From the Atlas Mountains to a Boiling Lake:
Family back home after epic 14-month journey
WHEN two Irish children set sail with their parents for a circuit of the north Atlantic last summer, little did they know they wouldn’t be the only kids home-schooling.
Nor was “pandemic” on the list of potential hazards as Lilian (12) and Ruairí (10) Quinlan-Owens, and their scientist parents Vera and Peter, headed south in heavy winds from Kinvara, Co Galway, all of 14 months ago.
Brighter sunshine, a westerly wind and a warm welcome greeted the family yesterday as they finally sailed their 13-metre yacht Danú home.
Navigating the rain forest on the Maroni river in French Guiana and collecting rock from the Caribbean island of Dominica’s famous Boiling Lake the were among highlights recounted by Lilian on deck.
Reaching the Sahara desert before sunrise after a seven-day trek across the Atlas mountains in Morocco, and swimming with sharks and stingrays were some of Ruairí’s best memories.
“I did miss my friends,” Lilian said.
When they had to quarantine after the full impact of Covid-19 hit, it was off the small island of
Barbuda north of Antigua, where islanders left fruit and vegetables for them on the beach.
They had undergone their third quarantine by the time they sailed in yesterday, after a 10-day trip from the Azores north to the Aran islands.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing as they encountered fierce winds on the journey.
“We rode out the conditions over 10 hours, and were hit by two growlers where a huge wall of water swept over Danú, knocking the rails right down under before she came back up,” said Vera. “My heart did flutter a bit. Thankfully, the kids slept through it all.”
Adventurers’ return: Peter and Vera Quinlan-Owens with their children Ruairí and Lilian after completing their adventure of a lifetime sailing to the Caribbean and back.