The first task, once we knew when we could take off, was to figure out a route which fitted the dates. Our initial idea had been to sail around the Mediterranean, but reading up on the literature we soon reached the conclusion this was an ill fit with our timeframe. The harsh conditions and frequency of storms in the Mediterranean would allow for little sailing during the December to February period of our sabbatical.
A conventional round of the Atlantic would be a better fit, with possibly a bit of a difficult period at be the start, as we wanted to leave early September in stead of the more conventional early July – August. We thus prepared for a round of the Atlantic, though we kept the option of going left at Gibraltar open.
We did not include the UK South neither the French Atlantic coast in our plans, as we felt we can still visit them during a normal, 3 weeks holiday starting from our homeport of Nieuwpoort.
The first 400 mile plus trips of our voyage taught us a few interesting lessons. Not only did they clearly show that Wouter is a true round the can man, loosing fun and interest once no cans are to be observed, it also became very clear that our kids store way too much energy to keep them contained to 12 meters of boat for longer periods. Combined with the normal care needed by our three toddlers and pre-schoolers, this held the risk of turning the longer crossings into work in stead of fun. We also noted that the longer trips were quite lonely for us, as we had precious little time left outside of watches and the care-taking of the kids. We thus found ourselves in Porto Santo redefining our route.
Fun with the family had always been the base for our sabbatical, and we therefore preferred to sail a less conventional route, but with a higher joy content for even the youngest crew member. We therefore decided not to cross the Atlantic, and winter in the Canaries. From there we went North again, against the trade winds, to the Madeira group. After 4 days we left Madeira again and sailed further NNW towards the Azores. From there we picked up the normal route again, to rally the Azores with Europe.