A former Lacombe resident is continuing her extraordinary journey on the seas, with the goal of sailing around the globe as part of a two-person crew.
Makenna Shine, 24, called Lacombe home for about 20 years, attending elementary, junior, and finally high school in the community.
Currently, Shine and her partner Jason Frechette have set a goal of sailing around the world on a 41-ft. Cheoy Lee sailboat.
Since day one, Shine, who is now based on Vancouver Island, has described this trip as an incredibly character-building experience.
She has also said she always had the desire to travel extensively, but going by sea was a foreign concept. That was until she moved to the west coast and discovered folks who lived on boats as an alternative lifestyle choice.
As to the journey’s latest chapters, the crew – which first set sail last October – ran into trouble a few months back when they discovered their prop blades had bent due to metal fatigue.
This took some careful planning to correct – thanks to a few handy connections. But it also took time. They had to sail more than 430 nautical miles to retrieve the new prop.
“We set sail to cross the Sea of Cortez which took the duration of two nights, totaling a 55-hour passage.”
Seas were calm as they rounded the northern tip of Isla Jacques Cousteau.
“This island was the last obstacle we faced before setting sail into the open ocean.”
But it wasn’t to be a quiet night.
“Around 3 a.m. we hit a gust of 40-knot wind that came out of nowhere.
“Sitka got pinned down 50 degrees on the starboard side,” she said. “I shouted for Jay’s immediate presence and he was ready for action within seconds.
“The boat was now stable after 15 minutes of madness, and we were able to catch our breath,” she said. “Eventually, the sun rose across the uninterrupted horizon, painting the sky pastel pink and yellow and all seemed less scary.”
But more commotion lurked around the corner.
They both noticed their phones were going crazy with notifications.
“We found out we were sailing into Mazatlan the day El Chapo’s sons were arrested,” she said. “We were sent articles and links to be aware of the violence that the Sinaola region of Mexico was facing.”
The danger did subside, so they carried on, exploring the beaches of Mazatlan. Soon it was time to head further south.
“We prepared for a 49-hour sail towards La Cruz, Mexico. This sail was lovely in every way possible. We had 15 knots of wind and Sitka was happy with her sail set up,” she said.
But more challenges awaited. The next day, Shine heard a massive crashing sound.
“Our boom connecting to the main mast had catastrophically failed. Yet another all-hands-on-deck situation. First and foremost, we had to bring down the mainsail and fast. We then had to stabilize the boom from making any more damage.
“Once the boom was up and off the deck, we then carefully assessed the damage.”
It was significant.
“Now unable to use the main sail, we had to rely on our broken prop to motor us the rest of the passage south which ended up being 16 hours straight. We reached La Cruz at 11 p.m. and dropped the hook in the pitch dark.”
They turned in feeling defeated with both modes of propulsion being compromised.
So this was home for the next three months while they waited for parts and the subsequent repairs.
But luckily, Santa Cruz is a popular hub for sailors.
“There is nothing better than having a drink among other cruisers and sharing crazy stories. This small town in Mexico soon became our home away from home.”
Soon things were operational again and they embarked on a 600-mile journey to Guaymas, Mexico.
“This sail was amazing and reminded us exactly why we chose to do this lifestyle,” she said, adding that in the wee hours one morning, she spotted a massive Great White shark near the vessel.
“Shook to my core to being so close to this beast, I froze and just stared as the shark swam nearly 10 feet off the starboard side of our boat,” she explained.
“That was truly something I’ll never forget!”
And this is where this chapter of the journey wraps up – for now.
The couple now heads home to work for the summer. In October, they head to El Salvador and Panama.
“But as the saying goes, ‘A sailor’s plans are written in the sand at low tide’. They are always and forever changing – and that’s what makes it so exciting!”