Written by Cheryl and John Ellsworth
Oyster 56 Sea Mist
Selling Sea Mist, our home for the last 11 years, is the gateway event to our next stage of life as we roll into our 70s. These past 11 years have been remarkably great for my wife and me in so many ways, all enabled by our having a yacht that gave us the qualities of a home of similar calibre to homes we were accustomed to through the years of living on land. We thought we would take a moment and reflect on these years.
As my later years of work-life advanced, we knew that I would be forced to retire aged 60 due to mandatory requirements in the organisation where I worked. That certainty enabled us to evaluate retirement options with a firm date in mind and, due to our shared experiences on business trips and vacations to various parts of the world during my working years, we readily narrowed in and focused on a life of sailing the waters of the world and experiencing its varied cultures and other features. We did not enter into this path with an objective of circumnavigation but rather the aim to create a viable and attractive retirement life through sailing in waters of the world and, if circumnavigation should happen as a by-product, so be it. We set out from the beginning with the aim of spending the ten years through our 60s in this life, and then, for our 70s, return to land and establish a land home under the cover of socialised medicine in Canada. As we well knew that later years’ health issues might command our path by then."
"Selection of our bluewater yacht
With that interval clearly in our minds, we sold our expansive home in the New York area three years before retirement and moved into a small apartment that would condition us to less space, less ‘stuff’, and closer physical proximity to each other. With the house sale proceeds in hand, we then focused on selecting a yacht in which we would make a substantial investment, to give us the quality of life characteristics and sailing enjoyment/performance that were essential to our shared retirement dream. We had two previous sailing boats that gave us some degree of calibration of what we wanted. We looked at many bluewater makes of yachts, within which Oyster became our benchmark reference. We ultimately made the purchase decision on an Oyster 56 more than two years before retirement but with the build/delivery timing set for my retirement date in 2005. We knew that ‘the extras’ that we wanted to build into whatever would be our choice of boat amounted to over £250,000. The decision of an Oyster made that substantial add-on list more warranted given the value/cost of the base model build. Of course, none of the other bluewater yachts that we considered came even close to the base build quality and features inherent in the Oyster. And the Oyster 56 build gave us confidence that the two of us could short-handed manage the boat alone even if, on the odd occasion, we might have the benefit of family or friends as additional crew. "
After sailing away from Ipswich at the end of September 2005, we spent the next 3.5 years exploring every corner of the Mediterranean. These early years connected us with the wonderful life in the company of other cruisers from all over the world… the most valuable aspect of our life in sailing wherein friendships and shared experiences built then will be carried as treasures for the rest of our days. We were fortunate in our timing as we were then able to sail to the Eastern Med and experience many ancient sites of civilisation in countries which would not be possible in present day. We voyaged from all the oft-travelled southern European countries to the northern limits of Croatian waters and took in Trieste’s Roman Amphitheatre and then marvelled at what Venice had to offer before then heading south and east to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. By the end of 2008, we set off across the Atlantic from the Canaries, a crossing all on our own, not as part of a rally. This crossing once again proved to us that our yacht selection was a wise choice as we averaged 192nm per day arriving in the Caribbean 13.5 days after departure. This passage reminds us of our 210nm per day gull-winged passage from Vanuatu to Bundaberg, Australia, a distance of 1050nm in five days without having to even turn on the Perkins propulsion. For sure, Sea Mist is known among our cruising friends as a yacht that likes to go FAST while being so very comfortable and controllable.
From the Caribbean, we ventured north to Bermuda and cruised the north-east of the USA and into Canadian waters right to the beaches on which I grew up and had the pleasure of reacquainting with friends of old, hosting them for enjoyable times onboard Sea Mist. We returned to the Caribbean via Boston, New York, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Annapolis and the Chesapeake. In early 2010, we headed out across the Pacific where we enjoyed marvellous, leisurely times over those next few years in the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
While in Malaysia, we moored Sea Mist at an extremely safe marina and used our home on water to venture by air travel into the countries of Asia and South-East Asia. For instance, we would put together a month long trip to China and then return to Sea Mist to recuperate and assemble the next air travel adventure to Vietnam for a month and so on. We knew we would not likely ever again have the opportunity to explore this part of the world so we wanted to take full advantage of it while our home’s location was enabling us to live and ‘locally’ travel in this region."
