How a non-sailing office guy and his artist wife became world cruisers
Now empty nesters, they sold their large family home, bought and renovated three houses with plans of renting two to provide some income and selling the third to provide the money to buy the yacht of their dreams. Then in a cruel blow, just as the 'For Sale' sign went up, the tentacles of the Global Financial Crisis combined with record natural disasters in Queensland to stall the real estate market they were relying on to fund their dream. However they refused to let that dream die. Rather than give up, they decided ‘Stuff it. Let’s go sailing anyway!’
They looked for another way to kick start their new life and, rather than buying a boat, they decided to sail as crew with other cruisers. It all began in June 2011, sailing around the north of Australia through Indonesia to Bali on a Benneteau 57 sloop where they joined a Formosa ketch to Borneo and on to Malaysia before racing in the King’s Cup Regatta in Thailand on yet another boat.
After a very brief visit home they flew to the Mediterranean in January to gain some heavy weather experience sailing on a high-tech Shipman 72 from Malfonconi in Northern Italy to Malta, Tunisia, Sardinia, Mallorca and along the Spanish coast during the winter months. Next came Gibraltar to the UK via the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal and across the infamous Bay of Biscay on a magnificent Oyster 56.
In 50 weeks they logged a total of 7,239 nautical miles or 13,406 kilometres. They visited amazing places and shared equally amazing experiences, made lifelong friends, sailed with some absolutely wonderful owners and a couple of obnoxious ones.
Raised by the water at Sandgate on Brisbane's north side and the surf beach resort town of Mooloolaba on the Sunshine coast. A successful career in event management, motor sport television and marketing along with raising a family saw that desire lay dormant for decades. However, when he and Karen's three children had grown into self sufficient, independent life forces and flown the coop, reading tales of cruisers exploring unspoilt Pacific atolls soon saw the sea itch reignite and grow. That itch crystallised into the dream of buying a yacht and sailing off into the sunset.
|Karen's Grandfather, Eddie Jones, at the tiller racing on the Brisbane River.
At nine years of age, Karen and her younger brother Russell moved aboard the family's brand new 36 foot game fishing boat 'Wahoo' and headed north to the Whitsunday Islands for a new life in the charter business. 'Wahoo' was home and workplace for the Jones family for a number of years before they finally moved ashore at Airlie Beach where Karen completed her schooling.
|Wahoo anchored at Great Keppel island as Karen and her younger brother enjoy Svensen's Beach while Dad cleans the dinghy
After marriage to Rob, she completed studies in Textiles and Fashion Design before embarking on a career in the Royal Australian Air Force where she was involved in the modernisation of the service's uniforms. A posting to RAAF base Amberley saw the family settle in Ipswich and after discharge from the Airforce Karen joined Rob's growing event management, television and marketing business while also pursuing her life long passion for art. These artistic pursuits progressively took over her working life with a number of commercially successful solo exhibitions staged and her own working studio/gallery established in Ipswich. Before selling up and embarking on the cruising life she also conducted popular art classes.
On board, Karen works in watercolours as the confines of a yacht make painting in oils quite impractical. Her creative bent also extends to the galley where she continually experiments with new ingredients and recipes to produce culinary masterpieces afloat.