Week-long sailing trip to Spain turns into around-the-world-in-16-years adventure for Welsh couple

Jane and Clive Green sold their Pembrokeshire home to help fund their epic journey

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The Independent Online

A couple from Wales spent a week sailing their yacht to Spain then decided to keep going and ended up making a 16-year, 58,000-mile journey around the world.

Jane and Clive Green, lifelong sailors now in their 60s, visited some 56 countries, travelled in waters off the coast of Somalia – known for its pirates – met a Sei whale bigger than their 35ft yacht, Mrs Green, swam with seals off the Galapagos islands and sting rays off Tahiti, and watched orang-utans swing through the trees in Borneo.

“We have been very lucky so see our planet in such an amazing way - we didn't ever plan to sail around the world it just happened,” Mrs Green told The Daily Telegraph. “We would sail to a place and then - through word-of-mouth from other sailors - hear about somewhere else to go on to.”

They lived on a budget of £130 a week and at times had to barter for food. One of Mrs Green’s Marks and Spencer bras was traded on an island near Fiji with a woman who spoke no English.

“One of the women suddenly lifted up her jumper to expose her bare breasts and I realised she needed a bra,” Mrs Green said. “I gave her a spare one of mine and we left with enough fruit and veg to last us a month.“

The couple set sail after taking early retirement – Mr Green worked for a utility company, Mrs Green as a hospital microbiology technician – and rented out, then later sold their Pembrokeshire home. They also used the proceeds from the sale to buy two smaller homes to rent and help fund their epic journey.

It took them to Ireland, then Spain and then across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. After island-hopping for a while, they sailed up America’s east coast to Canada, then headed back south to the Panama Canal.

They then sailed across the South Pacific to Australia and New Zealand, where they stayed for a combined three and a half years, before heading to Indonesia and India and heading west to the Suez Canal. They spent the last two years in the Mediterranean.

Apart from a few of mishaps – Mr Green got a tooth abscess and accidentally sliced off the top of his finger, while they also had to desalinate sea water for 23 days after running out of fresh – they were otherwise none the worse for wear.

They had a scare when they realised they were being followed by a boat off Somalia.

They feared it might be a pirate vessel, but it turned out to be an Eritrean fishing boat with a man who had a bad cut on his leg.

Mr Green said: “It wasn't very brave of me but I watched as Jane hopped onto their boat to clean and dress the wound before we waved them on their way.”

Mrs Green added: “We didn’t come across anything that we could not cope with. We are both very resourceful.

“We had such a fabulous time. People say to us ‘you should write a book’ but the thing is, disasters sell books and we haven’t had any disasters – we have had good weather, we have met wonderful people everywhere we have been – we can’t fault it.”