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My world shrank after a brutal car crash – here's how I rediscovered my confidence

Jasmine Prince was registered disabled after a car crash. Five years later, she sailed the world to prove she could still be adventurous Here's what happened

Young woman on sailing boat
25 October 2023
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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 crushed me. I became registered disabled and suffered from terrible panic attacks doing even the simplest things such as visiting the shops. I withdrew into myself and my world became very small.

Fast forward five years and I was in Gran Canaria, setting sail on a small boat with nine strangers, knowing I wouldn’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.

Young woman driving a boat
Jasmine faced challenges during her sailing trip

I was spurred on by my stepmother, who had already signed up and was looking for a companion. The boat fit 11 passengers. We were joined by a Russian oligarch accountant, a film director, a doctor and a detective. Most of my fellow crew were 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.

Even signing up for the trip was a reckless move as I had just landed my dream job - a graduate intern position at W. L. Gore & Associates (UK) Limited. I was so thrilled to have secured the 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 for them to say no, but they couldn’t have been more supportive. All that they asked in return was that I gave a talk to my fellow associates about my adventure when I returned. Kindness like that is one of the reasons they rank as one of the best employers in Europe, and why I didn’t want to lose my job there.

The sailing adventure

Sailing the Atlantic couldn’t have been more exhilarating or life-affirming. I saw dolphins, whales, turtles, seals and the most magnificent sunsets imaginable. I also built amazing relationships with people I was sailing with, all of whom were really inspiring.

Young woman in St. Lucia
Jasmine met people from all walks of life on her trip

One moment I’ll never forget is when I leapt into the water to swim with my fellow crew leaving the boat unmanned and still moving. At this point, we were over 500 miles from any land. The adrenaline surging through my body was so intense. When I got out of the water, I couldn’t believe how brave I had been. Had the wind picked up the boat could have sailed off without us. Yet this moment of recklessness was the highlight of my trip. I really wish I could bottle that feeling and take a sip every time I feel apprehensive.

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Challenges on the trip

But make no mistake, this sailing trip was also hard work. I was constantly tired. I was always hungry. There’s a curtain instead of a toilet door. Because of water restrictions, I could only shower every three days.

The seasickness at the beginning was so awful that I genuinely wanted to swim back to shore. Knowing we were hundreds of miles away from medical assistance scared me. And as any 23-year-old would agree, being without your mobile phone for a month is no easy thing to do.

Young woman on the edge of the boat
Jasmine's trip reminded her she can do hard things

Even the day-to-day tasks were challenging. The bunk beds were tiny and I had to have a piece of cloth connected to the side to stop myself from falling off when the boat rocked.

But the boat rocked so much that I spent more time in the cloth than the actual bunk bed.

When it was my turn to cook I had to be strapped to the cooker. Making a cup of tea was difficult because the boat rocked about so much. One year on and I still take delight in the ease of making a cup of tea back on land.

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After the trip

At the end of our journey, as the boat finally neared our destination of St Lucia, you could smell land before you could see it. I was excited and sad in equal measure. I couldn’t wait to stand on solid ground, sleep in a stable bed and order a burger, but I knew I’d miss my sailing companions and the magic of the ocean.

My adventure ended on 8 December 2022. I can’t explain how transformational the experience has been for me.

If my 18-year-old self could look at what I’ve achieved she would struggle to believe it. Sailing the Atlantic aged 23 is no easy feat, especially after recovering from such a brutal accident.

But I knew I had to push myself to stop my world from becoming too narrow. I want to continue to break barriers for myself and to remember life is one big adventure.

I took a leap of courage, and discovered I’m much more capable than I ever dreamed, and that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. I would encourage others to take a leap and challenge yourself to something extraordinary. You might just surprise yourself.

 Read more inspiring stories from people who stepped out of their comfort zone.

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