Monday, 29 October 2012

Cruising Sailors Dream Ten Years Sail

Here is the story of sailing couple Cedric and Janet Miller, to not only warm the heart of every aspiring cruiser, but to excite and ignite their own desire to push on with the planning of their own 'Adventure of a Lifetime'.

As Janet states herself you will 'never regret doing it!' which ties in with my own affirmation of getting on with your planning to head for the high seas.

This column comes from the Toronto Star:

 'At an age when many people their age were slowing down and dusting off an easy chair, Cedric and Janet Miller, recently married and just retired, spent $300,000 on a 42-ft. ocean-going yacht and set sail for their Sea of Dreams.

That was 10 years ago and, since then the Canadian couple from Oakville, Ontario have made their way from Sweden, where they picked up their custom-built sailboat, to the Caribbean island of Curacao, where Trillium Wind awaits them for another winter of adventure.

Trillium Wind on Passage, Norway to Shetland Islands

They’ve spent three-to-five months a year at sea, and Cedric, 74 and Janet, 66, believe they have another two or three years of cruising left. Then they plan to trade in their wandering life for winters in Myrtle Beach.

“We are very lucky to have been able to do this,” says Cedric. “The places we’ve seen and the people we’ve met have been amazing.”

If luxury living is a state of mind, the richness of their experience would put them in the top tier.

The two have feasted on the simple pleasures of life at sea, from the ancient and pleasingly elegant rituals that make boats move, to the joy of waking up in a deserted cove.

They have lived contentedly in a space the size of two big pickup trucks and endured the fear of violent storms and difficult ocean passages.

For an average cost of about $1,500 a month to live aboard and maintain their boat, they have seen and done things most people don’t experience.

They have travelled 10,000 seas miles at a leisurely pace, from the jagged fjords of Scandinavia to the secluded coves of the Greek islands. Following a trade wind crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, they have spent the past four years wandering through the Caribbean.

This year, they may visit Columbia and Panama.

The adventure began in 2000, when the two, each divorced with grown children, got married.

Janet had sold her share of a heavy equipment business and Cedric started easing into semi-retirement from his marine insurance brokerage.

Janet shelterting, rainy day in the Baltic 
Both had sailed on Lake Ontario for years. Cedric had been a member of several yacht clubs, including the Oakville Yacht Squadron, where he was Commodore in 2002. After exploring both sides of the lake, it was time to look further afield. “We both felt that we wanted more,” Cedric says.

They broadened their experience, helping friends move boats down the Intracoastal waterway to Florida and chartering boats in the Caribbean.

In 1997, Cedric joined the flotilla of boats that travelled to Newfoundland to celebrate the 500th anniversary of John Cabot’s landing.

They took an offshore sailing course to learn about tides, heavy weather sailing and ocean navigation.

Their adventures built up their confidence and were a test of whether they could live at close quarters for long periods.

In the end, they found the perfect boat while cruising in the Maritimes one summer with friends who had a 31-ft. boat built in Sweden by Comfort Yachts.

Negotiating a Scottish Lock
The Millers were impressed by the boat’s ability to handle rough weather and its comforts. They ordered a 42-ft. version in 2000, the year they married. They took delivery in July, 2002.

A 42-foot boat doesn’t offer the luxury of a super yacht — it’s more like camping at sea, Cedric says. But what you do get is luxurious in its simplicity and meticulous in craftsmanship. The interior is warmed by teak. There is heating, but no air-conditioning and three double berths. The master berth has an en suite toilet and walk-in shower. The couple spent $3,000 on a water-maker that makes eight gallons of fresh water an hour from seawater.

The galley has a gimballed stove and oven, so it swings and stays upright even when the boat is sailing on an angle. There is a fridge, hot and cold water and a double stainless steel sink all within easy reach of the folding teak dining table. This year, they added a TV, but not a microwave.

The navigation centre has a full size chart table and a complete complement of electronics, including a satellite phone, Global Positioning System (GPS) chart-plotter and radar. A powerful 55-horsepower engine drives the boat when there’s no wind, and, for ease of handling, the main sail rolls up inside the mast.

The plan was to bring Trillium Wind back to North America within two years, but after taking delivery of the boat and spending the first summer poking around the coasts of Sweden and Norway and some of the 500 islands in the Danish archipelago, the plan changed.

The Millers felt comfortable with their skill and quickly became members of the cruising fraternity, what Janet calls “a gypsy caravan afloat.” This network gave them access to the cruising community’s collective wisdom — the best anchorages, must-see sites, where to shop, and restaurants not to miss. Many doubts were laid to rest.

“We absolutely loved it,” Janet says. “It showed us, how much you really need to enjoy life, which is not that much. You realize that, at the end of the day, you don’t need millions.”

Cedric on long distance from Swedish phone booth
Friends joined them for parts of the journey, they tagged along with cruising groups for other parts, and, on others, went it alone. There have been bad times — a wretched 220-mile crossing of the North Sea from Norway to the Shetland Islands, when they almost turned around. Janet was knocked unconscious during a storm in the Bay of Biscay and probably needed stitches. But they couldn’t make port easily and so had to do with first aid. The cut healed on its own.

They visited The Shetland and Orkney islands, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Wales, the Channel Islands, Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar, Majorca, Malta, Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, Greece, Turkey, Israel, The Canaries, and they joined a flotilla across the Atlantic to St. Lucia.

“We thought we’d buy a boat and do the Caribbean,” says Cedric. “The sailing is secondary. It’s really about who you are with, sharing the experience.”

Here's what Janet has to say about their 'adventure of a lifetime':
Luxury living is a state of mind. Janet Miller sums up the experience of 10 years of cruising in Europe and now the Caribbean aboard Trillium Wind:

We sailed in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, then crossed the North Sea. All those wonderful places from stories and nursery rhymes: John O’ Groats in Scotland. We kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland. We saw Penzance in Cornwall. The pier in Portsmouth where I’d danced the night away as a teenager. Rally Portugal with 24 boats racing from Plymouth across the Bay of Biscay . . . how nuts was that?

Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, North Africa. So many places to see. Some bizarre, lots beautiful, all wonderful and interesting. Malta where not one clock agrees with the other. Through the Corinth Canal in Greece — who would have thought we would ever do that — to the Greek Islands. Delos was one of the most amazing, enchanting places you could ever hope to be. Rhodes. The Marble Lions of Naxos. Magical!

Memories, not always that big: Cobble stone roads, flower baskets, narrow streets, street vendors. Hundreds of goats on a tiny island with a tiny bay. One family lives there; they had laid moorings for sailors to tie up.

In Turkey, a parsley salad made by a man with a knife in a shed. It can’t be duplicated, no matter how hard we try. Sarcophagi, castles, fortresses and battlements. Sunsets, sunrises. Memories for our old age.

If you can do it, do it, you won’t regret it!'

Article courtesy Adam Mayers, Toronto Star, images courtesy Janet and Cedric Miller 

You can read much more about the cruising lifestyle and sailing the 'Adventure of a Lifetime' in my ebook 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' downloadable from my website 

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