AN EDINBURGH woman has spoken of her incredible sailing trip across the Atlantic Ocean, four years after a life-changing car crash.
Jasmine Prince was involved in a horrific car accident in 2018 that curved her spine, leaving her registered disabled and with scoliosis at just 18-years-old.
Despite having withdrawn into herself following the crash, when an opportunity arose last year for Jasmine to indulge in her passion for sailing in the form of a trip across the Atlantic, she couldn’t resist.
Setting sail with her dad, stepmum and nine other complete strangers, Jasmine embarked on a journey that has left her with a newfound verve for life.
Jasmine, originally from Chester, Cheshire, has been out on the waves since she was 12 years old when her dad and stepmum – both avid sailors themselves – began taking her on sailing holidays.
However, her car crash and the world coming to a halt thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic meant Jasmine’s hobby had all but died out come 2022.
When her mother approached her with an offer to sail the Atlantic, to dust off the cobwebs of lockdown though, Jasmine jumped at the chance.
Speaking today, Jasmine said: “In 2018 I was involved in a really bad car crash that curved my spine 23 degrees and left me with scoliosis.
“I was only 18 at the time, and the whole experience, including the initial misdiagnosis, crushed me.
“I became registered disabled and suffered from terrible panic attacks from doing even the simplest things, like visiting the shops.
“I withdrew into myself, and my world became very small.
“Fast forward five years, and there I am in Gran Canaria setting sail on a small boat with nine strangers, knowing I won’t see land for another month.
“To say I was nervous is a huge understatement, but I knew this was something I had to do, something I had to conquer.
“Covid had happened, I’d had my car crash, and basically, I’d stopped all sailing.
“Then, it was coming to the end of lockdown, and my stepmum approached me and said that after this lockdown, I needed something that’s like a life-changing experience.
“Her and my dad had signed up to sail the Atlantic and they said to me, ‘There’s another space on the boat, would you like to go too?’
“It just worked out so well that my back was in a really good place. I’d done a lot of physio, I think I’d done about seven, eight months of physio, two or three times a week.
“I thought, if I don’t do it now, by the time I get set up in a job, I will probably never do something like this. And I thought, it’s one of those things that you can think about for the rest of your life.
“It’s best not to think about it, just sign on to it because the thought of being at sea for a month is pretty terrifying.”
However, the whole plan could have been derailed when Jasmine was offered her dream job just before she was due to set sail.
Jasmine had secured a highly competitive graduate intern position at W. L. Gore & Associates (UK) Limited, a global materials science firm with plants in Livingston and Dundee.
She said: “I went to the interviews, and I was very transparent with them that I’d already paid for this trip, that I was really hoping I could still do it.
“It was a really tough decision thinking I’m going to have to choose one, and thankfully Gore is such an open company that they said, ‘That’s an amazing opportunity for you and we think you should still go for it.’
“I was so thrilled to have secured a role with Gore and yet there I was asking within my first weeks of employment if they would mind me taking a month off.
“It would have been so easy of them to say no, but they couldn’t have been more supportive.”
So on 20 November, Jasmine set sail, along with her dad, stepmum, and nine complete strangers – all crammed together in one boat.
Jasmine said: “We had no information about the people we were sailing with. We didn’t know their names, we knew nothing about them.
“You just thought ‘Right, I hope this person’s nice because I’m stuck with them for a month.’
“I was very lucky that they were. They were lovely. We were joined by a Russian oligarch accountant, a film director, a doctor and a detective.
“Most of my fellow crew were just a bit bored with their lives and wanted a challenge. My motivation ran deeper.
“I needed to prove to myself that I could once again be adventurous and fearless after my accident.”
All 11 people shared one room to sleep in on tiny bunk beds, with Jasmine explaining: “You’re stacked on top of each other. One person snored, he was a farmer, and he snored an awful lot.”
“He actually scared himself and fell out of the top bunk of the bed. Thankfully he didn’t injure himself, but that was a bit of karma for him keeping us awake,” she added jokingly.
“When you’re up on deck you’ve got clips to hold yourself on… when you’re at the stove you have clips to hold yourself to the stove.
“Even in the bathroom you have handles to hold onto whilst brushing your teeth.”
However, even with Jasmine’s prior sailing experience, the sea swells took their toll.
She said: “The seasickness at the beginning was so awful that I genuinely wanted to swim back to shore.
“That lasted for about three days. And you’re still having to cook, you’re still having to eat, you’re still having to manage the boat, so that was very hard to do.
“You lose all dignity. You don’t care about people being sick or anything like that. It all just becomes very animalistic.”
A limited supply of fresh water also meant that those on board could only shower every three days.
Jasmine said: “We didn’t wash our hair for the whole time because that was too much water.
“You learn how to be resourceful with wet wipes. It smells, but after a couple of days nobody cares because you go into survival mode.”
One moment Jasmine recalls is when, 500 miles from land, she leapt into the water to swim with the whole crew – leaving the boat unmanned and still moving.
She said: “We were in the middle of the ocean, and we all jumped in. Even though it was a very still day, the boat was still moving at quite some speed.
“You’re having to swim to keep up with it. It gave you such appreciation for the ocean, that even in those moments where your boat is right next to you how quickly things could go wrong.
“When I came home it was so weird that the bed wasn’t rocking. I’ve had cases in the past where I’ve gone onto a solid bed and fallen out of it since I’m so used to the boat moving.
“The other thing that was amazing to me was how easy it is to make a cup of tea.
“On the boat you have to boil it on the stove, the boat is moving, and you’ve got a boiling hot kettle. It probably takes half an hour to 40 minutes to make a cup of tea.
“You hadn’t had the internet for a month, so I was constantly Googling things I hadn’t Googled for a month,” she added.
Jasmine said the entire experience was transformational, and that she would not have gotten the same out of it if not for her horrible accident.
Jasmine said: “It’s shaped who I am now and made me realise that life is very short.
“I think having the pain levels for such a long time made me a lot more confident…and it’s made me realise I’m very strong.
“I was working on the boat just as well as people who were male, 6’2″, and going to the gym every week.
“I would encourage others to take a leap and challenge yourself to something extraordinary.
“You might just surprise yourself.”