Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Taking the family round-the-world

23rd March 2009

Famous French sailor, Laurent Bourgnon, has undertaken a fascinating round-the-world trip with his family on board his custom made expedition motor yacht, the 70 Sunreef Power JAMBO. It is a trip many would dream to make. The family crossed the strait of Magellan in Patagonia couple of weeks ago. Jambo is in Robinson Crusoe island on the Pacific ocean and will shorty depart for Easter Island and French Polynesia.

Undergoing a round-the-world trip in family started right after the Cannes Boat Show in September 2008, Laurent Bourgnon has recently crossed the strait of Magellan in Patagonia, Southern Chile and successfully arrived to Robinson Crusoe Island on the Pacific ocean.

Five months have passed since the entire family stepped aboard 70 Sunreef Power JAMBO in Cannes and began this incredible adventure. The big project of a family trip around the world planned and prepared during more than three years is now in the very act of happening.

JAMBO, a custom made power yacht built especially for this trip, is an exceptional boat in many respects. Luxurious and functional, JAMBO is equipped with ecological engines  with minimal fuel consumption equaling 2 liters per nautical mile. The boat needed only 9000 L of fuel to cover the distance from Cannes, France to Punta Arenas in Patagonia. Provided with two fuel tanks of 20 000 L (!), this yacht can complete long distance crossings all over the globe. Keeping cruising speed at 8 - 10 knots, JAMBO has a range of 20 000 nautical miles, which certainly is a phenomenon on a large scale in the yachting world. Once again, Laurent Bourgnon, is determined to show the entire world that a power boat can be environment friendly and as much (in)expensive as a sailing yacht.

Using a maximum optimal performance-orientated hulls shape, Sunreef power catamaran takes maximum advantage of the natural wave force to increase its speed (strong engines support).

Once departed from Cannes, the Bourgnon family stayed in the Southern France to complete all final preparations and provisions for their long trip scheduled for couple of coming years. Some objectives were set up for this journey. First of all, discovering the world in family from the sea perspective and developing an eco friendly attitude towards surrounding environment.  Secondly, teaching the art of navigation to all his family who until now haven’t had a chance to do a lot of sailing, Laurent being the only professional on board. Finally comes the third reason for this trip: showing the children how important it is to speak foreign languages and make them learn English and Spanish via direct contact to the target languages. After many years of solo ocean crossings and regattas, Laurent Bourgnon finally takes time for his beloved family and starts his dream adventure...

A few months after launching the 70 Sunreef Power in Gdansk Shipyard, Poland, the trip could begin. On 8th November 2008, Laurent left France and departed towards Cape Verde Islands.


Before reaching Cape Verde Islands, the family stopped at Porto de la Duchesse in Spain, a small and picturesque port where they stayed overnight. First challenge for the children, to speak Spanish, or rather trying... Along with English, learning Spanish is the main educational objective that Laurent and Caroline set for their children.

Then the family arrived in Gibraltar before reaching Essaouira in Morocco where they arrived on Sunday, 16th November during the magical time of an African sunrise.

„ Charming little fishing port or rather big fishing port with more than fifty boats coming in and out every day. The children were all confused whether they were supposed to speak French, English or Spanish” says Caroline Bourgnon, quite amused.

Accompanied by a couple of friends till this moment, they stayed in the final configuration for the rest of the trip.

Laurent and his family left Essouira on 22nd November and cruised to the Canary Islands with a short stop at Puerto de Mogane where they finally found an Internet Cafe and sent first photos to their friends awaiting all news impatiently. They created a special blog to be updated once in a while with their news and photos.

After spending the entire day at the place, they left for Cape Verde Islands that they reached 4 days later, on 27th November 2008.

This short crossing happened to be quite rough because of harsh weather conditions and   quite choppy sea. Laurent's wife and children were not used to living on board on a daily basis but finally they did pretty well, no one complained. It wasn't easy for the children to follow their classes either. Laurent and Caroline insist on children attending school despite travelling, so there is daily learning time to be strictly respected, all homework is sent via e-mail to the teachers...

