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Clive and Jane Green set off from Wales to head to Spain – it was just meant to be a short trip across the Atlantic. Sixteen years later, they returned home.
Their experimental seven-day break turned into a 58,000 day round-the-world voyage, taking them to 56 countries, swimming with sting rays in Tahiti, dodging pirates off the East African coast and even having to survive 23 days at sea without fresh water – desalinating seawater just to stay alive.
“We have been very lucky to see our planet in such an amazing way – we didn’t ever plan to sail around the world, it just happened. We would sail to a place and then through word-of-mouth from other sailors, hear about somewhere else to go on to. That has been our life for the last 16 years – it’s been an amazing experience.” said Mrs Green, 60.
Both Clive and Jane have been keen sailors for the majority of their lives. In 1997, they purchased their 1981 Trident Challenger yacht for £16,500 and then spent several months and a further £20,000 doing it up.
They rented out their home in Wales whilst they took a trip to Spain, via Ireland, in order to test how well they coped on the boat together – it was a success, so the couple decided to carry on sailing.
After visiting Spain, they sailed to the Cape Verde islands and then went across the Atlantic to Barbados and island-hopped their way throughout the Caribbean. After this, they went on to the east coast of America, stopping in New York for a three days of shopping and sightseeing.
After four years had passed, they decided to sell their home – there was no turning back. They invested the money from that into two slightly smaller properties, and rented those out – giving them a supply of income during their travels.
Although this meant that the couple had to live on just £130 a week, they managed to trade their belongings for supplied – at one point Mrs Green traded her Marks and Spencer’s bras for a sack of fresh fruit and vegetables on a small island near Fiji.
During their trip, the Greens managed to see orang-utans swinging from the trees in Borneo, swam with seals off of the Galapagos Islands, watched sparks shooting into the night sky from an active volcano in Fiji, encountered sea turtles and even a giant Sei whale – but the couple said that meeting people was the highlight of their journey and that they had truly appreciated the words of wisdom that fellow members of the sailing community had offered them.
“We have seen some wonderful sights but it is the people that we remember.” Summarised Mrs Green.
There were only a couple of scares during their 16-year-long journey; Mr Green suffered from a tooth abscess and also managed to cut off the top of his finger on the gallery table. They also discovered they were being followed by a boat in waters inhabited by Somalian pirates, but it turned out it was an Eritean fishing boat with a crewman on board who had a severe gash to his leg.
“it wasn’t very brave of me, but I watched as Jane hopped onto their boat to clean and dress the wound before we waved them on their way.” Said Mr Green.
Mrs Green added, “We never came across anything we couldn’t cope with – we are both very resourceful. We had such a fabulous time. People say to us ‘you should write a book’ but the thing is, disasters sell books and we haven’t had any disasters – we have had good weather, we have met wonderful people everywhere we have been – we can’t fault it.”
The couple arrives back in Neyland Marina at the beginning of September, only to be met by the same friends who had seen them off 16 years, one month and two days earlier.
Mr Green added, “We really had gone full circle – all the way around the world at an average speed of 4.5mph. It is good to be home to see all our friends and family and we have promised ourselves to spend a few months getting to know them all again.”
The couple plan on spending winter on their boat in Wales this year, with plans to begin their next adventure in the New Year – this time on a wide-beamed boat through the canals of Europe.