Regina Petra Meyer  – Change of Course

Broadcast Books, Australia, 2022
Cover and text design by Hazel Lam
Cover photographs by Don Herbert Photography and from Regina Meyer’s collection

This memoir covers a short but colourful period of the author’s life when she was crewing sailing boats in the Caribbean. It is candid and detailed in its telling, the author at pains to show us herself, along with the people she bumped shoulders with and the many experiences her adventuring spirit gave rise to.

Barbie spoke to Regina Petra Meyer about Change of Course

It is above all her sense of spontaneous adventure that strikes us. She leaves a secure and stable situation in Switzerland, feeling somewhat stifled by its limitations and orderliness and goes to the other extreme – a life of uncertainty and financial hand to mouth much of the time.

It is also a life of personal adventure offering new and edgy relationships both at work and at play. The offers are usually grasped with enthusiasm though not without some consideration of their consequences.

As well as painting a very interesting picture of the lives of people who spend their time sailing, mainly people with considerable wealth, Regina deftly reveals the vicissitudes of crewing. Captains can be mercurial, manipulative, exploitative. Crews are at their mercy unless, like Regina, they speak up and make certain their workers’ rights are respected.

The author shares stories of the highs and lows of her time in Antigua – disillusionment, sexual passion, grappling with corruption and greed, dealing with government agencies. In fact, here is a picture of a very different society form the one the author has left.

And yet, she persists, taking everything in her stride. Thus, while we have an unadorned view of her because of her honesty, we can also draw our own conclusions about her courage, her tenacity and her energetic embrace of new learning experiences.

For those of us used to the constancy, comforts and security of home life, Regina’s restless need to move on and seek out newness and uncertainty seems like an act somewhere between gutsiness and foolishness.

The book is therefore revelatory in its persuasive suggestion that we all find satisfaction and personal growth in different ways and that the pursuit of dreams is never foolhardy. It’s about what is possible if we surrender.

Thank you to Regina Petra Meyer for my review copy and for a forthright and interesting conversation about the part of her life that was the foundation for this memoir.