Every year, South Pacific yachting aficionados must decide where to set their sails before the cyclone season arrives. For some sailors, the ideal adventure is enjoying a madcap week of pirate-themed camaraderie at the Musket Cove RegattaOpens a new window in your browser in Fiji's Mamanuca Islands before heading to the more frequented ports in New Zealand and Australia.
For Canadian retirees Martin and Angela Minshall, this week also took on special significance: It coincided with Martin's 65th birthday.
Upon planning for their retirement, the Minshalls had little desire to spend their retirement among books, tea cups and snow. They sought a different kind of future — one that involved white sand beaches, verdant shores of exotic lands and reefs to snorkel in and dive for their own fresh lobster dinner.
While the couple occasionally visits their Vancouver home, the adventurous pair spends much of the year sailing around the South Pacific islands stretching themselves in unforeseen ways.
"Embarking on this kind of adventure has been a growing experience for me," says Angela. "For my husband, it is a fulfillment of a life's dream."
“It was a bit of a surprise in my late fifties to discover that my husband wanted to take our boat, which we had happily sailed up and down the British Columbia coast for twelve years, across the ocean to New Zealand through the South Pacific Islands," explains Angela. "I thought it was going to be a lifetime milestone, like climbing Everest [where you go once] — he would complete the challenge and then life would return to normal, sailing around the Pacific Northwest on our vacations."
Instead, Martin had other plans for his wife and SV Katie M II.
“We sailed together to Tonga, then on to Suwarrow in the Cook Islands, American Samoa, Western Samoa, Niataputapu," Angela says with excitement. "By the time we hit New Zealand, Martin had no intention of returning to coastal cruising around Vancouver and the BC coast."
As it turns out, it was only the beginning for Angela, too: "I had also fallen in love with cruising and wasn't ready for it to end."
"It has been an incredible ride," says Angela. "It has taken me out of my comfort zone and made me realize I can do things I never thought I had the mental or physical strength to do."
Friends and family following the Minshalls sailing adventures on Facebook cheered them on while becoming inspired to look at their own retirements as a second chance at adventure rather than a winding down.
Like Angela and Martin, more Canadians are looking at retirement as a way to permanently celebrate the teasers of the life they've experienced on vacation. The question for many then becomes not only how to fund these costs, but also how to prioritize retirement expenses.
For the Minshalls, the cost of adventure is similar to what it would be at home. Day-to-day expenses are restricted to nominal mooring fee at some yacht clubs, small entrance and exit fees when entering a new country and occasional boat repairs they do themselves or barter among other yachties. The only out of pocket cost is travel supplies, which means the Minshalls are free to splurge when adventure calls.
Of course, the ability to maintain this lifestyle comes from years of retirement saving and smart decisions while on the water.
After all, the Minshalls could use a few more voices in the “Oh, Canada" chorus next year.
Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of CIBC or their partners.