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Jenny and Nick at Puerto Williams, ChileNick and Jenny Coghlan were born in the UK but moved to Argentina in 1978 when Nick obtained a job at St. George's, a traditional British-style boarding school in Buenos Aires. In 1981, after three long summers spent exploring the far south of Chile and Argentina, they moved on to Canada and, based on Vancouver Island, took up sailing.

In 1985 they set off in their small production boat, an Albin Vega 27 called Tarka the Otter, on what was meant to be a short cruise to Mexico. It turned into a four-year circumnavigation of the world, via Mexico, the islands of the South Pacific, Australia, the Cape of Good Hope, the Panama Canal and Hawaii.

Shortly after returning to Canada, Nick joined the Canadian Foreign Service. He and Jenny travelled around the world on foreign assignments that included Mexico City, Bogota, Khartoum (where Nick was the first Canadian diplomat posted to that country) and Cape Town. Their experiences in Colombia and Sudan are recounted in Nick's two books: The Saddest Country and Far in the Waste Sudan, both published by McGill-Queens University Press (MQUP). They were able to keep up their sailing skills by racing venerable steel Khartoum One Design dinghies at the junction of the Blue and White Niles, where the Blue Nile Sailing Club has its HQ aboard Lord Kitchener's former gunboat, HMS Melik.

In South Africa Nick and Jenny, having sold the venerable Tarka the Otter to a new caring owner, bought another boat of the same length, a Vancouver 27 which they named Bosun Bird. Fulfilling a long-held dream to return to Patagonia, they sailed her across the Atlantic, to Brazil and Argentina, then ventured south into the Roaring Forties. They wintered over at a tiny Chilean naval base in the Beagle Channel, between the Strait of Magellan and Cape Horn, then worked north through the lonely Chilean channels to Puerto Montt. Here Bosun Bird and her crew resumed open water sailing and made for Robinson Crusoe Island, Easter Island and Tahiti.

The voyage was interrupted for two years when Nick accepted another diplomatic assignment, in conflictive Pakistan. When they returned to the boat in 2009, Nick and Jenny cruised through French Polynesia to the Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Japan and Alaska.

Bosun Bird's voyage to South America is recounted in Winter in Fireland, published in Canada in mid-2011.  For a recent interview with Jenny and Nick on the subject of safety at sea, see Ocean Navigator.

Contact Nick and Jenny at bosun_bird@yahoo.ca



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