After years of extensive sailing distances, the years of 2013-2016 had us do very little distance but these times and experiences very much fulfilled our dream of ‘Retirement… The way it should be!’ …living the rich life enabled through a floating home on the waters of the world. Much of our time in these years followed the pattern we had established early on… living independently, anchored in wonderful bays and off white sand beaches with all the allure and possibilities of hiking, restaurants, provisioning etc. only a short dinghy ride away. And all this in the company of great cruising friends to join together for sundowners, beach bonfires and day trips to other features of these countries. We have been so fortunate to have these past 11 years but it is now past our timeline to return to land and build our next home in Eastern Canada. In some ways it is sad to part with Sea Mist as she has provided such a rewarding retirement to date, but, at the same time, we knew from the outset that the time would come and we would have to move on….even if we have stretched the timeline beyond the ten years that we had initially set as the end date to have Sea Mist sold to new owners to continue the bluewater life.
"A few of our best memories
Above all else, the cruising friendships we have built and will forever cherish and continue those rich connections.
Life underwater beyond our greatest expectations – colourful, vibrant, reefs with every variety of coral and teaming with so many living species including the most memorable, close-proximity encounters of swimming with varieties of sharks, most exceptional of all being Fakarava South in the Tuamotus; snorkelling at 9am each morning with so many manta rays in the lagoon anchorage of Mapiti in the Society Islands; trying to alight from our dinghy without stepping on the abundance of rays covering the bottom at Stingray City off Moorea.
Swimming – just jumping off the sugar-scoop swim platform as many times in a day as wanted to cool off or exercise (or just to do the often needed cleaning of the waterline scum)."
"Peoples/Cultures – the sincere helpfulness of many of the Turks; the warmth and welcoming of the most friendly Indonesians on the small islands as they welcomed us into their villages/communities and their homes; the Bula-Bula greetings of Fijians; the gestures in greetings of the Thais; the reception of being taken in by a family on Palmerston Atoll as they ‘adopted’ us for our time with them and made us part of their family; the ‘story-telling’ dance performances of the Tahitians; the gaining of each Vanuatu Chief’s permission to anchor at any island through offering of kava root at a welcoming reception ceremony; the friendliness of Aussies and their frequent BBQs; being invited to join with the locals at a circumcision ceremony on the Island of Tanna; witnessing the Reconciliation Ceremony of Vanuatians and Samoans on the island of Anelghowhat; shopping in the Souks in the ancient city of Fez, Morocco.
Mother Nature’s Endowments – the grandeur of New Zealand’s South Island; the ‘Sapphire Gin Colour’ in the waters of Hanamoenoa Bay, Tahuata, Marquesas; standing on the precipice of Mount Yasur, watching in awe as the Tanna Islands very active volcano spewed out rocks big and small; the sunsets including several ‘green flashes’ off Dominica; the rich lushness of the Lebanese forests; the cliffs and rock formations of the Marquesas; the orangutans of Borneo; the humpback whales swimming next to Sea Mist moored off Niue; the caves of Gibraltar/Bermuda and the hongs off Thailand’s south coast.
Quite simply… for you to enjoy Sea Mist and the life she can enable for you a continuance of the richness of what she provided us. We have performed all of the major maintenance before offering her for sale so that you may get on with your life without needing to think of any refit or major work being required. We decided that we were already overdue on our timeline to migrate to life on land and therefore shipped Sea Mist from Phuket, Thailand to Flushing, Netherlands in March/April 2016 so that she would arrive back at home base in Ipswich in perfect condition. Our last sail across the North Sea from Breskens Marina to Ipswich under blue sky and warm sun will be remembered as our last final unique experience, before encountering the realities of the British ‘spring’ weather.
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