Jan Mitchell, a New Zealander who made Australia her home in 1970, married a dreamer – would-be sailor Ian Mitchell, in 1971.
An unexpected windfall made it possible for them to buy a small ocean-going yacht (a twenty five foot design called a Top Hat) and they set off to explore the world in 1974, returning as a family in 1977.
Son number one was born in South Africa and their second child was born a few short months after their return to Sydney. Jan wrote twelve articles about their voyage for Australian Seaspray magazine. In retirement, she expanded these articles into the popular book, Two in a Top Hat. Encouragement from her support group, the Lake Macquarie branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, led to two more ocean cruising books incorporating articles from Cruising Helmsman (the later incarnation of Australian Seaspray) magazine.
Crossings in Realitas deals with taking their two sons ocean cruising as frequently as school and work in Sydney allowed, and Hear the Ocean Sing covers the years after the Mitchell’s two sons grew up and bought their own yachts. Jan recounts stories of their cruises to Lord Howe Island (400 nm off the NSW coast), Tasmania, New Zealand and New Caledonia.
In her writing, Jan incorporates much detail about life at sea, ocean creatures, learning to snorkel, her love of coral and her disappointment that ocean warming is driving dire changes to our global climate.
"A first class, well written book by people who dared to sail around the world in a 25 foot boat. 'Two in a Top Hat' is easy to read, informative and should provide inspiration to those who aspire to travel the globe in a small boat." - Amazon Review
"A readable sailing adventure over a period of time and a brave lady that often suffered with sea sickness , add a husband and child and a small yacht and you get adventure. Well done!" - Amazon Review
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.