Yet, heavy weather conditions were easily forgotten when the entire family of Bottlenose dolphins suddenly appeared breaching in the bow wave of Jumbo. They followed our explorers during almost the whole journey to Cape Verde. It was an amazing experience for Laurent's kids!

Another simple pleasure of living on a boat: first sea bream of 1 meter length was caught and became the main ingredient for the couple of coming meals. Sea activities weren't neglected by our travellers. The entire family was slowly getting used to their new life and become aware of food treasures hidden in the vast ocean.


The call at Cape Verde was an unforgettable experience thanks to new fascinating encounters with local people, always welcoming and open towards travellers. They would have stayed longer in this isolated archipelago of ten volcanic islands if they weren't in a hurry to cross the strait of Magellan in favourable season.

On 5th December 2008 they were already half way between the islands and Brazil. The weather was getting better and days became much warmer. Everything was going smoothly, confirms Laurent. „ The sea is beautiful, no seasick on board, the crew is getting used to maritime life easily.”

On 7th December, Laurent informs „ We are approaching Doldrums, there is no wind, the atmosphere is heavy and extremely hot, the sea is magnificent, we have just witnessed a splendid sunset.”

They took direction of  Fernando de Noronha island which they were supposed to reach in 3-4 days depending on weather conditions.  

They crossed the equator on 8th December, in the evening. From this very moment, Jambo crew was getting ready to face strong winds from the East and the South-East (beam reaching wind) until reaching Brazil.

Arriving on 10th December to this so called pearl of Southern Atlantic, Fernando de Noronha island, central island of the archipelago composed of 21 islands, islets and rocks of volcanic origin around 354 km offshore from the Brazilian coast, they treated themselves to the three-day stay at the place surrounded by amazing landscapes with deep clear water surrounding the island, fabulous conditions for scuba diving. The island has a status of a national maritime park and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 for two main reasons:  The diversity of the different species of sea animals and the worldwide unique accumulation of dolphins. Moreover, the island is a good example of sustainable growing with its fauna and flora highly protected, recycling and controlled swimming areas.

They left the island on 12th December, direction to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil, where they arrived after three days of cruising.

„ In the morning before our departure, all sea animals seemed to approach the boat especially to say goodbye to us. Justine ( Laurent's older daughter) was amazed when suddenly the whole group of dolphins began playing and dancing around Jambo”, says Jules, Justine's brother.

The underwater world hides endless marvels and the family takes advantage of being so close to it every day. „ Yesterday we were diving among hundreds of turtles. Loupette (Laurent's youngest daughter) who is now doing fine with a mask and tuba, just couldn't believe when 1-meter wide stingray came to say a shy hello to her. As for Jules and Basile, they have seen a shark for the first time yesterday”.

Somewhere on the way they have met an old friend, Patrick Tabarly, who is undergoing a round-the-world trip as well, but by stages.

As always, they would have loved to stay much longer at the place but in order to respect the itinerary and to cross the strait of Magellan in the right time (the sooner the better), they had to move forward.

Salvador the Bahia was the first port on the South American continent. They spent three days in this superb ancient city, first colonial capital of Brazil, famous for its street carnivals and diversified cuisine, cut from the rest of the world by a chain of mountains.

On 19th December they departed for Rio de Janeiro where they spent Christmas and rested a couple of days before heading down south. They moored in a heavenly hidden bay south of Rio. Apart from visiting this fascinating city, the world capital of samba, they could enjoy a company of newly met family with 4 children making a similar trip to theirs. „ It was great to see the kids playing so spontaneously” says Caroline.

After Rio they called in Paraty, a beautiful colonial town, where they spent a few days. After that, on 29th December they stopped in Santa Catharina where they decided to spent New Year. They really enjoyed this colorful place, a mix between the Seychelles with the huge granite rocks, the Marquesas Islands with luxuriant vegetation and the bay of Morbihan with its islets and channels.


