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She lived aboard for 20 years to help herself, and others

Christina Mayo
·5 min read

The celebration of Women’s History Month is about recognizing accomplishment, and the passion for life and learning.

Carole Fontaine, known to some as The Sailing Yogi, shares her journey of growth in a new book “S.A.I.L. Above the Clouds — How to Simplify your Life,” the first of a four-part series.

S.A.I.L. stands for Simplify, Align, Integrate and Let Go. Through helping herself she discovered that her greatest mission in life is to help others, especially women.

“Never underestimate the women sailors you meant. Like the ocean, there is much more to them than meets the eye. They have mastered skills, faced mother nature at its worse, embraced the simple life, all to claim a unique connection to the ocean, life and sailing their heart’s purpose,” she said.

It was while working in the hectic corporate world of graphic design that her health failed, and she made the decision to change her life.

In 1997, she and her husband Eric Fontaine, whom she met through motorcycle riding, sold everything to live on a sailboat. And Carole Fontaine began her search for a meaningful life purpose, forgiveness and strength through a 20-year live-aboard experience.

She studied holistic and yogic philosophies to manage her chronic health issues. Along the way she discovered a love for teaching. She is a certified Life Coach, Meditative Writing, Shakti Dance® Yoga, and Reiki Master Teacher.

In 2011, she started her freelance graphic design business while living aboard the Windsong. Eric Fontaine always found work in management at different ports of call.

About five years ago she started writing, and her book was published in November. Readers will recognize familiar landmarks and sail through places like Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Dania, Miami and the Keys.

“They’ll cringe and experience what it was like being on a sailboat when Hurricane Wilma moved through our state in 2005 with catastrophic damage and fatalities. They’ll enjoy the postcard view of Miami described from a sailboat, laugh when we got our butts kicked in our first storm out of Stiltsville, do a night crossing to Bimini, and take heart in sailing Biscayne Bay with bottlenose dolphins,” Fontaine said.

“I also share inspirational insights, as it is my journey back to health after debilitating illness, and to finding my voice,” she said.

She was awarded an Inspirational Leadership Scholarship by Female About Business, a division of the Florida DeLand Chamber of Commerce. Through the pandemic, she has taught storytelling, mindfulness education and meditative writing through online classes.

In 2018, she and Eric finally sailed up the East coast to Maine and moved onto land.

“Drying my gills after 20 years onboard was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she said.

With strong ties to South Florida, where most of her friends, online students and followers live, she is planning to return post pandemic.

“This reminds me of a long voyage at sea. We’re isolated in our ships, quarantine flags raised, avoiding each other except through communication devices,” she said.

“It’s uncharted territory, so we must adapt, develop coping skills and learn to change course gracefully. Facing our fears and embracing uncertainty is our only option. Trust that the sun still shines if you choose to sail above the clouds.”

More at www.sailabovetheclouds.com, where you can read the first two chapters for free.

Grove Woman’s Club marks 130 years

Way back in 1890, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs was chartered as an international women’s organization dedicated to community improvement.

Hard-working members set up clubs in their cities and towns to support the arts, preserve natural resources, advance education, promote healthy lifestyles, encourage civic involvement and work toward world peace and understanding.

The Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove was one of the first, and its members have made a big difference in our community, especially through environmental conservation and arts programming.

In 2001, the club launched its Young Artists’ Gallery, an annual event that is back on this year after being cancelled in 2020. The free art exhibit showcases artwork from Miami-Dade County’s public high school students. It will be held outside from 1 to 5 p.m. March 13 and 12 to 2 p.m. March 14 at 2985 S. Bayshore Dr.

Winners from both 2020 and 2021 will be included and recognized at the exhibition and awards ceremony. Prizes include six scholarships totaling $20,000.

The Club celebrated its 130-year anniversary with a “drive-thru” gala for members on Feb. 20.

“I am truly awestruck by what our founding sisters achieved,” said the 76th and current president, Virginia Yermoli. “Their foresight and pioneering work led to the incredible legacy we inherited. Let us learn from them as we continue the club’s path into the future.”

More at www.womansclubofcoconutgrove.org

Experts help with COVID stress

We’ve all spent a year navigating the pandemic challenges. But for some, increased negative relationship issues during this time have made daily life especially difficult. There is help.

“Immunizing Your Relationships Against COVID Stress” is the topic of a free upcoming virtual event hosted by Albizu University. This “Ask the Experts” webinar includes a panel of three psychology experts who will convene via Zoom 2-3 p.m. March 10. It is open to the public and will be broadcast live via Albizu University’s Facebook page.

The webinar will explore “the relationship conflict process, from what happens to our bodies physiologically during an argument to differences among age groups and psychological influences on how we relate to one another.”

“In our heads, we know there’s a better way to face conflict, but without the right guidance to do it, our hearts often lead us down the road to estrangement,” said Isaac Tourgeman, an AU clinical psychologist and professor who will moderate the event. Register at bit.ly/3ujrRP0

Historic Hunt will be virtual fun

Step into the Roaring ‘20s and Miami of 100 years ago at The Villagers’ Virtual Historic Hunt, 2-5 p.m., March 20. This annual adventure is fun for all ages, and especially teams of family and friends.

You can play virtually from anywhere. All you need are your wits, a sense of adventure, and an internet-connected device.

The $20-per-person entry fee is your ticket to clues, intriguing history, and a chance to win a $300 cash prize. Details and registration at thevillagersinc.org/the-hunt/

Write to ChristinaMMayo@gmail.com with news for this column.