John grew up in Kenya where he had an exceptional childhood mainly living on a coffee plantation. His family moved to the UK when he was 15. However John found it difficult adjusting and so joined the Merchant Navy as a deck hand on Shell tankers. He worked up to position of Able Seaman while traveling, working and enjoying life all over the world for 6 years.
Jen grew up in Bermuda where she had a wonderful childhood too. Every weekend and holiday was spent on the water, playing, fishing, snorkeling and exploring as her Dad had several boats. Exploring the islands with her sister, barbeques on the rocks, gathering mussels and camping out on the boat are favourite memories for Jen from her childhood. When she was a teen she had friends that were a few years older who had built their own sailboats and had taken off to the Caribbean which sounded just wonderful to her. Jen went to college in the UK to study art and become a primary teacher.
John and Jen met in 1976 at her college while at a concert one evening. They had many things in common especially the love for the sea, travel and adventure. They were married and lived in Basingstoke while John attended Kingston College to complete a Marine Engineering course for his HND.
In 1980 they moved to Bermuda with their 2 children, Gavin 2 years old and Christina 11months. This was a wonderful, new life style working and living by the sea. They shared a common dream of sailing away together to explore and have adventures. Dreaming of being as stress free as possible enjoying a simple life. The family enjoyed years of boating, sailing, fishing, camping out on or with the boat and diving. The boating life style became major part of family life.
When John turned 50 they bought the Vixen, 39’ Morgan which happened to be a sloop that John had admired for many years. By that time their last child Kate was soon to fledge and the possibility of sailing away became their goal. John, Jen and all the family spent many weekends and holidays living aboard the Vixen, often it was with the whole family of 8.
They both got their Skippers/Captains papers in 2002 in Florida. This enabled them to charter and sail in BVI and twice in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In 2010 they sold the Vixen and bought Great Venture now named Aeesha. This is a Swahili girl’s name which means life or live.
It is finally time to live our dream.
A small boy heard the ocean roar,
There are secrets on my distant shore,
But beware my child, the ships bell’s wail,
Wait not to long to start to sail.
So quickly come and go the years,
And a young adult stands abeach with fears,
Come on, Come on the ocean cussed,
Time passes on. Oh sail you must.
Now its business in mid-aged prime,
And maybe tomorrow there will be time,
Now is too soon, its raining today,
Gone all gone-years are eaten away.
An old man looks, still feeling the lure,
Yet he’ll suffer the pain, than go for the cure,
The hair is white, the steps with care,
The tide has turned, he is aware.
So all too soon the secrets are buried,
Along with him and all regrets he carried,
And it’s not for the loss of secrets he cried,
But rather because he’d never tried.
The Swedish Ocean Sailing Club (OSK) once published the poem by an unknown poet.