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Former Lacombe resident hits the high seas on landmark adventure

‘I can surely say you are always one bold decision away from a completely different life’
Makenna Shine (formerly of Lacombe) and her partner Jason Frechette have set a goal of sailing around the world on a 41-foot Cheoy Lee sailboat. Photo submitted

A former Lacombe resident has opted for an exciting journey on the seas, with the goal of sailing around the world as part of a three-person crew.

Makenna Shine, 23, called Lacombe home for about 20 years, attending elementary, junior and finally high school in the community. She graduated in 2017.

Currently, she’s spending her days relishing an extraordinary adventure.

Shine and her partner Jason Frechette and their friend Harry Hall have set a goal of sailing around the world on a 41-ft. Cheoy Lee sailboat.

“The main thing I would say I have learned about myself is that your mind is truly your only limitation in life,” she explained.

“Once you push through the ‘what-ifs’, you are physically capable of doing anything. I have learned that I am truly powerful and I can conquer anything I put my mind to. This includes sailing 160 nautical miles offshore after only having sailed roughly five times prior.”

Shine said how eager she is to learn the ways of different cultures as the journey progresses.

”I am excited to live so simplistically and not get so entrenched in the stressful life of societal norms,” she said. “I think it is important to understand that to a degree we are not born to work and die, there is so much more to experience in this ‘grand ole world’ and as I keep getting told, ‘Do it while you’re young!’”

Not that there aren’t challenges.

”It is the most debilitating feeling I’ve ever felt in my life,” she said of bouts of seasickness. “If you think about it, you are trying to live your daily life but the ground underneath you is constantly unstable, sometimes throwing you from one side of the boat to the next.”

Shine said she’s always had a desire to see the world, although travelling by sea was a foreign concept. That was until she moved to the west coast in 2021 and discovered folks who lived on boats as an alternative lifestyle choice.

“I am currently en route to travelling somewhere tropical with my entire home. It’s such a wonderfully bizarre concept that I feel a lot of people are not aware of.”

There have been a few ups and downs along the way.

“It was the winter of 2021 when it got slightly rough to live onboard,” she said. “Living on the ocean off the west coast comes with a wet type of chill in the winter months, leaving us bundled up 24/7 with slippers on at all times,” she said. “It was during this time we decided we were going to get as prepared as we could and sail south. That’s the fun thing about having a sailboat as your home - you can move it somewhere tropical using the force of the wind!”

Earlier this year, the trio prepared for passage from Victoria to Ensenada, Mexico.

They planned to depart on Sept. 19.

“On Sept. 23, 160 nautical miles off the coast of California, we broke something that was detrimental to the sailboat’s rig (the port side spreader), making it impossible to use the main sail without snapping the mast off completely,” she explained.

“We turned the engine on and diverted course towards Eureka, California, where we took five days to make emergency repairs. Because we didn’t think we would be heading straight for land, we hit a weather system that was not so kind to us,” she said.

“We ended up having to hand steer for 35 hours in gale force winds creating breaking waves up to 30 feet in height. It was safe to say this small-town girl was the most seasick she’s ever been.”

With the crisis adverted, repairs completed and a few lessons learned, they again set sail.

Meanwhile, she is having the time of her life and despite the challenges, wouldn’t change a thing.

“We really are only one bold decision away from a completely different life, and the more you learn to live by this, the more magical life gets,” she said.

“Until I took a chance and stepped out of my box, how was I to know I would like this? And even if you do go out of your way to experience something new and you don’t like it - there is no such thing as failure, only lessons learned.”

The crew invites folks to follow their journey via their YouTube channel - Sailing Sitka

Those interested can also check in with them via Instagram - @sailingsitka.

“What I hope people take away from following along with our journey is that happiness doesn’t come from things, it comes from experiences and the people you love,” she explained.

“Everything I own and love is contained within a 41-ft. sailboat and I have never felt so happy and fulfilled in my entire life. From a small-town prairie girl to an offshore sailor, I can surely say you are always one bold decision away from a completely different life.”

Photo submitted

Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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