A former Lacombe resident is continuing her 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, 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.
Shine noted the crew, which calls Vancouver Island home, has made their way past Mexico.
“From there we have sailed south, stopping at such locales as Turtle Bay, Ascension Bay, Punta Abreojos, Mag Bay, and Cabo San Lucas.
“The journey has been a challenging and rewarding experience,” she said. “The sporty days and eerie nights of sailing all become worth it when you drop the hook in an unfamiliar anchorage with new land and people to be discovered. It’s all very exciting.”
Shine explained that a favourite spot so far was a small village located in Man Of War Cove in Mag Bay.
“This anchorage was something out of a storybook! While sailing in, dolphins guided us at our bow. We snorkeled with manta rays, communicated and played with the local children, explored a natural mangrove, and even stumbled upon a shipwreck. This bay is also known as a breeding ground for humpback whales who come all the way from Hawaii to mate in this protected and beautiful place.”
Since day one, Shine has described this trip as an incredibly character-building experience. It’s also been a rich season in her life of discovering new abilities and strengths.
“I am continuing to learn that I am much more capable than I’ve ever thought. With sailing, I’m learning as I’m doing which makes it easy to go head-to-head with uncertainty and challenges, some of which I never think I can manage - until I do,” she explained.
“I’m also on a crew with two ex-Canadian Navy men who continue to keep me on my toes,” she said, adding that it all fuels her determination to keep on mastering new skills while enjoying every moment of this grand adventure.
”I’ve never been a girl to back down from a challenge and I sure am not going to start now!”
Shine noted that a new challenge that has come their way has been some trouble with their inboard 56HP Yanmar diesel engine.
“When departing Eureka, California in preparation to sail to Mexico, we encountered some danger when leaving the river bar,” she said, adding that Eureka is known as the second most dangerous port entrance on the west coast of the United States.
When sailing off, their engine suddenly died from debris in the fuel tank clogging the filter, starving the engine at the worst possible time - while they were facing 15-ft. waves.
“We were roughly 200 ft. from completely beaching the boat and being washed ashore,” she recalled.
Luckily, Frechette remembered an emergency dual ray core filter system, so he ran below and switched the valve from the clogged filter to the unobstructed one.
Thankfully, after a few false starts, the engine finally roared back to life.
Ultimately, Shine, who relocated to the west coast in 2021, has also learned that embarking on this kind of journey demands patience. It can be slow going, but it’s that sense of patience that also makes for a more rewarding trip.
“Our plan is to enjoy the experience and not rush anything,” she said, adding that Hall will be disembarking in Cabo as planned so it will be just Frechette and herself moving forward.
“We are aiming to settle into La Paz, Mexico in mid-December, just in time to celebrate a sandy Christmas - a big first for me. Instead of shoveling snow, I’ll be tanning on the beach!”
Shine has 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.
Meanwhile, she is having the time of her life and despite the challenges, she wouldn’t change a thing.
“We want to meet people, learn new things, eat new food, bask in the sunlight, and just appreciate all that this beautiful life has to offer.”
The crew invites folks to follow their journey via their YouTube channel – Sailing Sitka https://m.youtube.com/channel/UC8VCvx2rQzuOlLrsnudr3Qw.
Those interested can also check in with them via Instagram – @sailingsitka.