Wayland professor takes early retirement to sail the globe

Quitting work to travel is a dream many people probably possess. But for one Lubbock woman and her husband, that dream will become reality very soon.

Dr. Carroll Melnyk, associate professor of education at Wayland Baptist University for the past four years, announced her retirement this spring, planning with her husband Basil to travel around the world by boat.

"We love to travel; we've been to all seven continents," said Melnyk. "This is just an extension of loving to travel and wanting to go to all those places we've said we'd like to go."

Though both only in their 50s, Melnyk said she and her husband made the decision to completely give up life as they now know it after a series of events.

"We had a young friend diagnosed with cancer, then a young neighbor died," she said. "It just made us think that if we have our health now and the wherewithal, we should do this now. We both have parents who always said they'd do something when they retired and then never got to do it."

Around the Christmas holidays, the couple started talking about the dream of world travel. After putting pencil to paper, they decided the plan was feasible. Given their natural love for traveling and the water - they already own a 23-foot boat they use regularly - the couple opted to move forward to put their dream into action.

"We purchased a catamaran, but we know once we leave the area we'll need 3-6 months to outfit the boat and get comfortable with it, taking short cruises on it," she said. "Our goal is to sail around the world slowly. We're not in a hurry."

Melnyk said she has done much research on the Internet about such excursions and said the details won't be difficult to work out. There is no time limit to their travels, so Melnyk said they could be gone as long as ten years.

Life on the 36-by-19 catamaran, which is currently in the Florida Keys near where the couple's daughter lives, will be an adjustment, Melnyk admits. The couple is selling their historic home in Lubbock, along with many of their possessions, including vehicles, since they won't be needed on a boat. A few prized art pieces and antiques will be going into storage. Otherwise, all the Melnyks will take is clothing, supplies and perhaps a bicycle or motorbike to use when they reach a stop.

The travel plan is to start with North America, hitting some favorite spots in the United States such as California and then down to Mexico and South America. They plan to stay in intercoastal waterways, making it easier to dock and see the sites wherever they happen to be. They can also catch flights to the interior of countries they'd like to tour more.

Other than having a few locations they don't want to miss - Melnyk wants to visit Greece and spend some time in the Mediterranean - the rest of the travel plan is flexible.

"We know the big picture but not the details. We don't want to plan it that way," she said. "If we get somewhere we love, we can just stay for awhile, a few months or longer. We're just going to 'chase spring' and stay where the weather is comfortable."

In between sightseeing, Melnyk said she'll try to keep her hand in education by continuing to teach courses online for Connected University and perhaps by taking short-term teaching assignments in various locations. After 30-plus years in education, leaving the traditional teaching position is admittedly bittersweet.

"I will miss the students a lot, just watching them grow and learn and get jobs: that's exciting," she said. "I have loved being at Wayland, doing that same thing and being able to add the dimension of God and how He can help you in life."

A resident of Lubbock from an early age, Melnyk has two degrees from Texas Tech University and a doctorate in education from Baylor University. She taught in Arlington and Spring Branch before returning home for a 16-year stint in Lubbock junior high and high schools. She then served as director of technology for the Lubbock school district for 14 years. She taught adjunctly at Wayland for three years before coming on full-time four years ago.

In order to keep in touch with the many friends and coworkers, Melnyk said she and Basil will be setting up an Internet website where they'll keep updates on their journeys, pictures and will be able to email those back home.

Melnyk and her husband are members of Second Baptist Church, where she serves as a deacon. They both sing in the church choir and with the Lubbock Chorale.