A DIFFERENT KIND OF ROUND THE WORLD TRIP Sailing And The City!

Although the Caribbean and Polynesia are still indispensable destinations, it's not unreasonable after a few seasons of sailing around them to want to see something else. And what a joy this can be. To leave behind those (lovely) postcard scenes and get off the beaten tracks which are often just a little too busy. Getting to meet folks who aren't necessarily expecting you. Making the most of the hurricane seasons to get away from it all.

Sometimes, only a few miles or more from the "sunshine highways", from north to south or east to west, there are towns, or even whole countries, which are worth the trip and all the tacking and choppy seas before you get settled in... Here are a few initial ideas, obviously subjective, for places which are a little different, original, hidden, dreamlike, poetic...

Different kind of round the world trip

The photo in front of the Statue of Liberty: one of the essential souvenirs of a round the world trip. You've still got to sail as far as New York though!

Cities: The Great Forgotten Destinations.

Throughout a sabbatical year or retirement, whether it's an early one or not and whether it's an active or leisurely trip, there will be a part of us that yearns for white sand and coconut palms. However, statistics tell us that since 2006, the majority of the world's population lives in urban centers. The architecture, the cultural life and their natural gregariousness, are all things which fascinate as well as repulse us. There's a kind of luxuriousness about sailing alongside a coastal metropolis. There's both a reassuring distance, and a permanently available emergency exit. There's the possibility of being able to contemplate the most wonderful and mythical monuments from an unusual and therefore privileged position. There's a chance, in a detached way, to observe the frenetic, hectic and deafening rhythm of millions of human beings going about their business. And then in the evening, to take refuge in the cosy cocoon of the salon. What childish delight one can take from being able to go to concerts aboard the unlikely transport that is a semi-rigid dinghy. How great to be able to visit the most wonderful museums and most in vogue exhibitions with our salty deck shoes on our feet! My list isn't complete, and I look forward to hearing your suggestions, but here are a few ideas that come to mind. New York first of course. Just to look past your mast with the perspective of the city behind, and to sail under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Head for Ellis Island and perform the most stunning of all tacking maneuvers in front of the Statue of Liberty. Who's going to go in the dinghy so that we can preserve the moment with a photo? It's in the can! Then go and moor your boat at the foot of Manhattan's skyscrapers, just like the great trimarans before a record-breaking transat crossing! Far to the south towards the southern tip of the American continent, is Rio, where the beaches, music, Caïpirinha and its troubled beauty are known around the world. But did you know that its mythical bay is without doubt home to one of the most fabulous sailing clubs in the world. It will be a challenge to moor there in 2016 when the sprawling Brazilian city will play host to the Olympic Games. The sailing races will take place a kilometer away at Marina de Gloria, off the Flamengo Beach. However, the "Iate Club Do Rio De Janeiro" is unique amongst sailing clubs. It occupies a former aerodrome which is situated at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain, just a stone's throw from the golden sands of the Copacabana Beach. It's an amazing space, and it offers a chance to catch one's breath in a city for which the term "demographic pressures" was probably coined. The semi-oval hangars, vestiges of the zone's aerodrome past, today house rows and rows of perfectly, vertically-aligned center-board dinghies, as though they were on parade, ready for all the young pretenders who dream of emulating the local hero: Torben Grael. A cinema, swimming pools, a high end restaurant and shady terraces with immaculate white columns: the local jet set are falling over each other to get a chance to be among the chosen few who can enjoy this club. And when you've had enough of the noise, the crowds and the extremes, you only have to sail a few miles down the coast to reach the Ilha Grande Natural Park, where you can recharge your batteries and get your fill of the luxuriant natural surroundings.
From an urban and environmental standpoint, Sydney is in between these two cities. Not from a geographical standpoint of course, because it's pretty much on the edge of the world. At least an accessible edge of the world, without too many risks for the sailor. If Sydney is worth the trip simply because of the Australian love of multihulls and therefore the best possible chance to sell on your boat, it is also a magical destination. The world famous Sydney Harbour does not disappoint, with its 240kms of coastline! If New York has the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, then Sydney has the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. These are the two great iconic architectural realizations: one from the first half of the twentieth century, the other from the second. On top of all this, there's the Australian climate: sun and wind, sheltered waters. Ideal sailing conditions. Open regattas are common, sometimes in the evening or at the weekends. There's one local specialty too: negotiating around the ferries. Sydney can also boast the New Year’s Eve fireworks, the start of the Sydney-Hobart race, and especially the Australians themselves. In our humble opinion, there's no other big country where the whole population is so amenable. Which is in complete contrast to the country's pernickety and protectionist administration. The Aussies are open, welcoming, curious, and enjoy travelling. They are also easy going and pleasant.

Different kind of round the world trip

... and what an atmosphere on Copacabana Beach, Rio's mythical piece of coastline!

