney I was ready to return to Europe to see more of my family and old friends.
Finding myself living on a boat again (albeit a much bigger one) was not without its challenges. It's taken a few years to find my sea legs again but meditation and pilates help keep me mentally and physically strong and it’s also something I love to share with guests if they’re willing!
I’m discovering all the new digital platforms available now and learning how to fly things like drones! Being gluten free I'm experimenting with making bread as it was always something we loved to do on Oleana and I'm yet to crack the perfect loaf.
For me though the real joy is the people we meet along the way, fellow cruisers, locals and, best of all, our guests who bring with them different stories and aims. So, and I say this particularly to partners of sailors, whether it’s sailing, cooking, laundry, provisioning, passages or just the whole shebang that worries you, I'd love to welcome you aboard and show you how a reluctant sailor (but keen liveaboard) has done it for 30 years.