The British couple held hostage by Somali pirates for more than a year are planning to continue their sailing adventures. Rachel and Paul Chandler said they had the support of family and friends who raised half a million pounds of ransom money for them.
Lynn Rival sets off for her ill-fated voyage from the Seychelles
They will set sail on their original yacht Lynn Rival in the next few weeks heading to Morocco, the Canaries and South America – but steering clear of pirate waters.
Paul and Rachel Chandler on their newly renovated Lynn Rival
The Chandlers offered to repay the ransom money, but were told there was no need.
Rachel said: 'They flatly refused. To us they’re the unsung heroes. Their lives were turned upside down too, but all the focus has been on us.'
They were kidnapped in October 2009 and held separately for more than a year. Mr Chandler said those around them had been 'wonderful'.
'They want us to get our lives back, and life for us at the moment is travelling and sailing,' he told BBC Radio Five Live. '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.'
Rachel said: 'Some friends think we’re mad and our family are apprehensive, but sailing is our life.' However, she also said, '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.'
'More than anything we just want to be able to get on with living. We don’t want to be defined as former hostages for the rest of our lives.'
'It’s still our dream to spend our retirement sailing and we won’t let that dream be taken away.'
The couple spent 388 days in captivity after armed raiders boarded their 38ft yacht, Lynn Rival, 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 the ransom was paid.
Two South African cruising sailors, Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz, have not been so lucky. They have now been in the hands of Somali pirates since October 2010, and have been confirmed still alive last month.
Pelizzari Bruno and Deborah Calitz HELD CAPTIVE IN SOMALIA SINCE OCT2010
The South African government has a policy of not paying ransom demands, and the families of the two sailors have been so far unable to raise the ransom themselves.