Smiling broadly as they wave goodbye, Paul and Rachel Chandler set sail hoping to finish their round-the-world trip. The yachting couple, who were kidnapped by Somali pirates and held hostage separately for more than a year in 2009, departed on the same yacht in which they were captured.
They have spent the last two years restoring the 38′ Lynn Rival that was found drifting in the Indian Ocean and had to be towed to the UK by a Royal Navy ship.
There were no large crowds to see them off as they quietly sailed out of the port and waved to passers-by. Both appeared in high spirits as they left Noss Marina in Dartmouth, Devon, before heading to a Cornish port and then likely Spain. It is believed their route will not include the waters around the Seychelles or near the coast of Somalia where they were captured last time.
The Chandlers have told of their support for their latest attempt from friends and family who raised more than half a million pounds in ransom money. ‘They want us to get our lives back, and life for us at the moment is traveling and sailing’, said Mr Chandler.
‘I think they are relaxed about it, I don’t think they would be very positive if we were to be captured again, but we had bad luck, we were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the chances of it happening again are incredibly small.’
Mrs Chandler commented, “From day one our close family and friends were very keen that we should get back to normal. They were very worried that would be permanently scarred by what had happened to us, and I think it was reassuring to them that, having found out that we had our boat back, that the Navy had brought our boat back for us, for them to know that we did actually want to restore it, and get back to cruising to get our lives back again, was reassuring to them.”
The couple spent 388 days in captivity after armed raiders boarded their yacht as they sailed from the Seychelles to Tanzania in notoriously dangerous waters.
The retired pair, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, were released in November 2010 after a ransom of £625,000 was paid.
Describing their story later to the Daily Mail, they recalled their terror as the gun-toting pirates stormed their yacht, their anger that a nearby Royal Navy ship failed to intervene and their brutal treatment at the hands of their captors.
It revealed how their family paid £280,000, only for the pirates to refuse to let them go, and how they were told they were going to be killed days before they were finally freed.
Last year, Mr Chandler, 60, posted pictures online repairing the decking on the vessel and fitting new teak strips – the wooden cladding which appears on top.
Retired civil engineer Mr Chandler and his wife, 57, moved into his father Alfred’s house in Dartmouth to carry out the work after he died while they were in captivity aged 99. The couple were reunited with the Lynn Rival at a boat yard at Buckler’s Hard, near Lymington, Hampshire, a few months after they were released.
In a book recounting their ordeal, Mrs Chandler wrote, “This is where the insurers have brought her for restoration. Paul checks her out with his engineer’s eye. As I go down the steps and glance around, there’s a tiny, chilling sense they haven’t quite gone: Scrabble tiles on the floor, grease and rice spilled all over the galley. I know I’m not fit enough yet but I can’t wait to start clearing up! It will take a lot of work to exorcise the ghosts, but I’m happy that she will be ours again.”
Source: By Ryan Kisiel