Finally able to afford the yacht of their dreams, Jan and Ian Mitchell buy a forty foot steel yacht suitable to cruise the Southern Ocean.
This proves too big and heavy for the aging crew. Sadly, they sell her, resigning themselves to the idea that they will never sail to South America to explore the fiords of Southern Chile and round Cape Horn. In 2004, a rare find - a Brolga 33 is advertised for sale. They buy her and spend months making bringing the 1969 yacht back to standard for ocean cruising.
A circumnavigation of Tasmania in 2005 ends in chaos when Osprey A is dismasted in Bass Strait. Undaunted, the Mitchells have her repaired and in 2008, set out to explore New Caledonia and Vanuatu. They do not make it to Vanuatu, choosing instead to circumnavigate the main island of New Caledonia, Grande Terre.
The following year, they set off for the east coast of New Zealand, sailing into the Southern Ocean to visit Stewart Island, the third main island of New Zealand.In 2011/12 the Mitchells sail 400 nm into the Tasman to return to the island they love, Lord Howe. This time, they are accompanied by The Wild Goose, their elder son's yacht with the rest of the expanding family on board.
That voyage was the end of a cruising life for Jan. In 2013, Ian made one more voyage to Tasmania, accompanied by younger son, David as crew.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jan Mitchell was born in Invercargill, New Zealand. She grew up in South Canterbury, attending the University of Canterbury (BA) and Christchurch Teachers College (Dip Tchg) before doing two years of teaching at the Bay of Plenty in the North Island.
In January 1970, she moved to Sydney and in November 1971, Married Ian Mitchell, a Civil Engineer educated at Sydney University. Meanwhile, Jan was furthering her tertiary education with an MEd from the University of New South Wales while she worked at Macquarie University as a tutor. The couple were still dreaming of travel overseas when Ian received an insurance payout large enough to buy a small yacht.
Their choice was one of the newish fibreglass yachts developed in the late 1960s, a boat they called Caprice. In February 1974, they set off south around Australia and out into the Indian Ocean. For the next forty years, ocean cruising and two sons dominated their lives. Altogether, they owned six different yachts and had unrealised dreams of sailing to the fiords of Chile.
Now in their mid-seventies, Jan and Ian are grandparents to three grandchildren, and due to health issues, their cruising lives are over but far from forgotten.