The Captain Morgan Effect | Sharon Henry
Theirs is a story whose plot reads like a can’t-put-down adventure novel; girl meets boy, falls in love and sails off into the sunset to travel the world.
“It was either love or stupidity,” laughs Cheryl Morice, the heroine in this tale. “I had no sailing experience at all. We left on Morgan’s (the hero) 29ft boat which was so small you could stretch your arms out and touch both sides. I was terrified,” she says, “but I had faith in him.”
Twelve years on the couple have returned as newlyweds for a short stopover at St Helena, Cheryl’s home and the island where their epic journey began. They’ve notched up a zillion world destinations and anyone who follows them on Facebook would catch a serious bout of wanderlust.
The Nomads’ Homecoming
It’s been five years since their last visit and Cheryl’s spending precious time with family who’ve laden the welcome table with her favourite island dish of poke mince. “We had poke mince and beetroot Thursday night and by 10 o’clock the next day I was eating poke mince for breakfast,” she laughs. “Forget the diet!”
The pair work as crew – skipper and first mate – for private yacht owners. Their current gig on ‘Louise’ sees them on this Atlantic crossing bound for the Caribbean. They’ll soon pass a certain spot near the equator that’ll mark a full circumnavigation of the globe after a three-year stint on board.
They’ve managed to squeeze in a few minutes for a chat with us before leaving St Helena shores once again.
The Cheryl Knot
Cheryl’s come a long way since her rookie days, “When we first left, I didn’t know that boats actually heel (lean to one side), I honestly thought that was just in the movies. I screamed all the way across the Atlantic!”
But hey, she’s a smart girl and learnt the ropes soon enough, “Morgan taught me everything,” she smiles. “Although sometimes even today he asks me ‘what knot is that?’ I go, it’s Cheryl’s knot!”
The Morice’s story began as 12 and 13 year old kids when Morgan’s French cruiser family stopped over on St Helena for a month. They made friends but subsequently lost touch. Then 12 years ago the stars aligned when Cheryl was home on holiday from neighbouring Ascension Island and Morgan was visiting once again on his yacht.
Life’s Too Short
It was a chance encounter, “We realised we liked each other,” she says, “and life’s too short, you just have to do what you want to do.” So she took the plunge and joined him. “You really get to know somebody when you’re in a small confined space together.”
They spent nearly a year island-hopping in the Caribbean then signed up to charter yachts in Belize before making the switch to privately owned boats. It’s given them travel experiences the rest of us can only dream of.
“Someone asked us yesterday what are our five best places, and we had to narrow it down to this trip in the last 3 1/2 years.”
Wish We Were There
“South Georgia – is harsh but it’s beautiful and the wildlife is unbelievable. There were seals laying down by the boat and penguins walking past, it’s out of this world.”
“Antarctica – is fantastic. It’s black and white, and blue, the rocks the snow and ice. We were motoring through the bay and passing pods of killer whales and seals on ice bergs.
“French Polynesia – is so beautiful I can’t even describe. Vanuatu was great, very primitive and the people are so friendly.
“And Sri Lanka – was a pleasant surprise, I had no expectations, the people were so nice that I would go back there.”
The St Helena Charm
Delightfully, after all that the pair rank St Helena high as a travel destination. “I’ve seen so many places and I realise that St Helena has a lot to offer,” says Cheryl. “I think we need to sell St Helena more; it’s beautiful, unique; we have peacefulness, friendly people and very little crime.”
“The scenery in St Helena is like ‘wow’ you can’t get that elsewhere,” adds Morgan. “The Post Box walks are incredible, shipwrecks, diving, the Napoleon history…”
“I’ve been around the world looking for whale sharks, and they’re right here on St Helena!” laughs Cheryl. “It’s become a bit of a joke.”
They’ll finish working on ‘Louise’ next month to start a new adventure – fixing up their own boat to join the cruiser sailing community, like the Gifford family we met earlier this year on yacht, Totem. It’s this lifestyle that Morgan grew up in. “That’s what we left to do 12 years ago,” says Cheryl, “we just ran out of money! The beauty of being a cruiser is you have the freedom of seeing the world.”
Wow – just wow.
…of this chapter. Can’t wait to see what happens next!