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Transatlantic and back for local couple

ON THE WAVES: Leonard and Mary are prepared for their voyage ON THE WAVES: Leonard and Mary are prepared for their voyage
By Conor McParland

A LOCAL couple are preparing to embark on a trans-Atlantic voyage of a life-time.
Leonard Nugent (59) from North Belfast and Mary McBride (57) from Beechmount, first met up in Malta eight years ago.
Over the past 12 months they have been putting their plan in place including preparing their boat for the massive trip – a 42ft catamaran called The Starry Plough.
Their route will see them depart Malta across the Mediterranean Sea to Gibraltar and then on across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean and the east coast of the USA, sailing on the trade winds.
They will make their way up through the Caribbean islands to Cuba onto Bermuda and then catch the westerly winds to take them back across the Atlantic, via the Azores and back into the Mediterranean again, calling at Algeria and Tunisia before returning to Malta around September 2020. The round trip is approximately 11,000 nautical miles.
Leonard explained: “We have put a lot of time and effort into getting the boat ready.
“We have installed a Reverse Osmosis on board so that we can make our own water, the provisioning has been a major task, but we will make our own bread and will almost be self-sufficient.”
Both Leonard and Mary also undertook many training courses for the trip, including Survival at Sea, First Aid and Marine Metrology, amongst others. Their voyage begins this week.
Last year they walked 2,600km with just a rucksack from Lisbon in Portugal up the Atlantic coast to Santiago in Spain, then walked across the length of northern Spain across the Pyrenees mountains and down into France. They then walked up along the French Bay of Biscay to Bordeaux.
The arduous hike took almost three months walking an average of 30km a day.
Mary added: “After this trip I’m not sure what’s next. We’ll be fit for anything!”
Mary has set up an on-line site so that family and friends in Belfast can follow the passage through Facebook, there is also a tracking site Starry Plough or at

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