The adventure is out there – we’ve chosen to take it in stages
Kirsten and I (Per) has, from the time we were in our late 20s, thought that we would one day sell the house, take the kids out of school, quit our jobs and face the sea in a sailboat to explore world.
We read about those, who did it. Children’s books. Adult books. Everything. Certainly, we would like to experience that sort of life.
But we never did it. Something always came in between. An exciting project, a new job, child rearing, career.
When we – suddenly, it seems – was in our mid-50s, we one day found ourselves at a restaurant in Cyprus, talking about life, dreams and the importance of managing our own lives instead of just flowing with the opportunities, that others define for us. We promised each other, that we would not end up as frustrated 70-year-olds, who no longer had the strength to hoist a sail and was annoyed that we did not at least try to realize the dream – the dream of sailing around the world, or at least part of the world.
On the Cypriot restaurant we wrote down on a napkin an agreement that we would stop working, at the latest when Per aged 62 and Kirsten 60.
The agreement did not last.
And then again: When Per turned 60 in the summer of 2012, we terminated our berth on Thurø in Denmark and headed for the Kiel Canal and the German Bight. We made an earlier start. We had at that time acknowledged, that the agreement to stop working as 60 and 62-year-old would not hold.
We redefined the project and a set out for at quicker start of the circumnavigation. We took off, although we could see that the next four years, we would not be able to sail more than a maximum of four weeks per year. “Around the world in stages“, we called the project.
Since 2012, we sailed four weeks every summer, and each year we have come further and further out into the world. When our summer vacation ran out, we found every year a port, that could store our boat, until we returned 11 months later.
We “eat” the world in small chunks. What matters is that we do it.
After four years Ronja reached Marseilles. And now we began shifting gears. Per at the age of 64, Kirsten at the age of 62. We are both in the process of closing our job, and the plan is that now we are going to sail more.
We call our project Ronjaroundtheworld. Honestly: It’s just a working title. For us it has never been important to get around the world in a full circle. We do not have to prove anything. We want the experience, to explore and enjoy the challenge. We have embarked on an adventure, which we will pursue as long as the courage and equipment can hold.
Fantastic? You bet. There is something indescribably marvelous in waking up in the morning and think, that again today I am going to experience people and places, that I have never experienced before.
The permanent crew consists of two people: Kirsten and Per. Regularly this crew is extended with family or friends.
Per Westergaard is skipper. He was until recently the chief editor and director of a number of Danish media, journalist by training and he himself believes that he looks best at the helm as the one that keeps overview and decide what needs to be done. When it comes to actual physical work he seems to be a bit reluctant.
Compared to our blog / website it is Per who write reports and take a good part of the pictures.
Skippers wife, Kirsten Folkersen, is the one, who manage the majority of the physical effort. It is she who go on deck and hoist sails. It is she who lowers and raises the anchor or prepare the boat with fenders and ropes when mooring in a port. Kirsten was until recently headmaster at a primary school in Odense, she is a qualified teacher.
Compared to the website it is Kirsten who upload reports, place pictures and get it to work graphically. Also she takes pictures.
None of us grew up with sailing. We bought when we were in the early 20’s, a small, used Wayfarer sailling-boat, got a place in Roskilde harbour, borrowed at the library a book about sailing, and then we went out doing all the mistakes, that can be committed. We capsized, we were grounded, we even one day had to leave the boat in the backyard of a coastal villa, then we could not quite find out, how we should act in relation to the wind.
We were definitely not good. But we were bitten.
Later we joined a group of people, that on a cooperative basis sailed and maintained a ketch from 1913. Still later we owned for years, along with a friend, a Swedish-built 30-foot Albin Ballad. And then came Ronja. Ronja has been with us for more than 12 years.
Ve write these stories on the fly, while sailing. I the background we have a son, Lasse Westergaard Folkersen, and a daughter, Emilie Westergaard Folkersen, who in their respective areas of competences helps us with the blog.
…and the boat
May we present: Ronja, a 36 foot yacht type Malö-36 built in 1998.
She was built in Sweden on the island of Orust, where there is a longstanding tradition for boat building, as also Halberg Rassy-, Vindö- and Najad yachts are being built on this island.
Ronja is solid Swedish crafts. With beautiful lines. We think.
Expressed in meters, she has a length of 11.35, a width of 3.48 and a draft of 1.79. The engine is a Yanmar diesel 47 hp