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Dutch family crosses Atlantic in sailboat, makes stop at Locust Point Yacht Club

Bronx Times

The members of the Rijkelijkhuizen family from De Lier, Netherlands have visited many places on their trans-Atlantic sailing journey, and many more still to visit. But they will always remember their week in the Bronx.

The Rijkelijkhuizens began their journey from the Netherlands in June, and plan to sail back to their hometown in August, 2012. But from Friday, December 9 through Friday, December 16, its base of operations was the Locust Point Yacht Club.

The family, which includes a mother, a father and two daughters aged 9 and 10, made a week-long stopover in the Bronx while sailing down the east coast of North America.

“For us from Holland, we always heard about the American people, especially in New York, that they’re only for the money, for themselves,” 39-year-old father Robbert said. “But for us they’ve been great. They’ve been offering us so much help here. It’s something we didn’t expect.”

Robbert found Locust Point Yacht Club on an electronic map, as the family was looking for a place to dock its sailboat.

“They were really surprised when we sailed up to the docks,” Robbert said. “They said ‘how did you find us?’ I told them ‘you’re on the map!’”

The Rijkelijkhuizens were sailing south from Bridgeport, CT. After leaving Locust Point, they set a course for Delaware.

But for the seven days in between, they used Locust Point as their base of operations for a week of touring New York City. The family got the full city Christmas season experience, taking the express bus into midtown for days of shopping and sightseeing.

“This has been a good part (of the trip),” Robbert’s wife Lydia said. “It’s lovely, and everyone (at Locust Point) has been really good to us.”

After leaving De Liers, the Rijkelijkhuizens took their sailboat to Iceland, and then sailed across the Atlantic, with stops in Greenland, before landing in northern Canada in September. Since then they have been making their way down the coast, planning to reach the Caribbean by spring. Over the summer, the family will spend over three weeks sailing across the Atlantic, to the Azores, before heading home to Europe. They have been living in a cabin about 30 feet long and 10 feet wide.

Robbert, an IT project manager, and Lydia, a web site designer, decided to take the extended time off from their jobs. Their daughters Chrislya and Nikita are being schooled aboard the boat.

The vessel is mainly propelled by the wind, although it does have a 28-horsepower outboard motor.

Robbert, who navigates the boat, said the cross-ocean journey had been a lifelong dream. As the couple neared their 40s, they saw their window of opportunity closing.

“We did it to get out of the daily routine,” he said. “And we wanted to do it while we’re young.”

The Rijkelijkhuizens post a log of their journey at www.rijkelijkhuizen.net.

Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at wweisbrod@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394.

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