From Herefordshire to Samoa onboard an Allures 45.9
Allures 45.9 “A Capella of Belfast”
Why did you set off around the world?
« Sailing around the world has long been on our wish list, though without really having a clear plan. Caught up in our daily lives, between work and family life, time has passed so quickly. Despite everything, in recent years, as the children have become more independent, we’ve been sailing up and down the Atlantic coast between Ireland, Spain, France and Scotland on A Capella, our first to bear this name, a forty-foot steel boat from 1995, which we acquired in 2010.
Every summer, we would go for a little longer, up to 8 weeks at the end. After many years of sailing and long discussions, the idea of sailing around the world started to become a very real possibility. And circumstances turned it into reality. The boys didn’t want to take over the family farm in Herefordshire, so either we continued forever what we had been doing for thirty years, or we took up the challenge of changing our lives, of making our dream come true. We still felt young, healthy, financially secure, and the prospect of living through Brexit didn’t really excite us, so the timing was right to simply get on with it! »
How did you prepare for this long journey?
« The following two years were more intense than we could ever have imagined, between the balance of our previous life, planning, preparation, and organizing our future life on the water! Upgrading our good old A Capella for such a trip seemed disproportionate and not viable to us, so we decided to order a new Allures 45.9. She was to become A Capella of Belfast, delivered in August 2017, just in time to join the Transatlantic Rally organized by Jimmy Cornell. The timing was very tight, but we were accompanied all the way there by the entire Allures team. But once we anchored in the Canaries, while we were waiting for the right weather window to cross the Atlantic, this time, we knew we had definitely made the right choice. The journey could really begin and the transatlantic race went as smoothly as it did comfortably. »
What was your programme?
« The first year, we stayed in the Atlantic, travelling through the Caribbean of course, then the Bahamas, and up the east coast of the United States. Most of the sailing was downwind in medium airs, and between the original code 0 and the asymmetrical spinnaker we have added, we really enjoy sailing. This season we cruised the Pacific, were captivated by the Galapagos, and necessarily fell under the spell of French Polynesia, en route to Samoa and we should reach New Zealand in November. »
And how is your new life going?
« Our lives have changed radically, more than we probably ever imagined they would, and every day offers its share of surprises. We’ve become experts in fields that we didn’t even know existed until two years ago: astro-navigation, fishing, seamanship and… Scrabble! The boat record is 756 points, thanks to our special rule: nautical terms count double! But if there is one thing we are sure and certain of, it is that at no time have we ever regretted our choice! Even though we’re no longer at work in the conventional sense of the word, we aren’t on holiday either. We are sailors, who are travelling the world. The attention we pay to our sailboat, the weather, the administrative procedures for the next stopovers or with England, easily occupy half our time, the other half being devoted to discovering the countries we visit. So many great encounters since the beginning! We meet people from incredibly diverse backgrounds, and we have become very close friends with many of them. Even among circumnavigators like us, there are so many ways to do such a trip. Everyone at their own pace, according to their interests. Some like us, enjoy the voyaging itself as much as the destination, and we like to change places at a reasonable pace but regularly. Others might not leave an island without having explored it in detail. Or some might be looking for the best diving or kite surfing spots, depending on their preferred activity. »
What is your view of your trip at this stage, and what are your expectations?
« In two years, we have made some modifications to the boat and it is a process of appropriation that seems normal to us. A Capella of Belfast adapts to us as we adapt to her over time, and we are really completely satisfied with our choice. This is the perfect boat for our programme. We plan to be away for five years, maybe six. Initially, we were considering eventually pointing the bow towards rather remote places such as Antarctica. But we must admit that the more traditional route we are following today suits us well in terms of sailing and is sufficient, for the moment at least, to quench our thirst for discovery. Then it will be time to head back home, undertake other projects, while continuing to enjoy the boat, but probably in less distant destinations, such as the Baltic Sea for example. »
In conclusion, what is your best memory so far?
« We have many, many great memories, but going through the Panama Canal and sailing the Pacific is very special. »