Santa Catharina was a perfect spot to practice all water sports they are found of such as windsurfing, diving, snorkeling, canoeing etc. Yet, even though they were having fantastic time and discovering so much, they remained aware of the necessity to go forward and pass on the other side of the American continent.

They welcomed new year 2009 in Santa Catharina from where they had a couple of days cruising before reaching Patagonia.

„ We have spent this moment all together with delicious foie gras and a good bottle of Bordeaux...but unfortunately it was raining all day!” - recounts Laurent.

The family left towards Uruguay, for instance Punta del Este, where they arrived on 8th January 2009.

Punta del Este is an upscale and exclusive summer resort with luxury yachts and glamorous inhabitants. Its beaches are famous all over America and attract many tourists  mainly Argentineans, Brazilians and Europeans. Punta del Este has 122 hotels, 80 restaurants, a modern international airport and a marina with space capacity for 500 boats. Although the town has a year-round population of around 10.000 the summer tourist boom often boosts the population fifty times to about 400 000 people between December and February. That is why the city is nicknamed the Saint-Tropez of South America.

There are two types of coast: Brava and Mansa. Brava is great for surfing with strong winds coming from the ocean and Mansa is more frequented by families as her waters are calm and peaceful.

Next call in Buenos Aires, world capital of the sensual tango. Laurent decided to wait here until 18th January for the coming of his friends participating in the rally Paris Dakar with this year's edition organized in Chile and Argentina. The family has stayed for the whole week in Buenos enjoying wonderful moments in the company of old friends and visiting the fascinating capital of Argentina.



After Buenos they stopped in Valdes peninsula, southern Argentina. It is an important nature reserve which was listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. The coastline is inhabited by marine mammals like sea lions, elephant seals, fur seals and whales coming here to give birth in the calm waters of the gulf. The peninsula has a very particular climate: it is protected from rain by the chain of Andes and enjoys ocean mild breeze. Laurent confirm this situation: „ Even though the temperature remains mild et it's a Summer here, the fact of seeing seals and other sea mammals reminds us that we are approaching low southern latitudes of Cap Horn, which we will not cross but approach quite close”.  

Seeping into Patagonia, the Bourgnon family calls in Punta Arenas et later in Puerto Natales in Chile. They navigated through sumptuous Patagonian channels abounding in massive blue icebergs and solitary villages inhabited by local indigenous population. The scenery was absolutely mind-blowing. The entire family was happy to be able to share this experience together. Extreme location involves extreme weather conditions for strong winds ahead of 50 – 60 knots came across Jambo at the entrance to the strait.  Tough welcome from the salvage Patagonia.

Before entering Patagonia Laurent informs: „ It's been a couple of days already that we are blocked by a series of depressions bringing strong North Western winds up to 60 knots of speed and lots of rain. It's quite cold during the day with the temperature between 5 et 8 degrees. At night the temperature falls to 0. So even though it's Summer here, we have to put the heating on! In France it would be our Winter!”

Jumbo was slowly going towards Puerto Mont on the Western coast of Chile, from where they were supposed to depart for the second big stage of their journey. Before that, they called in Puerto Eden, a tiny village with curious locals coming to greet them in the port. It wasn't often that they were visited in their remote location by foreign travellers.

The Bourgnon family was lucky to cross the strait in the good season. They reached Puerto Mont on 22nd February 2009. The first big stage of travelling was over. In Puerto Mont they took some time to make final preparations and provisions for further trip. On  5th March they departed towards Robinson Crusoe Island where he got five days later .  The next call is set for Easter Island.

Longer stop is planned for French Polynesia, a heaven on earth according to Laurent's souvenirs.

Jumbo proved to be an ideal yacht for far distance discovery voyage in both tropical and arctic climate. And who knows what comes next?

To be continued on soon... Team

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