Sunday, 20 May 2012 13:36

It's Never too Late...

"Fortune Favours the Brave" - Section of the main article as it appeared in Your Family magazine. By Kate Turner

While she loved her career as a successful psychologist, Durbanite, Claire Newton, 46, had also always dreamt of sailing the high seas. 

'At 39 I ran my own successful private practice and lectured at a private university. I had worked so hard to establish myself and was immensely proud of my achievements, but still, something was missing. I craved adventure.

'Looking back, I'm convinced my course for adventure was set the night I attended a dinner party at my friend James' house. He instructed us to bring photos of things that inspired us so we could share. I brought photos of yachts – for years I have wanted to go sailing. One of the sweetest sounds in the world to me is the "ting ting" of ropes hitting against a mast in a gentle breeze.

'Sometime after that memorable dinner party, I imagined myself as an old lady looking back on my life. What stories would I tell my future children and grandchildren? It was a tossup between: "I was a psychologist in private practice. It was a nice career", or, "I had a life of adventure. I followed my dreams and boy was it exciting!" I knew what I had to do.

claire-newton-yacht-mole'I found a sailing course that suited me and took some time off work. I was learning the ropes when I heard about a hostess job on a South African catamaran that would be sailing the Indian Ocean islands. I applied, got it, and spent the next six months living my dream. I had the romance of my life in the Seychelles, I spent Mass at Easter time in an island cathedral where the beautiful singing moved me to tears; and I felt so blessed to be having these once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

'But six months did nothing more than merely whet my appetite for adventure! So when I got back home, it was decision making time. I resigned from my university job, gave my client's notice and found a tenant for my home. Then I winged it to the South of France to scout for a job in the super yacht industry. I had no idea if I would even find a job, but I believe that fortune favours the brave and it turned out to be the best decision I ever made!


'It wasn't always easy. I went from being a respected individual with intellectual, academic and career status to a lowly 'nothing'. Guests wouldn't just look down on me, they actually looked through me – to them I didn't exist! But there were so many highlights. I spent my 40th birthday having the most decadent dinner with my crew mates in the best Italian restaurant called Francesco's in the coastal town of Via Reggio. And then there were the quiet moments once all the guests had disembarked -- lounging on deck, drink in hand, with the lights of Amalfi twinkling in the distance – possibly one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. Being in Cannes, for the Cannes Film Festival – not once but twice! And so many more memorable moments.

'Then one day, three years later, I woke up and I knew it was time to come home. Although working on yachts is extremely exciting, it's also physically demanding. And I missed my nephews so much. I had a dream to go sailing and I followed it, but I never intended to be a nomad forever. Now I am back home and cooking up more dreams to follow!