Old Europe is full of cities that can be discovered under sail. Here's a personal and inexhaustive list going from south to north. Marseille and the beautiful Vieux Port, whose entrance is now graced by the wonderful, perforated façade of the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MuCEM). Who hasn't dreamt of mooring on the small quay which separates Rudy Ricciotti's modern work from the St Jean fort? During the day you can climb up to the Bonne Mère (the Notre Dame de la Garde basilica) and admire the harbor, deep blue and white, buffeted and cleansed by the Mistral wind. You can have a drink at the Caravelle, with its unbeatable view of the port and the basilica. Then carry on up to the Noailles market, and fill your lungs with the scents and aromas of the Mediterranean. In the evening you can take the dinghy and have dinner at the Vallon des Auffes. Or if the heat and madness of Marseille get to you, you can wind down by heading for Frioul or Goudes, the first points on the way to the magnificent calanques. In Italy, Venice is the top choice. And not just for starcrossed lovers. Even if it's only the gondoliers who have access to the narrowest "streets" or who can pass under the bridges, there is surely no better or leisurely way to visit the city of the Doges. To have St Mark's square as a viewpoint from your balcony, and to see the world go by, then to moor a short distance from the Doges' palace is a real dream...but one which is possible out of season. Further north where in June the sun's light never fully disappears, we have dreamt of sailing between the two "Venices" of the Baltic, Stockholm and St. Petersburg. There are only 465 nautical miles between the beautiful Swedish city and the aristocratic Russian one. Just a few days are needed to connect the city of fourteen islands to the former capital of an empire. But will there be enough summer to take in all the cities of Ingmar Bergman and Peter the Great?

Different kind of round the world trip

Tacking with a serene Venice as a backdrop: the dream of all the world's lovers...

Senegal: From St Louis to Ziguinchor.

Come the winter, it's time to head south. Not just a city that's a bit out of the way, it's a whole country that awaits you. And it will amaze and enchant you. Gibraltar, Madeira, The Canaries, maybe even Cape Verde, and then straight on to the West Indies to avoid the cold that will envelop Europe! However, only 350 miles from Praia (Cape Verde) is a destination which will lead you to hope that the trade winds to take you west don't blow up just yet. "I enjoy countries where one needs the shade" wrote Stendhal. And I like Senegal, the gateway to West Africa, and a chance to get a foothold in this little known Dark Continent. Even if the country isn't immune to the insecurity which is inherent in modern societies, especially in large cities such as Dakar, Senegal is still, in general a haven of peace. It's one of the rare examples in sub-Saharan Africa where the opposition leader can become President of the Republic following free and democratic election. Nicknamed "The Teranga Country", it certainly lives up to its name. Teranga means "hospitality" in Wolof, the language spoken by 90% of the population, as well as the official language which is French. To the north is St. Louis, the "African Venice", classed as a UNESCO world heritage site, where the architecture seems to have stood still at some time. At the mouth of the Senegal River, navigating can be a bit hairy, negotiating currents and sandbanks. Just pretend that you are Henry de Monfried, taking in the magnificent land and seascapes of Patrick Chéreau's wonderful film "Les Caprices d'Un Fleuve" and you'll avoid all the pitfalls.
In the center, opposite the stifling city of Dakar, and in the bay of the same name, is of course the island of Gorée. "Somewhere that you should see at least once in your lifetime", exclaimed Thierry Metroz, the designer of the famous Citroen DS. It's a symbol of the tragedy that was slavery. To arrive there, sail around it, visit it and then to leave, free, in a boat, is an incredibly emotional experience. Further south, Sine Saloum and the Casamance River are more excuses to abandon our wristwatches and hang around a little longer. Sail up the river in the early morning, accompanied by the dolphins, stop in Karabane then sail further up to Ziguinchor, anchor amongst the mangroves, be woken up by the monkeys screaming and the birds singing... If this is the kind of destination that interests you, get in touch with the Voiles Sans Frontières association who will be delighted to give you some school materials for example, which you can take with you to distribute in situ. It's a great way to navigate "responsibly" and not just as tourists, which also allows you to create strong ties by passing on something which for most of us seems very mundane.

Different kind of round the world trip

If you're crafty, you can even anchor in Venice. That's as good as it gets!

So there you have it. At Multihulls World we like all those criss-crossing routes. It's in our DNA, and surely also all those multihull fans who are anticonformist by nature? We'd love to take you to Easter Island, Indonesia, The Philippines, South Africa and Madagascar, Argentina and Chile. To Iceland and Tierra del Fuego. You've dreamt about it on land, or have you had the chance to go there by boat? Why not share your experiences with us?

Different kind of round the world trip

If you're sailing around the world, Africa and Senegal in particular, are worth a lengthy stopover. You can even sail usefully, by helping out the Voiles Sans Frontières association... (www.voilessansfrontieres.org)

Different kind of round the world trip

Anyone who has ever weighed anchor in Rio Harbor will tell you that it's one of the most beautiful in the world...

Different kind of round the world trip

On two hulls in New York, or "How to make the most of the calm of the boat during the day, as well as the frenetic nightlife that only the great cities can offer."

Different kind of round the world trip

Anyone who has ever weighed anchor in Rio Harbor will tell you that it’s one of the most beautiful in the world…

Different kind of round the world trip

Sydney is a dream stopover destination, with its Opera House and the Aussie passion for sailing. And in particular multihulls!

Different kind of round the world trip

Marseille and its famous Vieux Port is a magical mooring for those who love the Mediterranean and its cosmopolitan culture! (©N. Claris - Lagoon)

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