In December 2008, while they were living in Singapore, Thomas announced to Karine that he wanted them to sail around the Atlantic with their three children Mathéo, Cléa and Arthur. Within two years later, they had bought their Outremer 45 “Essentiel”, realised their dream, sold the yacht and Thomas had gone back to work. A well planned and efficiently run adventure, recorded on their website “Les Loulous de mer”.
Grand Large Café – How much time elapsed between your decision to leave and your actual departure?
Karine – The first time my husband mentioned it, was in December 2008. We decided to go ahead with the project in April 2009, bought the yacht at the end of May and put to sea in September. That was quick in comparison to many people we met who had taken several years to prepare for their trips. We had the chance to take a break and it was now or never.
Grand Large Café – Was it because of a career move?
Karine – Indeed, we had lived in Singapore for several years. At that time, all was not going well for Thomas who had to change jobs, so we left Singapore. Neither of us had a job, so we decided the time was right. Personally, I was not at all ready to leave when Thomas told me about his plans.
Grand Large Café: How did you manage to create a website so comprehensive and keep it up to date?
Karine: Thomas did that before we left and he spent many hours on the website. It was important for us to share our experience; just as we had read numerous accounts and blogs of world cruises. Thomas had put the system in place before we left, all we had to do was use Iridium to send our news to my mother-in-law in France, who put it on line. During the stopovers, we updated the website ourselves and added the photos. Eventually, we acquired a WiFi antenna for the boat, a more practical solution.
Grand Large Café: You took your three children with you. The youngest, Arthur, was just two and a half years old at the time. Did you take any specific precautionary measures to ensure their safety on board?
Karine: Not just for Arthur, for the other two as well, we tied nets to the guardrails and the lifelines. All their life jackets had a harness. It was quite straightforward; in bad weather, the children stayed down below and were not allowed on deck until it was safe and they were systematically harnessed. It is true that it was stressful for the whole family, but in general, Thomas and I remained quite confident, we had other issues to solve and we trusted the children to stick to the rule and put on their lifejackets before they stepped on deck.
Grand Large Café: You had a stopover in Morocco, isn’t that unusual during a tour of the Atlantic?
Karine: During the stopovers, we met many cruising yachts, not in Essaouira but in Rabat where “Téoula” had told us that there was an excellent new marina. Many of the yachts were there to prepare themselves for the Atlantic crossing. And Thomas wanted to go back to Morocco where he had lived as a child and, as he was a keen windsurfer, he went regularly to Essaouira, which is a well-known spot worldwide. Morocco was also the first exotic place we visited, another culture, a fantastic welcome from nice people, wonderful cake shops, tajines and couscous… We walked about a lot, we visited the casbah, the medina and we went to the wadi and the oasis. We have marvellous memories.
Grand Large Café: It seems you met quite a few Outremers on your way?
Karine: Well, we did not meet them all, but I can remember at least fourteen. As soon as you spot an Outremer, you stop to have a chat. It is like a family. We all have the same interests, the same views on cruising and sailing. Some of them became good friends. We regularly met up with “Téoula” and “Mephisto”. These are strong relationships. It is nice to sail on a sistership. With “Téoula”, in Guadeloupe, we had a great time and we met again at the Paris boatshow at the beginning of December. We may be different but we get on, it is funny.
Grand Large Café – Were all the Outremer crews on long distant cruises?
Karine – Some were like us on a sabbatical year, others for longer. There ware also many seasonal travellers who spend six months in Europe and six months on their yachts in the West Indies for instance.
Grand Large Café – If we understood correctly, you sold Essentiel three months after your return?
Karine – Yes we did, although we were not very optimistic about the sale. After the end of the summer season, we thought it was too late, the opportunity had passed and we would have to wait until the following year, but as Thomas said: “we must wait for an Outremers’ lover, otherwise nothing will happen”. And he was right. We met people who just wanted to visit our boat and showed an interest in our voyage but not necessarily in an Outremer. In September, we were surprised by the number of enquiries from potential buyers, amongst whom somebody who wanted an Outremer or nothing. He bought Essentiel at a reasonable price. The new owner knew our website by heart, he had read all the articles and that is how he found Essentiel although we had advertised her in a multihull magazine and Sail the World. In fact, potential buyers of an Outremer generally consult the ‘Grand Large Café’ website and read the owners’ logbooks. Essentiel is on her way to a round-the-world cruise with her third owners.
Grand Large Café – Did you find it easy to get back to work?
Karine – Yes, we had planned a one-year break and that was clear in our minds. Recently we moved to Fontainebleau where Thomas has found an interesting job with heavy responsibilities. We were lucky, people who travel longer can find it more difficult to settle down. The children soon got used to new surroundings and adapted quickly to their new life. They were also pleased to go back to school, as they has missed their friends.
Grand Large Café – Do you have any other travelling project?
Karine – Thomas has an idea in store about the Pacific, but it is not for now. If it ever happens, it will be much later when the children are older.
Le site des “Loulous de Mer“