Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain.
I simply had no choice but to start my first ever blog with the quote that has determined and impacted my ‘road of life’ (or should I say voyage?) from a very young age onwards. Without doubt, mainly due to the way my parents raised us.
I was nine years old when my dad came home and told us: “let’s do a sailing course together this summer.” Living on the east side of Belgium, we (my brother and I) must have opened some eyes, since the North Sea is simply on the other side of the country. (Apparently there was a small lake not too far, where you could learn to sail). And so we did, my first steps on board an Optimist.
Three years later that same dad (and mom) picked us up from school and told us: “we are going to move to some other place” (Again my brother and I looked at each other) “to Cape Town, South Africa” (I think our eyes must almost have popped out.) There we were, throwing off our bowlines…
When you suddenly receive the news that your dad, who taught me to throw off the bowlines, is tight down with a disease for which no cure exists; you feel as if being taken down by a huge wave, struggling to come back on your feet.
Suddenly, important things become less important. Suddenly you get taken back to basics, your family.
But at the same time you set new goals in life. You change the sentence ‘I want to..’ into ‘I will do..’
So said, so done!
After one year of dreaming, it was final. Just before Christmas (2015) my mom and I drove to Lorient, France to look for a boat, a Pogo2. Lorient is the homeport of solo yacht racing. Most of the professional sailors are preparing here for the 2016 Vendee Globe, a single-handed yacht race around the world. Here I am, a rookie ‘le petit Belge’ in Lorient. These Vendee Globe sailors will set off only a few weeks after me, in bigger and faster boats and will be passing me. Hope to see them on my way! (Chances are small ;)
Anyway, we returned with a boat. My mom and I looked at each other: “there is no way back – SailingChallenge4ms is official!”
At the end of the day, I will be stepping alone on that 6.5m long boat, trying to cross the North and South Atlantic Ocean in it.
15.000 km – 60 days alone at sea – 3 continents – Man vs. Nature
However, behind the sails I have the back up of an extensive and professional team, helping me for mission one: leaving the safe haven with a ready to go boat. Thank you guys! (you can see my partners on my website ;)
Right now I am at sea, working on board a gas tanker. If all go’s to plan I expect to disembark at the end of April. From then on, full preparations in getting the boat and myself ready for throwing off the bowlines, will start. You can follow it all through my website and Facebook page. Safe winds! Ruben
SailingChallenge4ms – Ruben is doing an attempt to be the first Belgian to sail solo across the North and South Atlantic Ocean, from Newport, Belgium to Cape Town, South Africa in only a 6.5m sailing yacht. He challenges you for YourNameOnMySail or BuyAMile4ms. The funds raised are used to start a new MS research project of the University Hasselt. – Challenge accepted? Visit: www.sailingchallenge4ms.com
Ruben Donné - SailingChallenge4ms
On the 2nd of October 2016 I will attempt to sail across the Atlantic Ocean on a 6.5m yacht, alone.