Warning: This Book Will Change Your Life by Kelly Watts
I am beginning to think that books should carry warning labels, like cigarettes and alcohol. Several years ago, I bought a seemingly benign book for my depressed husband and after he read it, he announced that we should quit our jobs and sail around the world. Now that book – Tania Aebi’s Maiden Voyage – should come with a “Reader Beware” sticker. And if books need warnings, perhaps life should come with flashing lights and a siren because we actually did it. We quit our jobs, sold our house and set sail – but we weren’t sailors.
Hopping on a boat without any sailing experience may seem extreme, but Paul and I were facing an extreme situation: we couldn’t have children. While we had started down the predictable path of fertility treatments, we had also begun soul-searching. What was the meaning of our lives if we couldn’t have children to raise and love? How does one cope with infertility? After futile months of medical treatments, we swapped the (elusive) baby for a boat and traded our dreams of parenthood for the dream of sailing around the world.
It took us six months to sell our house, buy a boat, move our belongings into storage and quit our jobs. Five months later, after repairing and provisioning the boat, we sailed out of Charleston, SC, for the first leg of our around-the-world trip. We planned to complete our circumnavigation in two years; instead we spent four years going nearly the same distance but only halfway around the world. But sailing, as we learned, is like that.
On board our cruising sailboat Cherokee Rose we marveled at the beauty of our new environment. We admired the star-filled nighttime sky above us and the glittery, green trail of phosphorescence behind us as we sailed across the Pacific Ocean. We laughed at the playful sea lions that raced, dived and twirled like corkscrews behind our dinghy in the in the Galapagos Islands. We visited a black pearl farm in the Tuamotus and a bird sanctuary in the Cook Islands. We also discovered the hostility of life on the ocean as we fled from suspected pirates off the coast of Ecuador. We warded off a shark attack in Suwarrow. And, working as a team, we survived some of the worst gales in recent history off the coast of New Zealand, Panama and Kiribati. Throughout all of these experiences, Paul and I met and made lifelong friends, while becoming each other’s best friend.
As we pursued our dream of sailing around the world, we sailed north of Fiji to Tarawa, Kiribati, for a one-week’s stay. There, a chance meeting unexpectedly changed our lives forever. Days after arriving in Tarawa, Paul and I found ourselves being led to a small village where we first met our two-month-old daughter. Two days later, Jessica moved aboard the boat and became the third crew member on Cherokee Rose, turning our lives upside down. Or, finally, right-side up.
If I had to attach a label to Sailing to Jessica, what would it say? Warning: Following one dream may make another dream come true.
Kelly Watts moved to Australia a little over a year ago and just recently published her first book, Sailing to Jessica, the true story of her 4-year sailing adventure with her husband that took them nearly around the world…that is until they met their daughter on a remote Pacific Island. Prior to writing her book, Kelly has produced and/or written articles for magazines such as Blue Water Sailing and Better Homes and Gardens. She also had a weekly food column in a couple of Midwest newspapers for several years. Learn more and order your own copy of Sailing to Jessica here..
Contest: Is there a dream you’ve followed or are currently pursuing? It doesn’t have to be a radical dream like the author’s, but maybe it is finally going to Greece for a milestone birthday or losing 20 stubborn pounds. Share your dream in the comments through Friday, July 5th by 9 am EST. Two random dreamers will win copies of Sailing with Jessica (your choice of format) and we’ll announce the winners in the comments on 7/5.
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