The winter season…

The winter season…

Outside my home office, snow flakes blow past as winter has Belgium (and most of Western Europe) firmly in its grips. Our yearly January sailing trip to the Canary Islands has become the latest victim of the COVID pandemic: with a lot of luck, we might have gotten there, chartered a boat and returned while conforming with shifting sanitary constraints. But the hassle – and the risk to catch the d… bug – dissuaded us.

Meanwhile, the extraordinary VendĂ©e Globe race has kept us connected with sailing. In 80 days around the world! No leisurely cruise it is, but a marathon. You see it on the faces of those that made it back to Les Sables-d’Olonne, their minds still in race mode, constantly listening to the sounds of the boat, watching the sails, getting ready to fixing something broken, watching out for obstacles…

I’ve been watching Jean le Cam most closely, “King Jean”, on an older boat that has done the trip three times now (if not more), with much less techy stuff (like foils), but a skipper with a lot of experience (from 5 participations) who arrived fourth in an incredible close race. Whatever Jean says in his interviews or little video blogs is difficult if not impossible to translate into English. But he’s obviously a very gifted no-fuss sailor, and managed en passant to pick up Kevin Escoffier in his survival raft after his boat broke in half and sank. A nice chance to give back to the same team that picked him up in a previous race!

Since we’re grounded, we both will brush up on our theory in February/March, with a navigation course for Connie, and an RYA coastal skipper class for myself. Both courses build on previous ones and add some complexity to navigation (in tidal waters), passage planning and regulations. After that, we’re hoping to get onto a boat in the spring and get some more practice under our belts – fingers crossed!

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