Rachel and Paul Chandler to set sail again


Rachel and Paul Chandler, the couple who were taken hostage by Somali pirates and kept captive for more than a year, are to set sail again.

The couple want to complete the round-the-world trip that they had embarked upon before being seized at gunpoint on their yacht by pirates in the Indian Ocean.

Their determination to go to sea again, however, has raised a few eyebrows among some of the friends and family who raised a reported £500,000 to buy the couple’s freedom with a ransom payment.

“Some friends think we’re mad and our family are apprehensive,” Mrs Chandler, 58, conceded, and promised that their route this time will keep them away from pirate-infested waters.

She said, however, that she and her husband are desperate to get back to sea and that to give up sailing after their experiences would leave them “defeated people”.

“Sailing is our life. We feel guilty that people will worry, but they understand that if we weren’t able to sail we’d be defeated people,” she told Good Housekeeping magazine.

“What happened to us was extraordinary and the chances of it happening again are very, very small. More than anything we just want to be able to get on with living. We don’t want to be defined as former hostages for the rest of our lives.”

The couple were taken hostage in October 2009 off the Somali coast shortly after visiting the Seyshells and were only freed 388 days later. They were kept separate for much of their captivity, often kept malnourished and were badly beaten once. 

After their release the couple were strongly critical of the Foreign Office’s efforts to get them freed and to help their family. Mr Chandler said of the Foreign Office last year: “They like to propagate the myth that they're beavering away behind the scenes for every person in distress overseas. And they are not."

Mr and Mrs Chandler intend to sail round the world on the same boat, the Lynn Rival, that they were in when they were taken hostage. The boat had been ransacked by pirates but was recovered by the Royal Navy which had seen but was unable to stop the couple being seized by pirates.

Mrs Chandler described being reunited with the yacht as “a tonic” and she said she can’t wait to set out to sea again with her husband: “Paul and I will be heading back to the place where we belong - the sea. For us, nothing beats the freedom of sailing. And this trip will be all the more significant because it will mean we’ve recovered from the ordeal that left us broken.”

Having had the Lynn Rival returned to them the couple have fitted it out in preparation for their new round-the-world journey this summer. Instead of travelling through the Mediterranean to the Suez Canal, Red Sea and out into the Indian Ocean they intend to sail to Morocco and the Canaries before crossing the Atlantic and travelling along the South American coast before rounding Cape Horn to take them into the Pacific.