A sailing kid...

A sailing kid...

You don't often stop to think about how your childhood shapes the adult you become, but this week a post went live in our social media with this photo of me on a yacht in Fiji at 7 years of age.

How does a suburban kid from Australia end up on a yacht in Fiji.... well that is a story in itself.  My dad's sister (Aunty Jane) had met and married an intrepid surfer guy (Uncle Mick) who was sailing around the Pacific Islands on a yacht that he and a bunch of his mates had built in Perth, Western Australia.  These guys had taken turns going out to work in the outback mines to earn money for the boat, while the others labored away, building the boat itself.  Here is the beautiful cutter rigged yacht they built,  she looks amazing under full sail, as you can see that boat build was no small undertaking.... her name was Alias.

That was a pretty unknown crazy adventurous thing to do back in the early 1970's, but then my Uncle Mick was one of those early intrepid adventurer's who travelled the world always looking the next adventure.  Here he is on Jeffreys Bay beach in South Africa in 1969, sometime before I was even born.

What's so special about that?  Well 25 years later I got a job with Billabong South Africa and lived in a house overlooking this exact beach for 4 years.  Here is a photo I took from my balcony, you can see its the same rocky beach.  Jeffreys Bay is one of the worlds most famous surf breaks.

I met my own surfer boy husband there and we actually got married up on the sand dunes overlooking this very beach.  Here is a photo of our wedding day below.... the waves were BIG and perfect the day we got married.  Justin had surfed all morning and rushed home to get himself ready in time to get married.  In this photo a BIG set of waves has just been through and the beach was awash.  


So after that trip to Fiji to visit my Aunty & Uncle on their boat in Fiji, my dad came home obsessing over buying a boat.  He bought a little trailer sailor and we spent every weekend sailing, racing, exploring the local lakes & rivers.  Here I am steering the boat, gotta love those sunglasses!

A few years in a row, my parents took us kids out of school for 3 months over the winter months, and we drove for 3 days up to the northern coast of Australia, where they launched the boat and we sailed around the islands.  Here we are with our dinghy and dog Cindy.  A fellow sailor had made us these hats out of a palm frond "for a smile".

Our boat was only a tiny little 25 footer, and life onboard was a little squishy.  Mum, Dad, my sister Cristi, myself, the dog Cindy and a budgie called Pretty Boy.  Here we are with Pretty Boy....

This photo below is of my sister Cristi and I playing in the park at Airlie Beach.  I believe this same area now has an enormous pool and play area for the kids, because as you can see, when the tide is out the shoreline is muddy and rocky (not a very swim friendly beach)....

This photo is of me rowing the dinghy ashore in the early morning to take Cindy for a run on the beach.... Mum's photo album says that this was in Marcona Inlet in the Whitsunday Islands.

So fast forward a whole lot of years, and after I had met my surfer boy husband on the beach in Jeffreys Bay, we set sail on our own adventure to sail across the Atlantic Ocean from South Africa to the Caribbean.  Here is my daughter Maya (who is now 15) standing on the dock in front of some Caribbean trader.  That is what they call the boats that sail between the islands, taking passengers and freight.  Take a good look at the freight on the bow of this trader.... yes its a cow.

So I know that my childhood adventures have surely shaped my life.... I wonder what adventures Miss Maya will want to get up to after her early intrepid start.  I love this photo of Maya taken in the ruins of a building in St.Pierre, Martinique.... that's our boat framed in the doorway.

I love this little video of our little family having snacks on the dock in Pierre.  St.Martinique.


One love x


P.S.  Thank you Shawn for your comment below.  No in the first photo, I am holding my Aunty Jane's kitten they called Roti (after the Indian food in Fiji).  Here is a photo of myself and my sister holding our scruffy boat dog, Cindy.... oh and Cindy is also in the photo of us wearing our palm frond hats above.

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Fabulous adventure for a family growing together every life learning day!


Thanks for sharing a great story. Minor question, is that a cat or dog you are holding in the first picture, wondering if this is Cindy?

Shawn McLaughlin

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