We're off!!

After many years of dreaming and planning, two sailors and their Hallberg-Rassy 53 leave Belgium to see the world.

Our circumnavigation - photos and stories

As our circumnavigation story expanded and also became "creative" as we returned on our steps in 2018, in order set off again in 2019 ("reculer pour mieux sauter", as the French would say), we wanted to avoid creating a single and unmanageably long webpage. So we have broken our adventure down into many smaller pages... These "subpages" start in the Summer of 2017 when we leave Belgium for our big trip, and subsequently cover our ARC, our time in the Caribbean, our decision to head back to Europe for a better preparation, and our setting off again for the second time in 2019 - but this time from the Netherlands.

Then of course in early 2020 the world went into Covid-19 pandemic mode and our next destinations in the Pacific closed their doors. By September we realised that we were not going to make it around this time either - at least in the time-frame and format we had originally planned. So, with a heavy heart we organised air travel to Belgium for ourselves and a freighter headed for Southampton for Ngahue IV. Perhaps in 3-4 years' time we will find the enthusiasm to set off a third time with Ngahue IV - so don't give up on us yet, as third time may be the lucky one...

For sailing outside the EU, it is reccommended to have full ship's registration papers, so we had the Dutch kadaster come on board to measure up the boat and brand her. A few weeks later we received a very nice registration document in a blue cover which has been studiously copied in every country or island where we have landed.

Part of the registration process is to have a Dutch home port, so we opted for Maastricht: the town that gave its name to the EU Treaty of Maastricht. These days, Maastricht ('Mestreech' in local dialect) is much better known as being the home town of Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra. André Rieu (junior) is a little older than I am, and so I already saw him as a young violinist in Maastricht in the 1970s. I was also a fan of his father, André Rieu (senior), who was the conductor of the Limburg Symphonie Orkest (LSO - just as good, just a little less prestigious than the London Symphony Orchestra and André Previs in the 1970s) where I attended their classical concerts in the "Staar" building and further developed my love for classical & orchestral music. Against this background, it's pretty hard not to be a fan of André Rieu and his contribution towards popularising 19th and 20th century (Viennese) music! Furthermore, Laura has a special connection with Donij van Doorn (a niece) who has been one of André Rieu's solo sopranos for the last couple of years. Donij has a wonderful voice and in our opinion could teach nighting gales a thing or two when it comes to singing!!!

Maastricht is also just above Liège on the river Meuse, the birthplace of Laura and part of what, as a historian in my younger days, I myself called the Carolingian triangle (Liège, Aachen, Maastricht)... Having the name of the city of Maastricht on the back of the boat has certainly drawn regular attention to her around the Atlantic and Caribbean!!

1. The start of our circumnavigation - 21st July 2017

2. Our ARC in November & December 2017

3. The Caribbean: December 2017 - May 2018

4. ARC Europe and return to Europe from May 2018

5. Our last miles to and in Europe - first improvements undertaken in Swanwick marina

6. Lessons learned and Improvements for a better "re-departure" in 2019

7. We set off again: Netherlands to the Canaries in 2019

8. Our second ARC: the ARC-Plus to Saint Vincent via the Cape Verde Islands - November & December 2019

9. Picking up our circumnavigation again: the World ARC - January 2020 and beyond

10. Covid-19 introduces a temporary interlude in our circumnavigation plans

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