British Columbia

Victoria couple returns from 5-year sailing journey around the world

Bill and Cathy Norrie have just arrived home in Victoria after first setting off five years ago, pursuing Bill's dream to sail around the world.

Two-person crew of the SV Terrwyn arrived in home port safe and sound, but with some stories of close calls

Cathy and Bill Norrie have just returned home to Victoria after a five-year sailing trip around the world. (Cathy and Bill Norrie)

"She's a beauty — what can I say?"

Bill Norrie speaks with clear pride about the SV Terrwyn, the sailboat that took him and his wife Cathy around the world.

The couple have just arrived home in Victoria after first setting sail five years ago, and Bill says the Terrwyn is in better shape than when they left.

"We've been dolling her up as we go," Bill said of the 25-year-old, 11.3-metre-long fibreglass double-ender. "Sailors have a lot of time on their hands."

With no refrigeration, water maker or electronic navigation, the Terrwynn is a comparatively spartan vessel.

"She's a very sort of traditional sailboat," Bill said. "She was a bit of a racer in her era."

The SV Terrwyn was Bill and Cathy's home for five years, and Bill says it's in better shape than when they left. (Cathy and Bill Norrie)

Sailing around the world was a dream Bill had been holding onto for 30 years — but Cathy had never sailed offshore until the couple first left port in Victoria.

The initial going was a bit rough, but Cathy soon found herself taking to the nautical life with gusto.

"By the the time we reached French Polynesia, that was it," she said. "It was my dream too."

The pair chronicled their adventure on their blog called Voyage of the SV Terrwyn.

Cape Town's Table Mountain, as seen from the SV Terrwyn. (Cathy and Bill Norrie)

Between a near miss with an African tanker and being capsized by a whale, the voyage wasn't without its share of close calls.

Cathy told the story of a particularly brutal stretch of weather off the east coast of Africa, also known as the Wild Coast. Seas swelled in a storm that exceeded all forecasts, and Bill found himself manning the tiller for almost 18 hours.

"I was below deck thinking, are we really going to get through this?" Cathy said. "This was the first time it really hit me that we were so vulnerable."

But that's exactly what Bill loves about sailing.

"Those were the best [kind of] days," he said enthusiastically.

Cathy and Bill are pictured here on top of a lava dome on the islet of Bartolome, just off of Santiago Island. (Cathy and Bill Norrie)

Five years may sound like a long time to spend on a boat, but Bill and Cathy are already thinking about their next trip.

"There's so many other places," Cathy said. "We went through the Panama Canal, but we didn't go around Cape Horn. And so that might be the next one, you know?"

Bill and Cathy made sure to make a pitstop in the Galapagos Islands to check out the famed wildlife. (Cathy and Bill Norrie)

With files from Stephanie Mercier.