Ginny and I have a history together under sail. As kids, we fell in love with each other on boats. We sailed together in the Bahamas and the Caribbean, from the Azores to Portugal, along the Spanish Mediterranean coastline, and throughout our home waters in the Florida Keys. On a sail back from Bimini, she asked me to marry her… at least that’s the way I remember it. That was 40 years ago. We are celebrating that anniversary in Sardinia aboard Flying Fish.
Our partnership allows great latitude in our lifestyles. Sometimes we only see each other for a few weeks each year. It works for us.
In 1976, Ginny and I were students at the University of Florida when we said our first bon voyage. I was sailing across the Atlantic with my family. My mother and father had a dream to go sailing and sold everything to buy a 43-sloop. With my two sisters and my brother already scattering into the wind, Mom and Dad’s plan brought us all back together. We had a glorious passage from Florida to Europe but the money ran out faster than expected and our family voyage was abbreviated. Mom and Dad left the boat in Spain to go back to work and asked me to help bring it home where it could be sold. Ginny joined me in Alicante for a few months as I waited on a weather window for the return ocean crossing. That summer Ginny and I sailed like pirates through the Mediterranean surviving on young love, mountains of fresh sardines, and bodega wine that we drank from goatskin bags. Ginny was always the responsible party in this partnership and after that summer she returned to school while I continued sailing.
In 1981, we had only been married about a week when I set sail again, this time solo across the Atlantic in my 23-foot sloop Betelgeuse. Ginny met me in Horta and we continued to Portugal together. I sold Betelegeuse in Europe and returned to college where it took me 10 years to earn a four-year degree. I was distracted by saltwater; Ginny, however, was focused and working her way through law school.
Our daughter Lilly was born in 1986. In our connubial re-telling of history, the story once again diverges here but I am fairly certain that my “enthusiastic” operation of an open skiff across rough water, with Ginny late in her pregnancy, induced labor and Lilly ultimately entered our world. She is Capt. Lilly now, a 100-ton USCG-Licensed Master.
While I continued to mess about in boats, Ginny created a notable legal career as a State Prosecutor, a City Attorney, and a brilliant lawyer in private practice. I clearly remember Ginny’s face on the dock in Key West as I departed in Flying Fish in December 2017 on this passage around the world. This wasn’t her dream, but in her eyes I saw her confidence and encouragement of my dream. She has given me a generous gift.
As the voyage of Flying Fish progressed, Ginny and I would rendezvous in ports around the world. We celebrated Christmas together in Panama City with a 2 AM supper in the historic quarter of Casco Viejo. Ginny flew to Tahiti and we swam in the natural aquariums of Moorea. In New Zealand, we sailed and road-tripped, and even worked as grape pickers in a vineyard in exchange for a wine-country lunch and a box of vintage Cabernet. At the end of each visit Ginny would return to Key West to a house, friends, and job she loved–and where a dog was always waiting for her. I would trim the sails aboard Flying Fish and set a course for another distant horizon.
It will be interesting to see how our lives will dovetail once this trip around the globe in Flying Fish comes to an end. I suspect that there will be a period of adjustment, at least for me. But for my wife of 40 years, who always sails through life on an even keel, the potential of stormy weather ahead does not concern her. Ginny is an optimist. She has strength and patience, and we are in it together for the long run.
Sailing is not just about the wind and the sea; equally important are the places to which this boat takes me.
Please click Follow at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss a new update, and please consider sharing this post with others who might enjoy following the voyage of Flying Fish. I welcome your comments. I will always respond to your comment when I have an Internet connection. And I will never share your personal information.
You can follow the daily progress of Flying Fish, boat speed (or lack thereof), and current weather as I sail into the Mediterranean by clicking this satellite uplink: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish. Click the “Legends and Blogs” box on the right side of the tracking page for en route Passage Notes.
To see where Flying Fish has sailed since leaving Key West in 2017, click here: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish.
Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2021
Let this be a time of grace and peace in our lives –Fr. John Baker