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86Network She I Autumn/Winter 2012It is easy to have a dream, but much harder to make it come true. Our lives were slipping by but we were determined to have our great adventure before old age caught up with us. It was a huge decision but it had been made. I gave up my job as a physiotherapist, husband Dave wound down his thriving building business and the house was sold. Mon Tour, our 35 foot yacht, was now to be our home. From her cosy berth in Y Felinheli on the Menai Strait she would take us to New Zealand.We knew that sailing with the seasons and trade winds it would take us at least a year. And what a year! Flat calms, high seas, stunning islands, kaleidoscopes of wildlife and coral reefs. Friendly smiling islanders, bandits in South America. Heat, humidity and mosquitoes, officialdom with its paper work and uniforms. The adventures flowed.The old life had been so busy. There had been so much to prepare, along with the last minute hubbub and tiredness. Then suddenly it was just the two of us, sailing slowly down the Irish sea, watching the mountains of Snowdonia slowly fading into the mist. It was a strange feeling, no house, no car, no job, no friends, no family. It was just the sea and our tiny boat.We buckled down as dusk arrived, to cope with at least a week at sea, heading south across Biscay towards the Canary Islands. Dolphins cheered us by visiting regularly, playing, diving and leading the boat. These skilful, swift, squeaking, intelligent creatures were to become our friends throughout all oceans. in the pre-dawn chill, and our last contact with land had gone.The wind was from the stern, from Africa, blowing us steadily west. The swell was an imposing four metres, but regular, with occasional cross swells which flooded the decks and cockpit. It was worrying but exhilarating surfing the green 'growlers' swooping from behind. The vastness of the ocean only served to emphasize the loneliness of this tiny floating capsule, driven slowly forward in an empty sea by the power of the wind.It was so exciting to make our first landfall in Barbados and to know our navigation had worked! It gives a real thrill, because you're never really sure till you arrive! We spent about a month on the island sight seeing and snorkelling over fantastic reefs teeming with colourful fish. It was not all plain sailing. One evening we decided to visit the village pub to catch up with the locals.We launched the dinghy and were rowing ashore when there was a loud crash of surf behind us. I saw the horror on Dave's face and the next thing the dinghy reared up vertically and we capsized and were dumped on the beach by the power of the surge much to the delight of the onlookers on the beach as we arrived sodden and bedraggled.Adventure AHOYJack it all in and sail around the world is the dream that Hazel Sneath and her husband made a reality when they sailed from North Wales to Oz. Hazel has written a book charting their journey which she extracts belowPutting out to sea is always an act of faith - in ourselves, the weather, and GodIf I thought of the journey in stages, it was easier to get my head round it. First stage south to the Canary Islands to pick up the trade wind that would take us across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. Then through the Panama canal and into the vast Pacific Ocean to island hop our way to Australia and New Zealand.We set off from the Canaries in December and suddenly, there we were, out on the big waves with 2,500 miles of ocean ahead of us. The last loom of the lighthouse receded

The wildlife had an Alice in Wonderland quality about it. Birds with blue feet, blue beaks, tiny red or yellow birds, giant tortoises, iguanas, sea lions and turtles, albatross and owls, sally lightfoot crabs, frigate birds mating, with huge red balloons stretching from beak to foot, penguins, and all manner of fish. speckled with tiny islands, many of which I'd never even heard of. It looked to be a vast, empty ocean, and so it is, in a way.On our first night out of Panama the dolphins arrived at midnight. They were not playful, but purposeful and swift and were larger than our previous visitors. With resonant squeaking they created long streaks of phosphorescence, like fire in the sea. They stayed a long time. It was a dramatic setting, with forked lightning and distant thunder continuing throughout the night. The large tankers travelling towards Panama were etched eerily by the lightning , as though they were on a stage set. In front of us were a mass of black clouds and it felt as though the boat was sailing through a corridor of fire led by a phosphorescent troop of dolphins! It was an eerie entrance into the Pacific.Putting out to sea is always an act of faith - in ourselves, the weather, and God. Sunny days could turn vile, fair winds could turn round and shriek at us. Now we faced a black night, strong winds and thunder, the boat heeling in torrential rain. It took us 12 days of challenging sailing to reach the Galapagos Islands, a unique archipelago.We decided to return back and realised Dave's glasses were missing. He can't see anything without them so we enlisted a quick search party to find them. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. We were about to give up but someone trod on them and they were intact.We thanked the helpers, picked up the dinghy but I forgot I had tied it to a tree and we fell over much to the amusement of the onlookers.But it didn't end there as Dave waded into the sea to push the dinghy out, he heaved himself up and his underpants shot down to his ankles. We rowed away with the rousing cheer from the onlookers ringing in our ears. From the Caribbean we headed for Venezuela and then to Panama to transit the canal, altogether a novel experience. And then we entered the Pacific. Now that was a totally new 'ball-game'! When I'd looked at the world chart and studied the Pacific, it seemed to be a huge mass of ocean, From here we set sail for another month to make landfall in the Marquises Islands. Then onward again for two more weeks to Tahiti and Bora -Bora. We then pushed onward Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and finally, after a year, to arrive in Brisbane, Australia, where we spent 12 months working to fill the coffers before crossing the Tasman Sea to New Zealand. So many places, so many adventures. Each get their deserved chapter in my book. We felt very different from those people who a year ago had set sail into the unknown. For a copy of her book book "The Rhumb Run" please contact Hazel by email on montour@hotmail.comFriendly police on FijiEntrance to Whangaparaoa Fjord, New ZealandA giant tortoise on the Galapados IslandsHazel on board Mon Tour in Y Felinheliwww.networkshe.com87